Emily Dickinson is one of the most famous authors in American History, and a good amount of that can be attributed to her uniqueness in writing. In Emily Dickinson's poem 'Because I could not stop for Death,' she characterizes her overarching theme of Death differently than it is usually described through the poetic devices of irony, imagery, symbolism, and word choice.
Emily Dickinson likes to use many different forms of poetic devices and Emily's use of irony in poems is one of the reasons they stand out in American poetry. In her poem 'Because I could not stop for Death,' she refers to 'Death' in a good way. Dickinson states in the poem that 'He kindly stopped for me --' (1103, 2). Death is not commonly known as being 'kind', which leads us to believe that Dickinson used this line to hint that death was a good thing. In the entire poem, she does not refer to death in a negative way. This shows more irony since death is often feared by many, either regarding themselves or other. This us of irony makes the poem more interesting to the reader.
Imagery is a big component to most works of poetry. Authors strive to achieve a certain image for the reader to paint in their mind. Dickinson tries to paint a picture of ?death? in her own words. Thomas A. Johnson, an interpretive author of Dickinson's work, says that ?In 1863 Death came into full statue as a person. ?Because I could not stop for Death? is a superlative achievement wherein Death becomes one of the greatest characters of literature? (Johnson). Dickinson's picture to the audience is created by making ?Death? an actual character in the poem. By her constantly calling death either ?his? or ?he,? she denotes a specific person and gender. Dickinson also compares ?Death? to having the same human qualities as the other character in the poem. She has ?Death? physically arriving and taking the other character in the carriage with him. In the poem, Dickinson shows the reader her interpretation of what this person is going through as they are dying and being taken away by ?Death?. Dickinson gives images such as ?The Dews drew quivering and chill --? and ?A Swelling of the Ground --? (14, 18). In both of these lines, Dickinson has the reader conjure up subtle images of death. The ?quivering an chill? brings to the reader's mind of death being ...
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...g to ?Eternity? (24). Dickinson also ties the sun into symbolism, but her use of ?sun? make sit an excellent word choice (12). The sun which symbolized the ending day, also can be meant to pass over ?all who are in the grave? (Johnson). With Emily Dickinson's anomalous word choice and her emphasis on certain words, she creates an ultimately more interesting poem.
In ?Because I could not stop for Death,? Emily Dickinson uses many poetic devices to make her poem stand out among other poems centered around death. Dickinson's use of irony, imagery, symbolism, and word choice adds to the overall effect of her view of ?death? itself. The way she structured this poem helps her stand out as one of the greatest poets of all-time.
Dickinson, Emily. ?Because I could not stop for Death.? Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Kennedy, X.J., Dana Gioia. New York, NY: Pearson Longman, 2005, 1103.
Johnson, Thomas H. Emily Dickinson: An Interpretive Biography. New York: Atheneum,1980. 222-224.