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Close reading assignment - Term Paper Example

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Name Surname Subject Date This paper presents close reading of the first stanza of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. Specifically, it examines details and facts about the following lines: “Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me/The Carriage held but just Ourselves/and Immortality”…
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Close reading assignment
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Download file to see previous pages To begin with, let us look into the impressions created by the use of vocabulary and diction in the stanza. From the very first word one is likely to notice is Death. It is particularly vivid due to its capitalization and unexpectedness – indeed, few poems start immediately with death. Another grasping thing is that Death is humanized in the poem: it is He. This creates an impression that there is a woman (the speaker herself) and a gentleman who in a courteous manner “stops for her” and invites her to have a pleasant ride in a carriage. The pleasantry of the ride is evident given a particularly desirable element in the trip: Death and the speaker are accompanied by Immortality. This sounds as if there were one more pleasant and gallant companion – someone named Immortality. Thus, the two most striking things about this stanza is Death and He naturally complement each other. Death is a name of a gentleman and He is used to refer to him. The third striking thing – Immortality – by its denotation contradicts Death. It means “no death”, in fact. Unlike death, immortality has a positive connotation and may be associated with such notions as paradise, eternal life, and blissfulness. The fact that it befriends Death and accompanies him enhances the positive feeling about the latter and gives it a positive connotation. On a deeper level, the vocabulary is fairly simple and even somewhat plain. Despite the fact that the poem was written in the 19th century, the words used in the poem’s first stanza would be familiar virtually to anyone today. At the same time, the choice of vocabulary in the first stanza is not accidental: it immediately introduces the reader to the rest of the poem. Namely, in Line 1: Because I could not stop for Death – Dickinson immediately introduces death and lets us know that the poem will be about death. While the use of “because” is not a typical way to begin a poem, or start a sentence in fiction/literary prose or colloquial conversation, the choice of this word is deliberate here. Use of “because” creates a feeling that a speaker provides a kind of explanation to the question that has been asked or to the future argument that will be discussed in the poem. The use of “because” suggests that the speaker engages the audience into accompanying him in an active and lively manner. The use of the expression “could not stop for death” expresses the idea that the poem’s speaker actually did not have a chance to choose when she would die. At its simplest, this phrase may mean that no one can ever know when he or she will die. Death capitalized means attribution of human nature to a non-human and abstract phenomenon – death. Further, the choice of words in Line 2 implies the following important things: death is he (in other words, a man or a gentleman), and what he does he does “kindly” (this is important for creating the overall mood of the poem, since it actually prevents fear in those who are reading the poem). Next, Lines 3-4 introduce one more actor in the poem – Immortality. Capitalization of “Immortality” may mean that Immortality is someone third that accompanies the speaker and Death. It may also mean that this word is particularly important, so not necessarily a humanized object. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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