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Analysis of "Because I could not stop for death" by Emily Dickinson

Uploaded by fiwer on Mar 29, 2005

In Emily Dickinson’s, “Because I could not stop for Death”, the speaker personifies death as a polite and considerate gentleman (which is very ironic because by many people death is believed to be a dreadful event) who takes her in a carriage for a journey “toward Eternity” (l. 24); however, at the end of this poem, she finishes her expedition realizing that she has died many years ago.

In the first stanza, she begins her journey with a gentleman named Death who takes her along to the carriage “the carriage held but just ourselves” (l.3). Even though in the first line, the poet suggests of the speaker's disappearance in the world (death, the event that takes life away, has being personified into a human form and is taking Dickinson away again as “the carriage held but just ourselves” suggests), nevertheless the speaker believes that she is still alive. With the use of the term “Immortality” (l. 4) the poet shows that at the beginning of her journey the speaker is young and enthusiastic to tell about her existence of life in the world and that she cannot think of dying.

In the second stanza, Death drives her so well (unhurriedly) “we slowly drove, he knew no haste” (l. 5) that it suggests pleasantness. For the pleasure he has given her, she rewards him by putting away her “labor” (her struggle) and “leisure” (her freedom) (I. 6) for his politeness “civility” (l. 8).

Symbolically, in stanza three, the poem signifies the three general stages of life: childhood represented by “Children strove” (l. 9), youth represented by “the Fields of Gazing Grains” (l. 11) and the end of the life symbolized by “the Setting Sun” (l. 12). On the way of her journey, the speaker views children struggling to win in the race in School. She also sees cereal grasses collectively in the field, and at last the speaker perceives with her eyes that the sun is setting on the way of her journey. This stanza gives us a clue of her passing by this world; however the speaker is realize that she has passing away. She simply believes the sun is setting on a regular basis.

The first line of stanza four “Or rather, he passed us” (l. 13) demonstrates that the speaker is uncertain about her existence in the world. Now she feels that her life symbolized by the sun is passing by. She...

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Uploaded by:   fiwer

Date:   03/29/2005

Category:   Poetry

Length:   3 pages (726 words)

Views:   8166

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