While thinking of death, thoughts of grief, despair and worry arise. Perhaps this is a product of the darkness often times portrayed of death from contemporary literature, movies, and music. Movies such as “Schindler’s List” and music such as Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night” are just a few examples of entertainment that show the darkness and finality of death. These forms of medium only present the idea, as no one who wrote them actually experienced death and therefore the dark thoughts associated with it are ambiguous. In “712 (Because I Could not Stop for Death)”, poet Emily Dickinson also shows the darkness associated but she has a different view of death. She writes from the standpoint of a narrator who has experienced it and that narrator recalls their journey from life to death while existing in eternity. The poem deals with the idea that death, although powerful is also civilized, peaceful, and kind and those that embark on a journey with death are unaware of what is happening ultimately not choosing their own destination, but existing in eternity.
In the poem, death takes on a personified role and shows his desirable character traits. These traits are shown in the first stanza when the speaker says “I could not stop for Death –/ He kindly stopped for me –” (1-2). From the opening of the poem, we see Dickinson capitalizing the word death. As readers, we cannot further prove this as intentional because throughout the poem Dickinson pays no attention to literary rules and capitalizes an abundance of other words which should not be capitalized. Although the capitalization of “Death” cannot be proven, her reference to death as “He” does support an argument of personifying Death. Since De...
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...ou are in a carriage with death, you are thought to be on your final ride and so the only way to make sense of riding with both death and immortality, is if you indeed exist prior to your death, which is the case in this poem.
In conclusion, the concept of death has different meanings to everyone. For young people the concept is abhorrent while compared to those that are aged, sick and frail that welcome death. For writers of contemporary media such as those listed in the opening paragraph, death is often thought of as final and dark. But for the narrator of the poem, her personification of death as a gentleman and her experience in an eternal afterlife makes the morbid concept of death more palatable than the total ending of existence and nothing to come thereafter. It comes down to an individual’s faith in an eternal afterlife that decide how you will view death.
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