Emily Dickinson, title - 'Critical Analysis of 'Because I could not stop for death''

Essay by princess147High School, 12th grade March 2004

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Emily Dickinson thoroughly explores every aspect of death in her poetry. She considers the physical, the psychological and the emotional aspects of this unknowable experience. She looks at death from the perspective of both the living and the dying, even imagining her own death. In 'I felt a Funeral, in my Brain' it is as though she is observing her death, and in 'I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -' she captures the very moment of death and reflects upon what it may be like in a very calming manner. Death is the one completely unknowable experience, which many people spend their life pondering about until the day they reach it, and Dickinson devotes much of her poetry to imagining its many faces.

In 'Because I could not stop for Death', Dickinson enacts the journey of death. Death is personified, and the words used to describe him are 'kindly' and 'For his Civility' therefore presenting him as a polite and courteous gentleman who stops to take her for a ride in his carriage.

The chaperone here is Immortality, and the suggestion from the image of having both Death and Immortality in the carriage with her is that she is about to undertake a long but unthreatening journey, and moving to 'Eternity'.

In the second stanza, the fact that she had to put away 'My labor and my leisure too' suggest that death is not a hurried, unexpected and dramatic experience as we may think. Instead this image, along with many others in the poem, offers the view that death is merely the beginning of another existence, and is not something to fear.

The third stanza takes us away from the immediate environment in which she lives and is familiar with. The description of the view could...