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Characterization for the poem "Because I could not stop for death"

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gksriharsha | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted January 9, 2012 at 5:49 PM via web

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Characterization for the poem "Because I could not stop for death"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 9, 2012 at 7:45 PM (Answer #1)

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In her disarming poem, "Because I could not stop for Death," Emily Dickinson's speaker describes herself as being so occupied that she cannot not stop for death.  He, however, "kindly stopped for me."  Thus, the speaker of the poem understands the inevitability of death's pursuit of her as a suitor

--He slowly drove--He knew no haste-

for which she is unprepared, Yet, although the unprepared speaker possesses "For only Gossamer, my Gown," she treats this ride to her graveside with a blithe tone that is at odds with the topic of this verse. As they pass the "Fields of Gazing Grain"--her life passes before her. She continues her progress until the driver stops before the grave described in the playful phrase, "A Swelling of the Ground--Once she is in the grave, the speaker mentions that it is Centuries since she "first surmised the Horses Heads/ Were toward Eternity."

An innocent in life, the speaker compares dying to an unexpected ride in a horse-drawn carriage that travels through the fields and emerges, continuing to a "House" that she soon will enter.

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crazynitin998 | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:03 AM (Answer #2)

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In Dickinson's poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," the narrator reminisces about the day Death came calling. Too busy to stop for Death, the narrator finds that Death has time to stop for her. Death is personified as a courtly beau:

Death appears personified in this poem as a courtly beau who gently insists that the speaker put aside both “labor” and “leisure.” He arrives in his carriage, having stopped for her because she could not have stopped for him, and he even submits to a chaperone, “Immortality,” for the length of their outing together.

No doubt, this outing is not one to fear. Death is personified as one who is welcomed to stop by. Death is as a gentleman caller. He stops by for a date. He is sensitive and wooing. There is no terror involved. They drive slowly around all the familiar sites. The journey is as one of leisure. It is a pleasant experience. Death is courteous:

In the second stanza, the reader learns that the journey was leisurely and that the speaker did not mind the interruption from her tasks because Death was courteous.

Truly, this visit is received without any fear. Death is kind. Death is civil:

 

Death is patient. Death is thoughtful. Death is a courteous gentleman. The speaker is impressed by Death's exceptional behavior. There is nothing somber about the tone:

Though the subject is death, this is not a somber rendering. On the contrary, Death is made analogous to a wooer in what emerges as essentially an allegory, with abstractions consistently personified. Impressed by Death’s thoughtfulness and patience, the speaker reciprocates by putting aside her work and free time

In Dickinson's poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," the narrator reminisces about the day Death came calling. Too busy to stop for Death, the narrator finds that Death has time to stop for her. Death is personified as a courtly beau:

Death appears personified in this poem as a courtly beau who gently insists that the speaker put aside both “labor” and “leisure.” He arrives in his carriage, having stopped for her because she could not have stopped for him, and he even submits to a chaperone, “Immortality,” for the length of their outing together.

No doubt, this outing is not one to fear. Death is personified as one who is welcomed to stop by. Death is as a gentleman caller. He stops by for a date. He is sensitive and wooing. There is no terror involved. They drive slowly around all the familiar sites. The journey is as one of leisure. It is a pleasant experience. Death is courteous:

In the second stanza, the reader learns that the journey was leisurely and that the speaker did not mind the interruption from her tasks because Death was courteous.

Truly, this visit is received without any fear. Death is kind. Death is civil:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

Death is patient. Death is thoughtful. Death is a courteous gentleman. The speaker is impressed by Death's exceptional behavior. There is nothing somber about the tone:

Though the subject is death, this is not a somber rendering. On the contrary, Death is made analogous to a wooer in what emerges as essentially an allegory, with abstractions consistently personified. Impressed by Death’s thoughtfulness and patience, the speaker reciprocates by putting aside her work and free time

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