woman in repose floating through the air surrounded by ghosts

Because I could not stop for Death—

by Emily Dickinson

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Why doesn't the speaker fear death in Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death—"?

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The speaker in Emily Dickinson's poem, Because I Could Not Stop for Death, does not fear death for a couple reasons.

First, the fact that "He (Death) kindly stopped for me" sets up the fact that Death seems to be accommodating. Given that there are times where life simply happens too fast to be concerned with certain things, like death, the fact that Death stopped for the speaker could speak to the fact that the speaker feels accommodated by Death.

Second, in the second stanza, the speaker states her (assumptive based upon Dickinson's gender) ease with death.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We, as humans, feel relaxed by those who put us at ease. Death most certainly puts the speaker at ease based upon the fact that she "put away" her labor and leisure in order to match "his" civility.

Lastly, the fact that the carriage passes the children at the school could have put the speaker at ease as well. If the carriage would have stopped at the school, the speaker's anxiety level most certainly would have risen. The fact that the carriage simply left the innocent alone, again, puts the speaker at ease.

Based upon these reasons, it seems that the speaker does not need to fear Death. Death seems to be in no hurry and illustrates that fact by the pace of the poem and the carriage.

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In Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," by what means is death presented as pleasant rather than terrifying? 

Emily Dickinson uses personification and, in giving Death human qualities, she makes death seem pleasant and courteous. Death is so kind that he takes time to stop for her, since she was too involved to take time indulging the idea of dying. Death "kindly stopped for me" and took her on an extended journey in his carriage.

Furthermore, Death was in no rush, "He knew no haste," and so they took a slow journey. The speaker put aside her labor and her leisure - she did this in appreciation of Death's "civility."

On this journey, Death allows the speaker to witness that which she deems most pleasant, such as a school where children are playing during recess. They pass fields filled with growing grain and witness the sunset. With the sun gone, the speaker feels the chill of dying - also because she is wearing light clothes, since, one can infer, she was not entirely ready for this journey.

Death then takes her to her grave, "a House" that would become a permanent resting place for her body. Her soul, however, would live for eternity for she remembers that, as they were traveling, the horses were heading towards Eternity, implying that she has already passed on and is reflecting on what happened to her centuries before, even though it felt "shorter than a day."

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