Because I Could Not Stop for Death and I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died Poems by Emily Dickinson

Because I Could Not Stop for Death and I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died Poems by Emily Dickinson

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Death is a controversial and sensitive subject. When discussing death, several questions come to mind about what happens in our afterlife, such as: where do you go and what do you see? Emily Dickinson is a poet who explores her curiosity of death and the afterlife through her creative writing ability. She displays different views on death by writing two contrasting poems: one of a softer side and another of a more ridged and scary side. When looking at dissimilar observations of death it can be seen how private and special it is; it is also understood that death is inevitable so coping with it can be taken in different ways. Emily Dickinson’s poems “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” show both parallel and opposing views on death.
In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” the speaker is explaining the passage of her own death from beyond the grave in a more tender way. In the beginning, the narrator is too busy for death-- “Because I could not stop for Death/ He kindly stopped for me” (Belasco 1338). The character is not going to wait for her life to end; rather the speaker will live life and allow death come to her naturally. Death is what helps the speaker stop. Death causes the narrator to give up what made her so busy—“And I had put away/ My labor and my leisure too” (Belasco 1338). Death gives the speaker a chance to reflect on life and the memories of it. “Death is figured as the nineteenth-century “gentleman caller,” but one who arrives unexpectedly” (Greenberg 219). The speaker acts kind towards death because she feels that death is chivalrous when it picks her up in a carriage and gives her time when she has none. “The speaker encounters two entities in the carriage when it...


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... they contrast on their perception of death. This allows one to conclude that Dickinson views death and afterlife as indecisive and unclear. Dickinson uses different strategies to highlight the changeable character of death. In “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” death signifies sorrow, but in “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” death is kind to the narrator. Dickinson indicates that death is unpredictable. Nesmith also writes that “while everything heretofore is like a well-rehearsed play—controlled, orchestrated, and scripted, proceeding according to ritual—the ill-timed fly ruins the finale. Yet death occurs anyways” (165). Death can mean different things such as, the end of life or the beginning eternity. Death does not follow an agenda and is far past human understanding. Death has many points of view and is always unable to be scheduled around a human’s plan.

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