What do you think about the view of death presented in "Because I could not stop for Death"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The view of death as presented in Dickinson's poem is one of reflection and calm.  I think it's very powerful how the poem recasts death not as some dark and brooding figure who stalks prey through fear, but rather receives death in an open and accepting manner.  I think it is a testimony to Dickinson's genius that she can take the element that strikes fear in the heart of most living beings and render a view that is not apprehensive about "the other," but rather seeks to understand and appropriate it into the scope of one's own subjectivity.  The opening lines of the poem which casts death in a "kindly" vein is unique, as it departs from a traditionalist notion of the end of mortality.  Throughout the poem, the idea of death as bringing to life the moments that make one passionate about living are also quite compelling. Descriptions of children playing at recess, fields of grain, as well as the natural beauty of the sunset are not immediate connotations of death, yet Dickinson has been able to create a picture of death as one that appreciates life.  This characterization and presentation of death is very unique in that it compels the reader to reflect on a topic that diverges from standard conception and opens the mind to receive the dawning of a new, yet compelling, image, "excellent and fair."

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