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10/25/2018

Emily Dickinson's treatment of Death

      One of the major themes that recur in Emily Dickinson's nearly 1800 poems is death. She was brought up in a Christian family that injected orthodox Calvinistic belief in her psyche quite early in her childhood.  Later in her life, she  lived in seclusion in quest of spiritual perfection. All these resulted in her obsession with death. “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of her many poems that reveal her preoccupation with death. In this poem the treatment of death is unusual in the sense she treats him as an endearing bridegroom who leads her first to a grave, and then to eternity.        The poem opens dramatically with the speaker's confession that she was busy with her daily labour and leisure of life when Death, along with Immortality, came in a carriage to pick her up. The journey started and their carriage moved along slowly. Death did not show any hurriedness and behaved very courteously. She felt so comfortable with him that she left her daily chores:                             And I had put away                             My labor and my leisure too,                             For His Civility_                    In Death's enjoyable company their carriage  passed school children, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun. After the sunset she felt quavering chill because she wore only a very thin gown. Finally, they reached a grave described as a house. The journey still continued towards eternity.       To understand Emily Dickinson's treatment of death the symbols used in the poem are to be analysed. In the third stanza, the three passengers on the horse-drawn carriage passed the school children who symbolize childhood. The  “Gazing Grains” suggest midlife and the “Setting Sun” suggests dying of the speaker. The poet makes it clear that death was present in childhood, in midlife and in old age till the end of life of the speaker. So, the carriage is a hearse that carries a dead body to grave. The  “only Gossamer, my Gown” is the shroud, a piece of fine cloth with which a dead body is wrapped. Death remain with her before she died and accompanied her to eternity passing through grave. Death was always with her     in life and in afterlife. She imagined that she was wedded to death, the shroud was her bridal dress, the grave was their bridal house and the eternity was their permanent residence.         Therefore, if the speaker is identified with Emily Dickinson, there is no doubt that she was obsessed with death. In. “Because I could not stop for Death”, as in many of her other death-poems, she treated death as a dear one. Unlike Donne's challenge to Death,  “Death, be not proud”, she finds death as an endearing being.


   One of the major themes that recur in Emily Dickinson's nearly 1800 poems is death. She was brought up in a Christian family that injected orthodox Calvinistic belief in her psyche quite early in her childhood.  Later in her life, she  lived in seclusion in quest of spiritual perfection. All these resulted in her obsession with death. “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of her many poems that reveal her preoccupation with death. In this poem the treatment of death is unusual in the sense she treats him as an endearing bridegroom who leads her first to a grave, and then to eternity.
      The poem opens dramatically with the speaker's confession that she was busy with her daily labour and leisure of life when Death, along with Immortality, came in a carriage to pick her up. The journey started and their carriage moved along slowly. Death did not show any hurriedness and behaved very courteously. She felt so comfortable with him that she left her daily chores:
                           And I had put away
                           My labor and my leisure too,
                           For His Civility_
                  In Death's enjoyable company their carriage  passed school children, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun. After the sunset she felt quavering chill because she wore only a very thin gown. Finally, they reached a grave described as a house. The journey still continued towards eternity.
     To understand Emily Dickinson's treatment of death the symbols used in the poem are to be analysed. In the third stanza, the three passengers on the horse-drawn carriage passed the school children who symbolize childhood. The  “Gazing Grains” suggest midlife and the “Setting Sun” suggests dying of the speaker. The poet makes it clear that death was present in childhood, in midlife and in old age till the end of life of the speaker. So, the carriage is a hearse that carries a dead body to grave. The  “only Gossamer, my Gown” is the shroud, a piece of fine cloth with which a dead body is wrapped. Death remain with her before she died and accompanied her to eternity passing through grave. Death was always with her     in life and in afterlife. She imagined that she was wedded to death, the shroud was her bridal dress, the grave was their bridal house and the eternity was their permanent residence.
       Therefore, if the speaker is identified with Emily Dickinson, there is no doubt that she was obsessed with death. In. “Because I could not stop for Death”, as in many of her other death-poems, she treated death as a dear one. Unlike Donne's challenge to Death,  “Death, be not proud”, she finds death as an endearing being.

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