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BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH THEME OF MORTALITY

Mortality is probably the major theme in this poem. It's all about the speaker's attitude toward
her death and what the actual day of her death was like. Dickinson paints a picture of the day
that doesn't seem too far from the ordinary (that is, if you're used to having a guy named Death
take you out on dates). The speaker isn't scared of death at all, and seems to accept it.

THEME OF IMMORTALITY
That's right, two opposite themes Mortality and Immortality occupy this poem. We find out
that the memory of the speaker's death day is being told centuries into the afterlife. So, in this
poem, Dickinson explores the idea of perpetual life. In this poem there is life after death, which
offers an explanation as to why the speaker's so calm about everything. Death's not the end,
just one step closer to eternity.

THEME OF SPIRITUALITY
Well, the speaker is a ghost, which means Dickinson had to believe in some sort of life after
death (and we do know that she grew up in a Christian family). But she leaves specific religious
references out of the poem, and we don't know if the speaker is recalling the memory of her
death from Heaven, Hell, or somewhere else; we only know that it's a place beyond this world.

THEME OF LOVE
The poem doesn't really address love head-on, but it certainly gives us a glimpse into courtship
(a.k.a. dating) and romantic love. If you exchange "Tom" or "Joe" for "Death" here, this could be
a pretty good example of dating for the 1800s. The speaker's tone in the poem makes the
reader believe the speaker does not fear death, but feels the opposite toward it. If the poem did
not explore death with an underlying theme of love, the acceptance of death might eventually be
hard for the reader to believe.

One of the strongest themes to arise out of Dickinson's poem is the embrace
of the end force that is inevitably felt by all living creatures. Dickinson
creates a portrait of death which is not fearful or brutal, but rather one of
calm comfort that is to visit everyone as their inevitable end is marked. The
opening lines confirm this: "He kindly stopped for me." The notion of
characterizing death as "kindly" and gracious is a powerful
reconceptualization as opposed to the standard gloomy notion. At the same
time, the vision offered through the poem is one of reflection and nostalgia,
where death and the speaker visit school yards at recess, open fields, and
engage in the process of thoughtful rumination on the nature of existence.
This is a vision of death that is not fearful, but rather receptive to what is
awaiting all life. In the process, a theme that arises is that one should not
live their life in fear of death, but rather examine a life where there is some
notion of happiness when the inevitability of the carriage "kindly" stops for
all of us.

Theme: Life is linked to death and Death always accompanies us.

we cannot escape from death.

One should not fear death as it is a part of our life.Hence we all know we will
die one day wheather we are prepared or not.

One should not fear death since it is the integral part of the endless cycle of
nature.

main point is acceptance of death... we are not prepared but somehow we all
know we're gonna die. we are never prepared for death, yet when it comes
we must accept it peacefully. like the way she wasnt prepared (hense he thin
clothing) but she was never scared. she was at peace. she had forgotten her
obligations.

another theme is immortality.

We are all a part of a bigger cycle of life, and we must not fear death for it is
an experience that we will all eventually go through. This poem reminds me
a lot of "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant, because both describe
humans as being a part of the cycle of life and being one with nature. Also,
both poems discuss the idea that one must not fear death, and instead
accept it into our lives and view death with a more optimistic approach.

Themes and Meanings

Death is a frequent concern of Dickinsons poetry. Often as a means to its


exploration, she will seek its objectification through a persona who has
already died. In other poems, she is quite sensitive to the fact of death and
its impoverishment of those who remain. In some poems, she is resentful
toward God, who robs people of those they love and is seemingly indifferent
to such loss. One cannot explore the catalyst of life events behind
Dickinsons marked sensitivity with any certainty because she lived a
remarkably private life. For her, death was only one more form of distancing.
As she wrote in poem 749: All but Death can be Adjusted. Perhaps two of
her most famous lines express it best: Parting is all we know of heaven,/
And all we need of hell (poem 1732).
Emily Dickinson was very familiar with death. Thirty-three of her
acquaintances had died between February, 1851, and November, 1854,
including her roommate at Holyoke College. Her mothers family seemed
predisposed to early deaths. Then the momentous death of her father
occurred in 1874. In 1882, eight years after the death of her father, she
wrote that no verse in the Bible has frightened me so much from a Child as
from him that hath not, shall be taken even that he hath. Was it because its
dark menace deepened our own Door?

