How do Emily Dickinson's poems portray humankind's predicament in a world of anguish and mortality?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickinson's poems depict the human predicament of struggling to make peace and amends with an existence driven by pain and the finality of death.  In her poems, Dickinson creates characters or protagonists who are willing to understand the reality of death and navigate through the agony of being human.  In her poem, "I'm Nobody, Who are You," Dickinson speaks to the idea of anguish within life.  She creates an alternative to the numbing loneliness of social ostracizing by seeking to create solidarity and bonds with another who has also been relegated to the peripheral of the social order.  This solidarity or bond is critical to resolving the very idea of being marginalized and the anguish it causes.  At the same time, the limits of human existence in the face of death is reconfigured in "Because I could not stop for death."  In this poem, the vision of death and mortality is not presented in a menacing or threatening manner, but rather one of a comforting companion that allows reverie and understanding in the face of life ending.