Emily Dickinson's Feelings About Death Revealed in Her Poem, Because I could not stop for Death

Emily Dickinson's Feelings About Death Revealed in Her Poem, Because I could not stop for Death

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Emily Dickinson's Feelings About Death Revealed in Her Poem, Because I could not stop for Death


Emily Dickinson grew up in New England in the late 1800s. The nineteenth century was a difficult time period for the people of America. There was an abundance of war, epidemic, and death. Because her house was located beside a graveyard, Dickinson saw many of the elaborate funeral processions as they passed (Murray). Because of these experiences, death became very real to her, and it made a large impression on her life. Conrad Aikin, one of the many critics of Dickinson's work, believes that: "Death and the problem of life after death obsessed her" (15). She had a very peculiar idea about eternity that was unlike any of the traditional Christian ideas of that time period. Dickinson's strong feelings about death are expressed through hundreds of poems where she maximizes and characterizes many qualities of death. However, "Because I could not stop for Death" is one that receives a great deal of critical attention and causes a great deal of interest. In this poem, Dickinson uses personification and metaphors to develop the idea of death, which is a suitor arriving, and to reveal how doubtful the speaker is about the indefinite event of eternity. Through this poem, Dickinson allows the reader to see her feelings about death. She feels that no one can know for sure what will take place after death, and she believes the idea of eternity is unknown.

In "Because I could not stop for Death," the poet personifies death, making him a real person with human characteristics. For this reason, many consider this poem one of her greatest works. Chris Semansky has written a great deal about modern and postmodern literature. In the article "An ...


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...et al. The Emily Dickinson Handbook. Amherst: U of Massachusetts
P, 1998.

Meyer, Michael, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing.
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999.

Murray, Barbara. Personal Interview. 21 Mar. 2001.

Semansky, Chris. "An Overview of 'Because I could not stop for Death.'" Poetry for
Students, GaleNet, 1997. March 2001.
<http://www.galenet.gale.com>.

Sewall, Richard B. ed. Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey:
Prentice-Hall, 1963.

Tate, Allen. "Emily Dickinson." Sewall 22.

-. "Essay." Poetry Criticism. 16 Vols. Ed. Robert V. Young. Detroit: Gale Research,
1991. 2: 84-85.

Wiebuch, Robert. "Prisming Dickinson; or Gathering Paradise by Letting Go."
Grabher et al. 214.

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