Emily Dickinson's Poetry on Death

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About this sample


Words: 497 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 497|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Emily Dickinson portrays death In vastly different ways in “I could not stop for death” and “I felt a funeral in my brain”. “Because I could not stop for death” is a happier, much lighter hearted portrayal, with the speaker entering deaths carriage and travelling until she is ready to accept her own demise. “I felt a funeral in my brain” is a much more morbid take on death, and documents the speakers thoughts well in their own casket. “I felt a funeral in my brain” and “Because I could not stop for death” show how people deal with the moment of their death, and their own mortality.

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“Because I could not stop for death” depicts Death as a carriage, or hearse driver. Death is introduced right away as the leading character and focus of the poem, performing a human action; stopping for someone on his way. Death is obviously not a real person, but in Dickinson's work he is personified as being courteous and kind to the speaker. The speaker goes on a journey with death, passing through places four times before pausing. The “We paused” ties the whole poem together through anaphora, making the reader feel the bond between the speaker and death. When they finally “Pause”, It is before “A house that seemed / A swelling in the ground” which represents a grave. The speaker has finally accepted her death and is ready to move on.

“I felt a funeral in my brain” has a much more grim outlook on death. The whole poem reads almost like a horrible interpretation of a church Hymm because of it’s rhyme scheme and strict adherence to quatrains. Depending on your level of sympathy with her, you could see the speaker as morbid and obsessed with death, or as just someone going through a traumatic experience against her will. Maybe she just has a terrible headache.When she says "those same Boots of lead, again," we get the sense that she has been through something like this before. She can't really decide whether she wants to be around people or not. She's not pleased with all the mourners walking on her at the beginning of the poem, but in the fourth stanza she associates solitude with being "wrecked." She hears church bells; “As all the Heavens were a Bell,And Being, but an Ear,” , but can’t respond to them in any way. She seems to have a knowledge of religion, but hates the idea of heavens. At the end the floor caves in “And then a Plank in Reason, broke, And I dropped down, and down” and she finally loses her thoughts, and is able to be at peace.

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Although both pieces of literature confront and explore death in different ways, they are both resolved with the speaker dying. Both “I felt a funeral in my brain” and “Because I could not stop for death” show how differently people react to dying.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Emily Dickinson’s Poetry on Death. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from
“Emily Dickinson’s Poetry on Death.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
Emily Dickinson’s Poetry on Death. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 May 2024].
Emily Dickinson’s Poetry on Death [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 May 18]. Available from:
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