Study Guide

There's been a Death, in the Opposite House Appearances

By Emily Dickinson

Appearances

Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.

Or is it? Poetry is notorious for saying one thing and meaning another, or for seeming to be direct, but hiding a metaphor under the bed. And how about a poem written by a woman but spoken as a man about what he saw and what he imagined happening in his neighbor's abode?

In "There's been a Death, in the Opposite House," it can be hard to differentiate between appearances and reality, between metaphor and truth. Good thing Shmoop's here to have your back.

Questions About Appearances

  1. How much do you trust this narrator to be reliableā€”to tell the actual truth?
  2. On the surface, this is a poem about watching a house after a death. What else, if anything, is going on under the surface?
  3. What is the true nature of this town's "intuition"?

Chew on This

Everything in this poem is just as it seems from the outside.

The entire emotional drama of this death happens off stage, so to speak.

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