“Thanatopsis” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” compare contrast essay
“Thanatopsis” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” are both American poems which were written during the American Romanic period. “Thanatopsis” was written by William Cullen Bryant, who grew up in Cummington, Massachusetts in the late 1700s and early 1800s. “Thanatopsis” was written in the early 1800s. “Because I Could not Stop for Death” was written by Emily Dickinson, a recluse who lived in Amherst, Massachusetts. Only twelve of her poems were published in her lifetime; however, after her death, there were many others published. Emily Dickinson and William Cullen Bryant both wrote poems during the romantic period in America to talk about their viewpoints of death. While the two poems are alike in their viewpoint of death, they are different in their portrayal of the afterlife, the structures of the poems, the way the author chose to personify death, and the points of view.
“Thanatopsis” and “Because I could not Stop for Death” are similar in that they both talk about death, and see it as part of the natural cycle of life, by stating, “all that breathe will share thy destiny.” (lines 60-61) They both have a calm, soothing tone, and use euphemisms for the grave. Dickinson makes a comparison to a house, the purpose of this is to imply that your grave is your final residence. “We paused before a house that seemed a swelling of the ground; the roof was scarcely visible, the cornice but a mound.” (lines 17-20, Because I could not Stop for Death.) They also personify immortality and nature, and make death appear less threatening through the two of these. Neither of the two poems talk of fighting death, just accepting it. The two poems talk about death in similar contexts.
While they’re similar in their view of death, their view of the afterlife is different. In “Thanatopsis,” the afterlife is portrayed as a situation where the individuality of the deceased is relinquished, their...
Cited: Project, The American Poetry & Literacy. 101 Great American Poems. Dover, 1998.
Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982
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