Emily Dickinson: Because I Could Not Stop For Death

1095 words - 5 pages

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in December of 1830 to Edward Dickinson and Emily Norcross Dickinson. Emily spent her childhood and adulthood living in the family home with her sister Lavinia. Emily received her education through the local schools and at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (Johnson). Emily appeared to have an active and social presence in society until her return from a trip to Philadelphia in the early part of the 1850’s. It is said that her withdrawal from society began shortly after her return from Philadelphia because she had fallen in love with a married minister (Emily Dickinson). It has also been said that Emily suffered an emotional crisis in the ...view middle of the document...

It also has caused mixed reactions because of its subject matter; death and immortality. One critic, Allen Tate, praises it as being “one of the greatest in the English language” and another critic, Yvor Winters, disagrees, he says that her work is “unconvincing and fraudulent” (Emily Dickinson). I agree with Allen Tate, it is one of the greatest.
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is about a women who remains so busy that she never has time to stop and think about anything else, including death. But on this day “Death” stops her. “Death” appears to be kind and polite as he approaches the woman. He offers her a carriage ride with him and his friend “Immortality”. “Immortality” appears to be silent, never speaks, and is only mentioned this one time throughout the poem. The woman appears to not be afraid of “Death” or “Immortality” and joins them on the carriage ride. The woman’s acceptance to take a carriage ride with “Death” suggests that the woman has no fear of dying and welcomes death happily.
The carriage slowly moves along as if there is no time schedule and “Death” has no pressing matters. The woman seems as if she no longer has a care in world and nothing else matters except her carriage ride with “Death”. The carriage symbolizes a coffin inside of a hearse during a funeral procession. The slowness in which the carriage is moving could be the result of a slow death for the woman, meaning, that her death could have resulted from a disease or disability that kills slowly over a period of time. The woman still appears to be unafraid because of “Death’s” civility .
As they pass the school where the children strove in the ring at recess, she reflects on her on childhood. As they slowly move passed the school yard, they pass the fields of gazing grain, in which she reflects upon her adulthood. “Death” then drives passed the setting sun. The driving passed the setting sun has two representations: 1) for mortals, who gage the time they have left in the day, and 2) for immortals, the passing into another life – death.
At this point she realized just how slow “Death” is driving, it is at...

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