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In 'Because I coud not stop for Death,' how is death characterised?

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wyoflash22 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 12, 2013 at 6:04 AM via web

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In 'Because I coud not stop for Death,' how is death characterised?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 12, 2013 at 10:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Death is characterised in a positive way in this poem, personified a kindly gentleman, perhaps even a suitor of the speaker, who comes to call on her in his carriage with Immortality as chaperon. There is absolutely none of the fear that is usually associated with the coming of death; instead he leads the speaker gently away, past old familiar sights and landmarks, to her eternal resting place.

However, although Death does not appear frightening in any way, we should note that he is, all the same, a compelling caller who is not to be denied. The speaker remarks that:

I had put away

My labour, and my leisure too,

For His Civility- (6-8)

In other words, Death is so gently persuasive that the speaker simply cannot resist him; she 'puts away' everything else in order to be with him. She does not even attempt to challenge his quietly irresistible power. 


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