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There's Been a Death in the Opposite House

AP Literature Poetry Project
by

Kendall Cowne

on 29 May 2013

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Transcript of There's Been a Death in the Opposite House

Emily Dickinson There's Been a Death in the Opposite House Scansion Literary Techniques Quizzie There's been a death in the opposite house
As lately as today.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway.

The neighbours rustle in and out,
The doctor drives away.
A window opens like a pod,
Abrupt, mechanically;

Somebody flings a mattress out, -
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy.

The minister goes stiffly in
As if the house were his,
And he owned all the mourners now,
And little boys besides;

And then the milliner, and the man
Of the appalling trade,
To take the measure of the house.
There'll be that dark parade

Of tassels and of coaches soon;
It's easy as a sign, -
The intuition of the news
In just a country town. Response to Questions Analysis of the Rhyme Scheme ABCB, ABDB, AEFG, HIAJ, KBAB, LMNA Analysis of the Title "There's Been a Death in the Opposite House"

- Opposite house meaning different and detached
- Not directly affected by the event
- Bystander/common observer Somebody flings a mattress out, -
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy. 1. What can we know about the speaker in the poem? 2. By what signs does the speaker recognize that a death has occurred? Explain them stanza by stanza. 3. Comment on the words "appalling" (18) and "dark" (20). 4. What is the speaker's attitude toward death? - Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830. Her father was a respected layer. - She was engaged to Rev. George Gould, a student at Amherst College, but her wealthy father broke it off because he was just a poor student. - She never married - The "Belle of Amherst - Dickinson used broken meter, seemingly random capitalization, and numerous dashes to convey complex thoughts and emotions - Lavinia, her sister discovered hundreds of unpublished poems after Dickinson died. Lavinia hired editors to chronologically arrange and publish the works. - The subjects of her poems ranged from the inevitability of death (this poem) to the simple joys of the natural world. - The speaker is an outside party watching and speaking from a different perspective not involved.
- The speaker makes inferences that there was a death another house.
- The speaker must see death a lot because he/she knows the common signs of death There's been a death in the opposite house
As lately as today.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway. The neighbours rustle in and out,
The doctor drives away.
A window opens like a pod,
Abrupt, mechanically; Somebody flings a mattress out, -
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy. The minister goes stiffly in
As if the house were his,
And he owned all the mourners now,
And little boys besides; And then the milliner, and the man
Of the appalling trade,
To take the measure of the house.
There'll be that dark parade
Of tassels and of coaches soon;
It's easy as a sign, -
The intuition of the news
In just a country town. - The looks the speaker see are depressing and sad
- All around is quiet and sad - The neighbors are paying their respects by visiting and coming in and out of the house
- The person is dead and doctor drives away because he is no longer needed - Throwing out the mattress to cleanse the area and get rid of the germs
- The children run by because they think the dead person must have died on it
- Refers to the deceased as "It" showing that he/she is no longer a person - The minister takes over after death which conveys religious beliefs about after death
- The minister knows what he is doing and everyone listens to him - Actually a hat-maker who takes measurements for the hat the deceased is supposed to wear
- The next man finds measurements to build the coffin (appalling job)
- The dark parade is the funeral procession where everyone wears black - Tassels and the coaches which are part of the funeral procession and mourners following are a sign that death has occurred
- News travels fast around small towns - Appalling and dark are used by the speaker to convey how people feel about death and the things that come with it.
- People are very sensitive after a death has occurred - Even though death is a sad event, it is a natural occurrence.
- The tone is more factual than sad and mournful. The speaker is describing the events and trying to convey that death is natural and happens everyday. 1. Who is the author of the poem? A. Emilia Dixon


B. Emily Dickinson


C. Sam Dixon


D. Dr. Suess 2. All of the following are literary techniques used EXCEPT.... A. Simile


B. Personification


C. Onomatopoeia


D. None of the above are used 3. What is the rhyme scheme of this stanza? There's been a death in the opposite house
As lately as today.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway. 4. What does the poem convey about death? A. Death is a universal and natural occurrence


B. Death is the end of the world for loved ones


C. Death is happy


D. This poem isn't about death.... 5. Who did Emily Dickinson marry? A. William Shakespeare


B. Robert Frost


C. Edward Cummings


D. She did not marry 6. Why does the author include the line about the mattress being thrown out? A. Because she wanted to


B. Because that is what happened


C. The deceased was on the bed and they wanted to get rid of the memories


D. It was common to throw the mattress away because it "cleansed" the house 7. What is the tone of the poem? A. Happy


B. Depressed


C. Matter-of-fact


D. Abstemious 8. Why do you think Emily Dickinson chose to write from a man's perspective? They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy. 9. Which of the following is a sign of death the speaker mentioned? A. He saw the stabbing


B. He talked to the doctor


C. He saw the doctor leave


D. Someone told him 10. When was Emily Dickinson born? A. December 10, 1830


B. May 15, 1830


C. December 10, 1886


D. May 15, 1886 Lines 3-4 “I know it by the numb look such houses have alway” exemplifies personification in that the facade of the house is perceived as displaying a human emotion like sadness. The house appears to be distraught over the death as a human would. Line 5 “The neighbors rustle in and out” consists of imagery used by the word rustle. The imagery in the word rustle comes from the rustling sound of dead leaves in the fall, much like the bodies that leave this world. Lines 17-18 “… and the man of the appalling trade” has a sense of irony embedded in it. Considering a profession of such importance, preparing the final house for the dead in preparation for their funeral, burial, and after-life seems absurd for the purpose it serves. The house is representative of the work as a whole. The cleansing transformation the house experiences after death is a small aspect depicted in the poem for the overall grieving process that humans experience after death. Line 7 “A window opens like a pod” uses the word like to compare the two actions, neither of which is done with much emotional attachment or consideration.

Line 22 “It’s as easy as a sign” suggests that the signs of death and mourning, dark colors like black, preparations for a funeral, are easy to spot by onlookers, much like a road sign would be seen and read. The word “house” found in line 19 symbolizes where bodies lay to rest. Living beings sleep in their house but the dead sleep in coffins, the house of the dead. Imagery Irony Metonymy Personification Simile Symbol Dickinson was generally criticized for using inexact rhymes, rough rhythms, and colloquial diction, and for taking liberties with grammar. Her odd punctuation - heavy on dashes - and her peculiar use of capitalization were also unappreciated. “There’s been a death in the opposite house” exemplifies the inexact rhymes. For example, “house” and “out” are attempted to be rhymed. The long vowel sound of “ou” is similar and the reason why they are considered rhymes but it is a stretch. The flow and natural breath of the reading is also interrupted with her use of dashes and other punctuation. Time Period Gothic period of American Literature - 1800-1850
Gothic is a sub-genre of Romanticism (which was present in American Literature in the early 1800’s)

Typical characteristics of the Gothic period:
• Sublime and overt use of the supernatural
• Characters see themselves at the mercy of forces out of their control which they do not understand
•Motif of the "double": an individual with both evil and good characteristics
•Often involves the oppression of young women, forced apart from true love

This poem is morbid and addresses the concept of death. Dickinson was faced with many deaths of close friends and family in her lifetime. The interpretation of what death entails is attempted to be discussed. Dickinson, although not the speaker in this poem, is experienced in grieving and recognizes dying is often occurring and inevitable. THE END Kendall Cowne & Maggie Hutzel
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