Emily Dickinson Analysis

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Death is an inevitable aspect of the human experience.  Just as all life begins, eventually it must come to the end.  However, no matter how natural the presence of death is, the majority of human beings tend to reject the notion of death as something evil and fearsome.  The foundation of the fear of death lies in the fact that people do not wish for their lives and experiences to end.  Past the known experience of life is a very large and overwhelming unknown, defined by the uncertainty of what, if anything, comes after life.  Emily Dickinson presents a unique outlook on decease, contrary to traditional notions.  In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death”, the speaker details her comfortable and familiar relationship with death through the use of tools such as metaphor, imagery, and tone. 
One of the key devices that Emily Dickinson employs in her poem in order to communicate the closeness and familiarity of her relationship with death.  The poem is dominated by an overarching extended metaphor that is introduced in the first few lines.  “Because I could not stop for Death,/He kindly stopped for me;/The carriage held but just ourselves/And Immortality,” (Lines 1-4, Dickinson).  In this metaphor, the speaker likens death to a gentlemen caller who accompanies her on a trip to some place.  The speaker also makes sure to point out how the speaker is both polite and courteous, “kindly” stopping for her.  This extended metaphor works to personify death, which automatically makes the idea of death less frightening and intimidating, and more friendly and approachable.  “We slowly drove, he knew no haste,/.. For his civility,” (Lines 5,8, Dickinson).  In this excerpt, the speaker makes a point to describe the ease and slowness of her journey with death.  Death takes his time while driving the carriage, which furthermore increases the comfortability of the speaker while in his presence. She goes on to say that she has given up her work and joys for the graciousness of the man.  The use of metaphor hear conveys the almost pleasant and comforting experience with death that the speaker has, as her journey is not overwhelmingly fast and the man she travels with is well mannered.
Dickinson additionally utilizes the devices of tone and imagery in her poem to communicate the speaker’s fond and familiar relationship with death.  For example, the speaker’s choice of imagery when describing what is seen on the carriage ride indicates the nature of her feelings towards death.  “We passed the school where the children played,/Their lessons scarcely done;/We passed the fields of gazing grain,/We passed the setting sun,” (Lines 9-12, Dickinson). The imagery used in this excerpt is peaceful and calming in nature.  Through highlighting the scenes of children playing in a school, the speaker evokes the feelings of innocence and fun that young children experience while growing up.  Furthermore, the speaker also creates images of fields and a sunset, which can both be interpreted as beautiful and soothing.  Since the speaker focuses on pleasant and happy images while on her carriage ride, she implies to the readers that she doesn’t view death as an unpleasant and alarming experience.  Instead, the speaker embraces the presence of death as though it is a good friend.  “Since then ’t is centuries; but each/ Feels shorter than the day/ I first surmised the horses’ heads/Were toward eternity.” (Lines 13-16, Dickinson).  In this quote, the speaker takes on a placid and accepting tone when mentioning her death, which occurred hundreds of years ago.  Even though her death happened so long ago, she still feels as though it happened recently, which communicates towards readers her intimacy with death.  This casual yet appreciating tone also conveys her relaxation in regards to her passing.
Death is often a hard thing for most people to imagine happening to themselves, let alone accepting it.  Essentially, all human beings possess some sort of fear of the uncertain nature of their existence, as well as of their existence being forgotten. Emily Dickinson provides readers with an anomaly of sorts, as the speaker in her poem “Because I could not stop for Death” fails to find the fear of death.  Instead, the speaker highlights her close and fond relationship with death through the use of metaphors, imagery, and tone. Ultimately, an analysis of the connection between the speaker and death in Emily Dickinson’s poem encourages readers to examine their own perceptions of death and existence.






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