In Emily Dickinson's poem "Because I could not stop for Death," what is the speaker's attitude?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Emily Dickinson's poem titled "Because I could not stop for Death," we can see a general attitude of acceptance of the inevitability of death, yet the speaker also shows a natural dislike of death due to its coldness and its permanence.

One element in the poem that best expresses the speaker's attitude of acceptance is imagery. Some of the imagery is very peaceful and even pretty, painting a peaceful, accepting tone. Some examples of peaceful, pretty imagery include "where Children strove / At Recess" and "Fields of Gazing Grain." Both of those images sooth the reader by conjuring up happy, peaceful images, helping to portray a peaceful accepting attitude.

Imagery also serves to paint the speaker's more glum, reserved attitude towards death, such as "The Dews drew quivering and chill." Since this image paints the speaker as being cold and shivering, we can clearly see the speaker thinking of death as a cold and dislikable element. Also, the final diction choice of the word "Eternity" helps us see the speaker's forlorn attitude towards death because the speaker realizes death is an infinite element.

All in all, the speaker accepts that death is inevitable but also sees it as being a very depressing element.

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