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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What is an example of a simile in Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death"?

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Abbey Hayes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dickinson's iconic poem about death as a suitor collecting her in a chariot is full of personification and alliteration, but it lacks any examples of simile. A simile is a comparison that uses the words "like" or "as." For instance, "that house is as large as a mansion," or "this food tastes like heaven."

As you will notice when reading "Because I could not stop for Death," there are no examples of comparisons using "like" or "as." The closest any lines comes to a simile is the following:

"We paused before a House that seemed/ A Swelling of the Ground -"

The word "seemed" comes very close to the meaning to the word "like," and the  imagery compares a grave to a home. If one were pressed to argue that the poem contains a simile, this would be the best example. Still, as you can see, it lacks the telltale "like" or "as" that most people associate with a simile.

Another example of what one might term a "half-simile" comes in the final stanza, with the line:

"Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yet Feels shorter than the Day"

Again, neither the word "like" or "as" is present, but the world "feels" conveys a similar meaning, and the comparison stands: the centuries that the narrator has been dead feel shorter than a single day.

 

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