Emily Dickinsons View of Death

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 184
  • Published: April 9, 2013
Read full document
Text Preview
Emily Dickinson’s odd lifestyle of reclusion had a profound effect on the way she viewed certain aspects of life. The author was said to be an introvert, and permitted very limited contact to a small group of trusted friends. Although she was a very private person, readers get an intimate look into her thoughts and opinions through her work. A large number of her poems discuss death in a light that almost seems inviting No doubt influenced by her odd lifestyle. Her attitude toward dying is light and unafraid. In her poems “Because I could not stop for Death" and "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died" she shows the end of her life in her physical body, and the beginning of an eternal existence in the afterlife. "Many of Emily Dickinson's Poems dramatize of consciousness."(Cunningham,1). Most of her poems discussed the continued life of the mind and thought after physicality.

While most poets and writers speak of death as something to fear and one of the darkest parts of our existence, Dickinson puts a lightness and comfortableness to the subject. She describes a carriage ride with death that seems relaxed and accepting. “[…] The Carriage held but just ourselves- And Immortality” (3). She feels no fear as she is driven to eternity, passing school yards and fields along the way. Death slowly relieves her of all worries as the sun sets. It seems as if Dickinson is communicating from beyond the grave, describing a life she had passed through many centuries ago when the horses guided her slowly away to her grave. Although her body has been buried in the ground for a very long time, her spirit or conscience lives on afterward into eternity. In contrast, in "I heard a Fly buzz when I died" the author has not been dead centuries but just moments. She describes her loved ones being around. The author states, "The eyes around-- had wrung them dry-- And Breaths were gathering firm [...](5-6)

The most common belief held at the time Dickinson wrote her poem on death was that once a person passed on into the afterlife, the mind and body would come to a final state of rest. She, however, felt that the mind would live on forever after the body passed through its existence in the physical world. She states “Since then—‘tis Centuries—and yet Feels shorter than the Day” […] (21-22). Time would somehow slow so that hundreds of years would pass and would merely have the appearance of a few days to the conscious mind. Although the view is slightly more widely accepted today, it is still not considered conventional. Most people look towards a certain religion to bring them peace with the afterlife or death. She chooses only to believe in a spiritual or immaterial being after passing through the physical world. Dickinson’s progressive attitude toward death allowed her poems to gain more popularity after her own surmise. "To wit, translate the persona's not stopping for death into an imaginative perception of the nonreality of death. "Death is death only to those who live within the time-bound finite world outside of the imaginative infinity of consciousness"(Spring85). In "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died" Dickinson takes a more religious view on death. Stating " For that last onset-- when the King Be witnessed-- in the Room"(7-8).

While the author has a mostly warm outlook on death, she still recognizes its coldness and desolation. […] “The Dews drew quivering and chill - For only Gossamer, my Gown - My Tippet- only Tulle” (14-16). She briefly speaks of her gown being made of cheap, thin material. She also describes “The Dews Drew quivering and chill” […] (14). She is describing the chill she received as she was going to her new home in the dark, cold ground. These depictions make the reader feel the cold finality of death before she shares of the centuries that have passed since that fateful day. When telling of passing the school and the fields of grain, Dickinson’s word choice implies that these things are part of the monotony...
tracking img