What Is The Meaning Of Because I Could Not Stop For Death

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One of the most famous poems ever written is Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death. Written around 1862, Because I Could Not Stop For Death is considered Emily Dickinson’s best work. The obvious meaning of the poem would be the journey to death from the perspective of the afterlife. Death is personified as a kind gentleman who takes the narrator in a carriage to her grave. The poem is being narrated from the afterlife seeing that the narrator is reflecting on the event that brought her to where she is now. However, Because I Could Not Stop For Death is ambiguous in it’s meaning. One way that the poem could be interpreted is a metaphor for marriage. When one gets married, especially for a female, it is almost like death …show more content…
Many of the words that she includes in her poem have multiple meanings. In the first stanza, the narrator says that the carriage that she is travelling in is holding her, Death, and Immortality. Immortality and Death are capitalized because they are names. Immortality is defined as living forever or an eternal life. The narrator could have included the word immortality to relate to multiple aspects of marriage. In the vows of a marriage, it is said that your love and marriage is immortal and should never end. It could also be interpreted to be the name of a document, such as a marriage license. This would explain also why “Immortality” is capitalized because it is the name of a document. Death is capitalized because it is the name of her husband. Death is a psychonym because her husband represents her death. Although Dickinson capitalized many of her nouns in what seems like a random pattern, it was done because of her German background. In conclusion, Dickinson disguised these words to make the underlying meaning …show more content…
Two of the most important words used are labor and leisure. “And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility” (Lines 6-8). Labor has multiple meanings that could relate to marriage. First, labor is what women go through when they are giving birth, something that only happens after someone is married. Secondly, labor is hard work that one does. This could be mental or physical. The narrator used this word to explain how marriage is going to be hard work whether it is the children she will have or the problems that marriages typically have. She next uses the word leisure. Leisure is defined as free time. For married women of the time, leisure is rare because of the demands of the house and family. The narrator says that she puts away her leisure to be able to help her husband and family with stuff that they need. She will no longer have that free time that she had before she was married. The last key word from the passage above is civility. Civility is defined as formal politeness and courteous in behavior. The narrator used this word to say that if Death is being so polite and respectful to her, she should put away her fears and other thoughts of labor and leisure for his sake. Cassell’s Household Guide, a book about the household during the Victorian period, says “The great majority of persons consider marriage a religious as well as a social contract” (Cassell). This

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