Analysis of "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

2013 Words Oct 2nd, 1999 9 Pages
Analysis of "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

The poets of the nineteenth century wrote on a variety of topics. One often used topic is that of death. The theme of death has been approached in many different ways. Emily Dickinson is one of the numerous poets who uses death as the subject of several of her poems. In her poem "Because I Could Not
Stop for Death," death is portrayed as a gentleman who comes to give the speaker a ride to eternity. Throughout the poem, Dickinson develops her unusual interpretation of death and, by doing so, composes a poem full of imagery that is both unique and thought provoking. Through Dickinson's precise style of writing, effective use of literary elements, and vivid imagery, she creates a
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Society in the 1800s viewed death as being morbid and evil. Dickinson, on the other hand, made death into being pleasant. She portrays death as being a kind gentleman, perhaps even a suitor, who is taking her out for a ride in a carriage. The imagery in
"Because" assists in the creation of a pleasant tone. Dickinson describes children playing, which also gives the poem a more affable mood. Another way in which Dickinson makes death a more agreeable subject for the reader is in the fifth quatrain as she compares the grave to a house. In line 17, she writes,
"We paused before a House." As she does so, the reader gets the image of a young lady being dropped off at her home by her suitor. However, as Dickinson goes on to write in line 18, "A Swelling of the Ground-," the reader is reminded that it is actually a grave that she is being taken to. Her grave is also portrayed as a house in lines 19 and 20 as she writes, "The Roof was scarcely visible- / The Cornice-in the Ground." The cornice can be viewed as being either the ornamental roofing around the speakers house, or as the molding around her coffin. By comparing the grave to a house, Dickinson helps to lighten the tone of the graveyard scene. The only time when Dickinson does give the reader a true sense of mortality is as the sun passes the speaker. She portrays the sense of mortality is