Emily Elizabeth Dickinson's Because I Could Not Stop For Death

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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, also known as the Belle Of Amherst, was a poet who wrote a plethora of poems dealing with death. One of Dickinson’s most famous poems to date is “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” In “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” a woman is visited by Death and Immortality, both whom take the woman on a scenic ride to the spirit world. Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses powerful and vivid imagery to give the reader a sense of crossing from the real world into the spirit world. In the beginning, Death is personified as a “gentleman” with human behaviors. Dickinson never clarifies Death’s physical appearance in the poem. Critics like those in Poetry for Students argue that Dickinson never states “Whether Death takes the form…show more content…
According to Chris Semansky, ‘“Death’ … is personified as a suitor who takes his potential bride away from her busy life” (Semansky). The woman puts away her responsibilities to “marry” Death. To make sure that the speaker marries him, Death uses his “civility” to persuade and beguile her into accepting the kind invitation. According to Paul Ferlazzo, “the persona is too busy and too contented as she lives her life to bother to stop for the gentleman’s call; but, through his kindness and consideration, she is compelled at last to go with him” (Ferlazzo 55). By being courteous and respectful towards the woman, Death gains her trust and loyalty. The speaker is, according to Ruth Miller, “abandon[ing] the world” (Miller 194) to be with Death. To ensure success, Death brings a chaperone, “Immortality,” who is in collusion with Death’s mendacious plan. Immortality plans to help Death with the driving, so he can focus on the unsuspecting woman. As a result of Death’s kindness and compassion, the woman puts aside her “labor and leisure” to accept Death’s hidden malevolent request. As a result Death pretended benevolence to gain the woman's trust and attention. According to “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” “… [the] implicit trust the speaker had for her caller [was] not rewarded” (“Because I Could Not Stop for Death”). The speaker places her trust…show more content…
Since the woman agrees to go with Death, that causes her downfall in the poem. Marrying the “gentleman” brings her death. According to Gray, “… the poem becomes a protest against the limited options in women’s lives” (Gray). In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” the woman has no other option but to accept the carriage ride to her death and follow the “gentleman’s” orders. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” argues that “Recounting the experience in [‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’] underscores the very male-driven nature of courtship—a ritual dependent on male initiative” (“Because I Could Not Stop for Death”). Throughout the poem the woman is dependent on the “gentleman” and unknowingly follows his lead all the way to her grave. At the beginning, she puts away her “labor and leisure” for Death, without questioning his intentions. The woman doesn't get a choice at the “House” (Dickinson); the speaker states, “We paused before a House…” (Dickinson). The speaker doesn't get a choice to either accept or deny her marriage. Overall, Death is a false “gentleman” who rules over her choices by deluding her into his trap. Death ends up cheating her not only of her feelings, but her life as

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