In “Because I Could not Stop for Death,” what attributes does Dickinson grant to death? Why is immortality going along for the ride?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this poem, Death is portrayed as a lover.  Death is a man who is really quite nice.  He is very kind and civil to the speaker in the poem.  So Death does not seem to be portrayed as a very scary thing.

Immortality is along for the ride partly because in those days any woman going riding with a man would need to have a chaperone along to keep things decent.  Immortality in particular is chosen for this role because Dickinson sees these two things as going together.  In dying we are born to eternal life, she seems to be saying.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the poem "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" by Emily Dickinson, the poet suggests several character traits for Death. Although she suggests that he is polite, civil, courteous and 'kind' there is also a darker tone where he is more threatening and intimidating. She suggests that just because she ,like many of us, will never feel ready for death, having much more to achieve before giving up life, death will still come. he is persevering and assertive even if that is in a quiet way. Even though he allows her to see happy images and histories for the last time, he does not stop the carriage which has become like a cortege, but has it drive on relentlessly towards her end. Polite or no, Death ignores her feelings.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Dickenson personifies death when she speaks of him as a person doing tasks in the poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death."  Death is quite chivalrous towards the lady a he opens he door for her and waits for her to come.

Death is very civil and goes through the town slowly so that the woman could take in the last sites of her life before she and death ravel on into immortality.  He takes the passenger through phases in her life as they pass the school yard and the fields and see the setting sun which is the setting of her life.

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