“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, and Emily Dickinson’s poems, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”, “Success is Counted Sweetest” “I heard a Fly buzz”, and “Because I could not stop for Death” each share the common themes of life, success, failure and death. Each literary work emphasizes the opportunity to succeed, but the chance of failure because of specific actions. In Hemingway’s short story, he creates the theme of having to be display qualities of bravery in order to be pleased in life. In Dickinson’s poems she explains the thought behind stretching the truth, appreciating the things in life that we should not take for granted, the final moments before death, and death perceived as a suitor. This short story and these poems are all examples of life and the possibility of death due to poor decisions.
“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway is about a man named Francis Macomber who takes his wife, Margaret, into the African safari guided by a professional hunter, Robert Wilson. In the beginning of the story, Macomber is immediately confronted with a wounded lion that threatens to kill him. Margaret laughs at Macomber’s cowardice and the reader can tell that there is some tension in this relationship. That evening, Margaret sleeps with Robert Wilson and Macomber is simply disgusted. The following day, the three of them head back into the safari to hunt buffalo. The two men encounter two buffalo, which eventually charge at them. They are able to kill both of the buffalo at the last minute; however, Margaret ends up trying to help by shooting her rifle, which ends up killing Macomber. Hemingway leaves the story with a cliffhanger by letting the reader guess as to whether or not Margaret killed her husband on purpose.
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant” by Emily Dickinson is about society being unable to handle the “straight up” truth. Instead, the truth is sometimes “stretched” or “sugar-coated” in order for people to accept it. To tell the complete truth is very difficult for some people to tell or to accept. Dickinson explains, “The Truth’s superb surpriseAs Lightning to the Children eased”. To surprise someone with the truth is like a child seeing lightning for the first time and trying to explain it to him or her. Dickinson states that the truth should “slant” because it should be told little by little, not to lie.
“Success is counted Sweetest” by Emily Dickinson is about a person who really appreciates and is thankful for their successes in life. The loser in this poem understands the meaning of winning, more than a winner does because through his defeat and death, he does not take his blessings for granted. Dickinson explains, “Success is counted sweetest/By those who ne’er succeed.” This person comes to the realization that even though he had been blinded by his failures, he was still able to recognize his achievements in life.
“I heard a Fly buzz” by Emily Dickinson is about a painless death that is viewed as a horrific death. A fly appears in a room right before the person in the poem dies, which seems meaningless in the beginning, but becomes much more horrendous in the end. The only sounds made in the poem are the sounds of the buzzing by the fly. The person states that the fly is the last thing that the speaker experiences before his death. Dickinson explains, “For that last onset, when the king/Be witnessed in his power.” The speaker is stating that right before he dies and enters heaven, he hears the buzzing of this fly and his own interpretation.
“Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson is about viewing death as a gentlemen suitor. This poem represents the cycle of life and the fact the eventually everyone will die. The word “passed” is used four times throughout this poem to not only pass by the children while they are driving, but they are passing through time into death. Dickinson explains, “I first surmised the horses’ heads/Were toward eternity.” The speaker states that eventually they are going to have to deal with this suitor because he represents death and eternity.
“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, and Emily Dickinson’s poems, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”, “Success is Counted Sweetest” and “I heard a Fly buzz” each have positive and negative interpretations. “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, the reader can believe that Margaret killed her husband accidentally or on purpose. “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” is a poem that implies that the truth is important, but can be “stretched” in order to make it seem not as bad or good. “Success is Counted Sweetest” is a poem that involves a person who counts their blessings and successes when they are facing death. “I heard a Fly buzz” is a poem regarding the experiences of life in its final moments, which is the reason for living life each and every day as if it’s your last day. “Because I could not stop for Death” is a poem concerning the observation of death as a gentlemen suitor. Overall, each story insinuated the opportunities to succeed in life, and that small actions can influence the possibility of death.