Because I Could Not Stop for Death Analysis Essay

1955 Words Jul 18th, 2010 8 Pages
“Because I Could Not Stop For Death” Analysis

The poem, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” by Emily Dickinson

presents captivating themes on the cycle of life, time, and death. The first two lines,

“Because I could not stop for death - / He kindly stopped for me – “ (Dickinson 679;

Stanza 1, Line 1 & 2), capture the poem’s central theme, but the interpretations of

that theme vary widely. This variation would have to do with how one would

interpret Death. The three varied elements that are used to describe the theme are

the civil character of Death, how Death has to do with the eternal life and, and

sailing through time in order to look back at seeing the positives of living every day

life. One would
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It is used to describe a grave where her body will be put as she proceeds

through her journey. She describes this house as a “Swelling of the Ground,” which

represents an image of a fresh burial plot. The “Cornice,” (Dickinson 679; Stanza 5,

Line 20) also known as the ornamental molding near the roofline, is slightly seen

through the ground. One thing that she doesn’t describe is how long they “paused”

(Dickinson 679; Stanza 5, Line 17) there. This is another way to understand the

underlying meaning of Death. Euphemism is a way of defining something in a more

pleasant way, rather than facing the possible harshness of it. This ties into what the

meaning of Death is in this poem, because the terms that Emily Dickinson use to

substitute the places that the main character goes through while she is in a state of

death are imagined as a fascinating, memorable experience. However, the main

character becomes a bit dumbfounded by her surroundings and begins to question

about why her entire experience of being with Death is a good thing, and not a bad

thing. While she contemplates, her journey still remains a mystery.

In the sixth stanza, Death’s underlying meaning becomes a beneficial

influence when it is known as something that lasts forever. In these final lines,

Dickinson has attempted to describe what is unknown about the meaning of Death.

In the poem, the narrative figure, “surmised” (Dickinson 679;

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