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The Theme of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Works Essay

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Updated: Aug 11th, 2022

The theme of death in the work of Emily Dickinson has a special place. Dying appears in various guises, but it is so organic in poetry that it does not carry either ominous or desperate tones; it is natural, like life itself. Moreover, death in the poems of the poetess is often personified. In the poem Because I could not stop for Death, Dickinson states: “Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me” (Dickinson 1676). She personifies death in the guise of a gallant gentleman who invites a lady for a carriage ride. The date is ceremonious, but like any love game, it contains the possibility of dangerous unpredictability, from which even the presence of a third person – immortality accompanying the couple – does not guarantee. Their path lies through the warm and noisy bustle of life, through the cold immobility of a temporary shelter-grave, then through the centuries into eternity. In this poem, death is a good friend, a comforter with a pronounced masculine principle. Thus, this poem examines in detail the process of reconciliation with death and how it is inevitable.

The poetess believed that a person, having died, continues to live in some other world, where everything is calm and peaceful. The inevitable end of life is evidence of the irreversible and incomprehensible course of nature. Dickinson is not afraid of death, and takes it for granted and even intriguingly: “My life closed twice before its close; / It yet remains to see / If Immortality unveil / A third event to me” (Dickinson 1692). Although the poetess is sincerely worried about death, this is not something ugly and terrible for her. Therefore, death in Dickinson’s poetry is presented in a blissful and positive light without negative connotations.

Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. “Because I could not stop for Death.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th ed., edited by Robert S. Levine, Michael A. Elliott, and Sandra M. Gustafson, 2016, 1676.

Dickinson, Emily. “My life closed twice before its close.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 9th ed., edited by Robert S. Levine, Michael A. Elliott, and Sandra M. Gustafson, 2016, 1692.

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IvyPanda. "The Theme of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Works." August 11, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-theme-of-death-in-emily-dickinsons-works/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Theme of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Works." August 11, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-theme-of-death-in-emily-dickinsons-works/.

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