Because I could not stop for Death— Questions and Answers
by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death— book cover
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How is death portrayed in Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"? What is the speaker's attitude toward dying, and what words and devices create this tone? What symbolism do you see in the poem?

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(Educators are only supposed to answer one question per posting, so I will tackle your first question, and you can repost the others separately if you like.)

In this poem, Death is portrayed as a suitor, someone who is courting the speaker. She says that Death "kindly" stopped to pick her up in his carriage, like a young man wooing a young woman. He drives "slowly" and doesn't seem to be in any hurry, as though he enjoys spending time with her, and he behaves with "Civility"; it seems, then, that he is very polite and even gallant toward her. Death begins to seem more and more like a lover. The speaker and Death drive past a school and watch the children playing (not in a creepy way), they pass lovely and scenic fields, and they even watch the sun set together from the carriage. Night begins to fall, and she begins to grow cold, and so Death takes her to a "House" where she can be more comfortable. She has, since then, passed the time quite satisfactorily, and it feels to her as though she's only been there a very short time. Thus, Death is personified as a suitor, someone who wishes to woo the narrator.

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