Because I could Not Stop for Death values
“Because I Could Not Stop For Death” Emily Dickinson During the start of the realist movement, Emily Dickinson wrote “Because I could Not Stop for Death,” questioning the communal values of religion and eternity. The poem, at first, looks to be about the eternal afterlife, but with closer inspection of the language, (i. e. “Surmised” is a word of uncertainty) we find that she is actually not sure about the eternity of afterlife and all it entails. The 19th century was the beginning of a new era. Science and religion were beginning to intersect and to ome, clash.
Dickinson’s poem, in a way, is a direct comparison of this battle, as she is obviously struggling with idea of eternity and the traditional belief of the afterlife being heaven or hell. Dickinson uses realism in this poem by speaking of the reality of death, an event every living thing will experience, while using symbolism and personification. Death is personified as a gentleman who is gently taking her on a carriage ride. The first two lines, “Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me-“(Dickinson, Line -2) symbolizes that the narrator has died but not on her own terms.
She was not prepared for death, but Death “kindly’ stopped for her. Dickinson personifies death, but is talking about the actual event of dying. Unlike the common fear among society of death, this Journey is calm and peaceful: “He knew no haste” (Dickinson, Line 5) and “For His Civility’ (Dickinson Line 8) are phrases used to describe the gentle nature of death. On her Journey, she reflects the stages of her life. “We passed the School, where Children strove” (Dickinson,line 9) represents her childhood or youth.
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain” (Dickinson,line 1 1) represents the maturity of adulthood, and “We passed the Setting Sun” (Dickinson, line 12) represents the end. All of these events are common to everyone; childhood, adulthood, and death. Carol Frost writes, “There are no lectures and no overt theological speculations… ” . Hidden under the symbolism, lies only the process of dying. The poem questions the traditional values of religion and the beliefs that after death, comes eternity in a heavenly paradise.
She is not accompanied by angels, here is no light leading to eternity, or visions of God reaching out his hands to embrace ner returning soul. Her actual beliets are unclear, but sne was clearly not religious. “Emily Dickenson lived in a time defined by the struggle to reconcile traditional Christian beliefs with newly emerging scientific concepts, the most influential being Darwinism. Dickinson’s struggles with faith and doubt reflect her society’s diverse perceptions of God, nature, and humankind. ” (The Church). The scene as she comes closer to her destination is slowly getting dark and cold.
We passed the Setting Sun/Or rather-He passed US” and “The Dews drew quivering and chill” (Dickinson, lines 12-14) represent the leaving of the physical world and entering a dreary existence. At first, death was kind and now he’s lured her into the darkness. A common belief among religious people is that when one dies, they enter a euphoric afterlife. As she reflects on the day of her death, she says, “Since then-tis Centuries- and yet/Feels shorter than the day/’ first surmised the Horses’ Heads/Were toward Eternity-“(Dickinson, lines 21-24).
Dickinson gives no clear answer about her existence after death, but by the tone, she does not appear to be in a magical place. She also leaves the answer open to the reader’s imagination by saying the centuries seemed shorter than the day she assumed she was going towards eternity. The 19th century introduced the ideology that mankind’s creation had scientific explanations, and the beginning of the realist movement. These events mixed with Dickinson’s already formed skepticism, resulted in the creation of, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”.