Dickinson humanizes death by calling it a “he” in the first two lines of her poem. She writes, “Because I could not stop for Death - He kindly stopped for me- ” (1). She personified death because she used “him” to chauffer her in the carriage. Typically, a person doesn’t choose when to die, therefore she needed to be transported to her grave, regardless of what work or play she was in the middle of doing. This idea is evident in the title of Dickinson’s poem. In the second stanza, the narrator says “And I had put away my labor and my leisure too, for his civility” (6). She willingly stops what she is doing and goes with Death out of respect to “him” and his politeness.
The attitude and tone of “Because I could not stop for death” are portrayed in an unusual way that does not reflect the common thoughts on death and dying. Dickinson carefully uses words such as; “kindly”, “slowly”, “civility”, and “passed” to convey a tone that is peaceful and calm, rather than terrifying and alarming. The narrator finds comfort in her journey to this unknown destination, because death is written into the poem as a good mannered person, w...
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...he was clearly unprepared for her own death. The house the carriage paused at was described as a “swelling of the ground” which represents a grave that has been dug. The narrator realized the horses’ heads were unordinary and were leading the carriage ride straight to her death and then into eternity.
The narrator told this story centuries later, however, her memories of her death are still very vivid. The story of her death told as it were happening would convey a tone of fear and sorrow. The peacefulness of this poem can be related to the amount of time that had gone by, as well as the lack of detail in describing her thoughts and feelings during the carriage ride. Dickinson uses the description of only the visual things she can see on her journey to avoid the common reaction to death people have and share her thoughts about the afterlife and what it must be like.
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