November 30, 2006
Death As Life
Life will end, of that fact there is no doubt. Death, or the end of life approaches the living in various disguises. The acceptance of death's intention also varies among individuals. In "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" (Dickinson, Emily. [c. 1862]) for example, death is perceived as a kind carriage driver and it's intentions are so well disguised that the speaker does not even realize she has died. The intention of this paper is to express the belief that how life is lived is how Death will introduce itself at the end.
To further expand on afore mentioned Dickinson poem, the first and second lines, "Because I could not stop for Death-/ He kindly stopped for me-", shows the reader that the speaker enjoyed her life and was not ready to go. These lines also show that the speaker was probably used to being treated with kindness and respect, thus her perception of Death being kind and respectful. The poem tells the reader that the speaker was dead for many years before she realized she was, "Since then-tis Centuries-and yet/ Feels shorter than the Day/ I first surmised the Horses' Heads/ Were toward Eternity-", obviously meaning that Death made the speaker's transition into eternity as enjoyable as her life had been. The speaker in "Lady Lazarus" (Plath, Sylvia. ) continually tricked Death, thus deceiving herself with the idea that Death would never win. Jean-Paul Sartre believed it is our existence that precedes our essence, that by our action, we define what we become. (qtd. Boardman, Victoria.) The idea that our actions define what we become is certainly relevant in the way the speaker in "Lady Lazarus" is teasing Death. In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker arrogantly announces, "I have done it again. / One year in every ten/ I manage it--". (Lady Lazarus; Plath, S.) She is boasting her ability to cheat Death by rising again from an attempted suicide. Her first encounter with near-death...
Cited: Hannaford, Michael. Introduction to Literature. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2006
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