How do the auditory effects help communicate the poem's main theme in "Because I could not stop for Death"?  How does the sound of the words add to the poem's mood?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The auditory effects of "Because I could not stop for Death" help to communicate the speaker's perception of death. The sound of the words help to enhance a mood in which death is a companion, a chaperon that constantly accompanies the individual.

The effects of the word choice in Dickinson's poem help to communicate a deeper understanding regarding Death.  The fact that Death "kindly stopped" for the speaker, that his driving style of the chariot "knew no haste," and his behavior was seen as representing "civility" all show death in a unique light. This is not the standard "grim reaper" with a scythe who cruelly takes people from their life. Rather, this perception of death is soothing because the words are calming. 

When Dickinson describes the journey that the speaker and Death share, it adds to the poem's thematic development.  Children playing during recess, "fields of grazing grain," and a setting sun reflect a beautiful nostalgia. There is a specific ache in the individual because these realities have passed. However, the companion-like nature of death eases such a pain in one's heart. The images and word choice help to transform people's understanding of death.

The sounds of the words add to the poem's emotional timbre.  They communicate death not as a cruel, avenging force that revels in denying life. Rather, death is a partner in travel.  He helps to transport individuals into another stage.  The tranquility of death helps to enhance a different thematic understanding.  Its standard harshness is supplanted with a soothing one. The sound of the words amplify this construction.

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