how do the excessive dashes fit with the idea of not being able to stop

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theyellowbookworm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily Dickinson utilizes excessive dashes in her poem "Because I could not stop for Death -" to illustrate a contrast between mortality and eternity. Dickinson writes, "We slowly drove - He knew no haste / And I had put away / My labor and my leisure too, / For His Civility" (ll.5-8). Here, Dickinson demonstrates the inevitability that death must reach us all; life is mortal. She uses enjambment throughout this poem, which means that there is no punctuation at the end of the line, to illustrate the distinction between the speaker's haste and Death's leisurely demeanor. Dickinson utilizes the excessive dashes to emphasize this enjambment and demonstrate that Death does not need to be rushed; unlike human life, Death is immortal and has no need for haste. The speaker, whose speech is marked by the dashes, cannot conceive Death's immortality and, therefore, continues her poem with a hurried acceleration.

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