• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Because I Could Not Stop For Death" - Critical Analysis

Extracts from this document...


Emily Dickinson frequently explores death through her poetry, using her eponomous 'em' dashes to communicate the confusion created by an intelligent and exploratory approach to the afterlife in a mind indoctrinated in Puritan dogma. Death is initially presented in this poem as a very different character from its usual personification as a malign, scythe wielding spirit. Here, as the poem begins, he takes the form of a charming suitor who 'kindly' stops, and maintains his 'civility' throughout their journey. As we progress through the poem, however, the reader becomes increasingly suspicious that the apparently benevolent Death has not, in fact, got Dickinson's best intrests at heart. The fourth stanza marks the change in tone that reveals this; the onset of ominous 'chill' as the carriage passes into darkness highlights how unprepared Death has left her, providing no warning of what is to come. ...read more.


Life, in this poem, is extrodinarily transient, compressed into the third stanza where childhood, the ripening 'Grain' of middle age and the setting sun of old age's decline are ploughed through in four lines. The poet makes this already short liftime seem even less substantial by the anaphoric use of 'We passed', which increases the pace of the poem and gives the passage of time an inevitable feel. Where the poem's journey of death concludes is unclear, but we do know that there is a pause, perhaps a terminal pause, at a house in the ground. Dickinson's use of imagery here is ingenious, as the reader's initial confusion mimics the narrator's, until we too surmise that this abode, this 'swelling in the ground' is a grave, thought of only by the deceased as a 'house'. The repetition and ryhme of 'ground' at the end of two lines in this stanza gives it a pounding finality; suggesting perhaps that this, and not the expected 'Immortality', is to be Dickinson's final resting place. ...read more.


'Because I could not stop for Death ?' is perhaps, as a result, quite a cynical poem, making no promises of salvation or a Christian heaven. It, in some senses, continues a trend set by 'This world is not Conlcusion.' and 'Behind me ? dips Eternity ?'; a trend of diminishing confidence: Dickinson's once absolute faith in a world beyond our own develops into a confused fear at the nature of the afterlife; it may be a 'Maelstrom in the sky', surrounded by 'Midnight', or perhaps just a house in the ground. All this confusion is the product of Dickinson's upbringing; 'the Tooth that nibbles at the soul' is a doubt that was to Puritans damning, and once she admits to herself its existence her future is uncertain and heaven perhaps inachievable. Despite it's bleak outlook however, the poem still stands a facinating exploration of the nature of the next world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Poets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Poets essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Understanding Place and Language in Olive Senior's "Gardening in the Tropics"

    5 star(s)

    In order to break this kind of mentality, rather than demean and look down upon Creole, it is for us to embrace it, not just as the dialect of the people and of informal speech, but as a language of freedom, meant to be as exalted and as recognized as the language of the colonizer.

  2. Emily Bronte-Cold in the Earth Critical Analysis

    lover's passing, the self-healing process acted as a learning curve for her and due to that learning she has gained more from life, as she now appreciates its value. In the final stanza Bronte reflects on the pain she felt, but instead of remembering it as a horrible experience she

  1. The Glass Jar (Gwen Harwood) Analysis. The Glass Jar, dedicated to Vivian Smith, ...

    There are similar rites of passage for the return of the Homecoming Queen, the favoured daughter who has gone away to college and who is now returning. All these are the typical associations with a homecoming. Now these same boys are coming home to a different kind of 'Homecoming', to families frozen in grief.

  2. How does Dickinson mock puritan values in her poems?

    This gives the word 'conclusion' emphasises and shows its importance. This line shows religious connotations since it is related to death. It neither mocks or supports puritanism however it just highlights something that the speaker confidently believes. Poem 501 is written without any stanzas and flows right the way through

  1. Discuss Harrison's exploration of family relationships

    Harrison wants to be close to his father but he must give up his education and social level so that he can keep a close relationship. The second "Book Ends" poem continues to give the reader more and more information about the relationship between Harrison and his father.

  2. Analysis of "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" by Emily Dickinson

    She begins to realize the ?Gossamer? and ?Tippet? that shroud her corpse, the result of becoming ?Death?s bride?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work