Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Death, the Gentleman College

“Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, is a poem that explores dying as peaceful and ordinary, which is unlike some of Dickinson's poems focusing on death that are unnerving. This exploration comes from a speaker, who is long dead, retelling the “carriage ride” she took before entering eternity. In the second line the speaker explains, “He kindly stopped for me -”, which immediately portrays "Death," as a character, as kind. Readers continue to learn how Death has these positive qualities. By the end of the poem, Dickinson convinces readers dying is peaceful and ordinary through personification, symbolism, and euphemisms.


From the beginning of "Because I could not stop for Death", Emily Dickinson uses the personification of Death to portray the theme. In the first line of the poem, “Because I could not stop for Death”, which also gives the title, “Death” begins with a capital letter. By using a capital letter, Death becomes a proper name, like a human. The speaker also lists two personality traits of Death. These two characteristics are given in lines “He kindly stopped for me -” (line 2) and “For His Civility -” (line 8) From the beginning of the poem, Death becomes both kind and civil. In whole, Death is...

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