Analysis of Because I Could Not Stop for Death Essay

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Emily Dickinson is one of the most important American poets of the 1800s. Dickinson, who was known to be quite the recluse, lived and died in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, spending the majority of her days alone in her room writing poetry. What few friends she did have would testify that Dickinson was a rather introverted and melancholy person, which shows in a number of her poems where regular themes include death and mortality. One such poem that exemplifies her “dark side” is, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. In this piece, Dickinson tells the story of a soul’s transition into the afterlife showing that time and death have outright power over our lives and can make what was once significant become meaningless. While we now …show more content…
Our entire existence is constrained by time, not even allowing us the right of determining how or when our mortal lives draw to a close. The ensuing line states, “He kindly stopped for me” (Line 2). From this, the reader could possibly deduce that the narrator was glad to see death. Dickinson was known throughout her life to have been oddly fascinated with death and immortality, so it’s not out of the question to assume that this fascination was reflected in the narrator’s personality and was why death was welcomed. However, a more likely conclusion is that Dickinson was merely being ironic. Death is ominous as it is a leap into the unknown; we simply cannot fathom the eternity of afterlife. Taking us without consent from our lives (which we already have no power over), and thrusting us into an incomprehensible eternity is not exactly a kind act to commit, thus irony was used in this case. This further strengthens the idea that our lives are out of our control because with or without consent, death will choose to take a life whenever he pleases. The first stanza concludes by stating, “The carriage held but just ourselves/And Immortality” (Lines 3-4). These lines are used to acknowledge that there is a difference between death and time, because while they work in unison they still are not one and the same. Time has control over our lives during both mortality and
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