Some may see this poem as conciliatory, even Christian, given that
Immortality rides in the carriage and that the persona speaks of Eternity in
the end. Death, by this notion, becomes Gods emissary taking one into
Eternity. For others, however, there is no resurrection, no specifying of an
afterlife. Immortality is employed ironically, not to suggest everlasting life,
but everlasting death. As a consort of death, one need not be puzzled by
Immortalitys presence in the carriage. This is the import of the final stanza,
when the speaker exclaims, Since thentis Centuriesand yet/ Feels
shorter than the Day/ I first surmised the Horses Heads/ Were toward
Eternity. There is a sense that the journey has never ended and never will.
There is much eternity up ahead, for death is a realm without temporal-
spatial parameters.

The truth is that life is short and death is long. Perhaps in this sobering truth
one may find that Dickinsons poem is as much about lifeabout how one
ought to redeem it from the banalas it is about death.

Death and Life After Death

As can be seen in her other poems exploring death and dyinge. g., "I heard
a Fly buzz"Dickinson rarely speculates on life after death. "Because I could
not stop for Death" is unique in her canon in that a kind of afterlife appears
as a journey of centuries, but as she does in other death-related poems,
Dickinson gets to the point of death but does not take a step farther. The
influence of the Transcendentalistsand her own view of God and Nature
may have made a conventional conception of life after death impossible for
Dickinson to articulate.

"Because I Could Not Stop for Death" Literary


Elements
DESCRIPTION EXAMPLE

Giving human-like characteristics to non- "DeathHe kindly stopped for


Personificatio
human objects or abstract ideas me - " Making Death seem like a
n person, stopping to pick her up.

Repetition of consonant sounds at the "Dews & Drew, Gossamer &


Alliteration
beginnings of words in a sentence or line Gown, Tippet & Tulle"

Words at the end of a line that rhyme with "me & Immortality
End Rhyme
words at the end of other lines.

An implied comparison between two In the poem, Dickinson states


things that they pass the Setting Sun.
Metaphor This is a common symbol to
describe the end of a persons
life.

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity,
students will identify themes and symbols from the poem, and support their choices with
details from the text.
As a classroom activity, students can track the rich thematic and symbolic writing Dickinson
uses in her poetry. In the example storyboard below, the creator has focused on the theme
of Mortality vs. Immortality in the poem.

Mortality vs. Immortality


Each line of the poem contains aspects of both life and death. Because of the repetition of
these ideas using word choice, tone, and attitude, it is clear that this is the major theme of
the poem.
Evidence of Mortality and Immortality are seen throughout the poem. The speaker's entire
outlook on death and the mention of Immortality in the first stanza lead to the idea that she
believes in an afterlife. Life after death is a sort of immortality, though not in the sense many
might desire. In the last stanza, she uses the word Eternity to describe what she has just
come to understand. She remains calm and has a ponderous tone as she recalls the ride
she just took after realizing that she is actually deceased.
"Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

Because I Could Not Stop for Death might imply that the
T TITLE narrator cheated death in some way.

The poem begins by personifying death as a person in a


PARAPHRASE carriage, who picks up the narrator as a passenger. As they
ride around peacefully, they see many things: children
P playing, fields of grain, and finally the head stone of the
narrator. Here, she realizes that it has been centuries since
she died. However, it only felt like a few hours.

Going beyond the literal meaning, Dickinson almost seems


C CONNOTATION content with death.

Using words like kindly, leisure, passed, riding,


A ATTITUDE/TONE slowly, and civility suggests an attitude of comfort and
peace.

A shift occurs in stanza six, in the last four lines. Since


SHIFTS then- tis Centuries and yet/ Feels shorter than the Day/ I
first surmised the Horses Heads/ Were toward Eternity.
S The previous attitude that seemed peaceful changes to an
enlightenment that is startling. The speaker comes to the
realization that the ride has been centuries and not hours.

After reading the poem, my interpretation of the title was


TITLE incorrect. The speaker was unable to cheat death. No
T matter what, when it is your time, it will come
unexpectedly. No one is prepared, just as the speaker was
not prepared.
The theme that 'Death is Eternity' is evident as the speaker
T THEME realizes how far death goes as there is no concept of time.