Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Emily Dickinson’s Guide to Mortality College

Is death to be feared as an uncertain end or is it to be embraced as a natural gateway to something greater? This is a question that Emily Dickinson tackles throughout her poetry. In her poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” she acknowledges the common perception of death while presenting the reader with the antithesis. She then leaves her poem open for interpretation and application, which allows the reader to take into consideration both the positive and negative perceptions of death in order to decide how to cope with this inevitable fate. In her poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Emily Dickinson uses positive personification, comforting imagery, and the voice of the narrator in order to present the reader with a different way to approach and cope with mortality.

In Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” death is personified as an amiable person of civility. “Because I could not stop for Death—/ He kindly stopped for me” (Dickinson 1-2). In these opening lines, Dickinson identifies the human tendency to oppose or resist death by claiming she “could not stop” living. This is the sentiment that Dickinson is trying to overturn with this poem. “When she says ‘he kindly stopped for me’, we can see she...

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