What Is The Theme Of Death In Because I Could Not Stop For Death

1296 Words 6 Pages
Death is a frequently explored theme in poetry. Despite the prevalence of this theme, each poet has their own distinct viewpoint about it and portray it in such a way that reflects their beliefs. These differences are both in attitude towards death as well as the point of view of the speaker. Some authors take on an optimistic portrayal of death whereas others use a pessimistic perspective. Point of view can be either through the eyes of someone who has died or someone who has lost a loved one. The best portrayal an author can take, however, is a grounded and realistic one. Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for Death” (1863) takes on an optimistic portrayal of death through the eyes of someone who has died. This is a contrast …show more content…
This poem is written through the eyes of someone who has attempted to commit suicide. Plath uses Nazi imagery at the beginning of the poem, conjuring up disturbing images. She compared her skin to “a Nazi lampshade” and writes, “My right foot/ A paperweight” (Plath 1357). The use of these metaphors related to the Holocaust makes this text especially sinister and twisted. Plath also does not describe death itself in a sugarcoated or pleasing way. She writes, “They had to call and call/ And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls” (Dickinson 1358). Writing about worms being picked off from someone in a poem about suicide and death is unsettling and connotes a negative portrayal of death. Plath then compares death, which has so far been described as horrible, to art, which is something many see as beautiful. She writes, “Dying is an art” (Plath 1358). Immediately after describing death as art, Plath goes back to using unpleasant images. She writes, “I do it so it feels like hell/ I do it so it feels real” (Plath 1358). Saying true death feels like hell does not give many people the impression of an appealing experience. Despite the speaker’s possible belief of death being a positive thing, most readers will find the theme represented in a negative and unpleasant way. Plath takes on death in an overly negative way that is eerie and disturbing. This representation is arguably too …show more content…
Auden’s poem “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” (1936) also concerns the theme of death, but is told through the eyes of someone who has lost a loved one. The speaker is distraught and believes that the world has completely stopped because of this tragic death. Auden begins the poem with the line “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” (Auden 958). The different hands of the clock move as time passes. By continuing to allow the clock to work as it should, the speaker is acknowledging that time is still passing and life is still going on. This person’s death makes the speaker feel as if time has literally stopped and does not want any indication that life is still continuing for everyone, including them. The author writes, “He was my North, my South, my East and West/ My working week and my Sunday rest/ My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song” (Auden 959). The speaker clearly feels strongly for this man, and that he was everything to them, including their sense of direction and their purpose for living. The speaker also states, “I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong” (Auden 959). This person believes that their love for this person is immortal, but finds that without this man in their life, they feel empty inside with no love left whatsoever. The writer declares, “The stars are not wanted now: put out every one/ Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun/ Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood/ For nothing now can come to any good” (Auden

Related Documents