What is the connection between "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and the life of Emily Dickinson?Particularly the part of her life that Emily Dickinson used as a basis of the poem "Because I...

What is the connection between "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and the life of Emily Dickinson?

Particularly the part of her life that Emily Dickinson used as a basis of the poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death."

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is well known that Emily Dickinson lived the reclusive life of a spinster.  Aside from the fact that she never married, she was said to have been socially quiet, shy, close to her family, and religious (though not devoutly Calvanist, despite pressure to be so).  She was not unfamiliar with death, as she experienced the death of 33 of her friends and acquaintences within a three year time frame.  She herself suffered from poor health and died at the age of 55.

The overriding theme of this poem is the gracious acceptance of death.  Death is personified as a lover or gentleman caller, coming to pick up the narrator in a carriage.  Immortality is also inside.  Perhaps this is ironic given that the author likely never entertained any gentleman callers or perhaps it shows a deeper longing inside Dickinson's heart.  It cannot be ignored however, that the poem displays a certain air of acceptance and respect for fate.  It points to her experience with death, her lack of fear of it, and her faith in an afterlife.

It is possible too that this poem shows the author's sense of ambition.  "Because I could not stop for death," suggests that the narrator's life was busy.  Too busy to date.  Too busy to die.  Perhaps Emily Dickinson did not wish to be classified as a social misfit or a sickly woman who was simply waiting to die.  Perhaps she wanted to portray both of these attitudes as a way to highlight her literary work over anything else about her.

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