Because I Could Not Stop for Death Analysis Essay

1972 Words Aug 12th, 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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Some examples of images that she sees while she is on her journey with Death are:

children playing, wheat growing, and the sun setting. The children that she sees

playing “in the Ring” have a major influence of human beings because they

symbolize eternity. The wheat that grows symbolizes the natural world as she

currently views it. However, as time changes, the grain appears to be “gazing” at her,

or observing her with much interest. The “setting sun” represents the life clock,

which is also known as the thing that humans measure as the amount of time left to

live on earth. As time passes by, she passes with Death into another phase or

dimension. This all ties into what the young woman strives to do. As she journey’s

with Death, she relates everything that she does in every day living as something

she would still see when she is already dead. She tries to repress the stress of living,

but tries to think about it in a positive way. She temporarily loses herself in a

wonderland, where she imagines that everything she sees when she travels with

Death is a pleasant experience. Afterwards, she then tries to think positively of what

she can do to feel the same way when she is alive. As this happens, she spots

significant symbols that represent her life.

In the fifth stanza, the narrative figure uses euphemism as a way to

symbolize the mysterious places that she encounters at her time of
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