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The Meaning of Death in "The Last Night that She Lived" by Emily Dickinson

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Introduction

Lindsay Mitchell Mrs. Holladay AP English September 13, 2002 The Meaning of Death "The Last Night that She Lived" by Emily Dickinson is a simple, but articulately worded poem that shows the myriad feelings that the death of a loved one evokes. The speaker's terse speech and simple word choice emphasize the idea that in death, everyone is equal. Additionally, the speaker relates that although death may occur on the most common of nights, death is never a common experience. Instead, death is a part of nature that cannot be avoided and must simply be accepted. The succinct style of this eulogy like poem helps to develop the speaker's idea about the relationship between nature and death. Throughout this poem, the speaker uses word choice and theme to further emphasize this idea while at the same time convey the common feelings that death elicits. ...read more.

Middle

In the second and third stanzas of this poem, the speaker relates his feelings about the woman's death that are found more commonly among people who lose a loved one. The speaker states that he feels "a Blame/ That Others could exist/ While She must finish quite" (lines 12-14). Stated simply, the speaker emphasizes a common facet of death: an unwillingness to accept the randomness with which Death chooses its victims. The speaker resents the fact that this woman is being taken from him, but at the same time, he makes a statement that demonstrates his better understanding of nature and death. The speaker says that he goes into the woman's room "And Rooms where Those to be alive/ Tomorrow were" (lines 11-12). This statement shows that while the speaker experiences grief over the loss of the woman, he also understands that her death is but another episode in her life and only one small part of the cycle of life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Additionally, the speaker says that the woman "consented" and "struggled scarce". By observing this, the speaker sees that the woman accepts the fact that all things must die and placidly completes her final task in life: to die herself. At first glance, "The Last Night that She Lived" may seem like a somber poem about the death of a loved one. However, the speaker's uses of common language and the underlying relationship between death and nature make this more of a poem of acceptance. Throughout the seven stanzas of this poem, the speaker makes known that he mourns the loss of this woman, but he does not believe that she dies in vain. Instead, the speaker is able to see that the woman's death fits intricately into the cycle of life and death found in nature. It is this realization that makes this poem not one of sadness, but one of acceptance and understanding of the inner-workings of nature. Mitchell-2 ...read more.

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