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Death Case

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Some say that the world will end in fire. Women live their lives dying a slow, smoldering sort of death. With her characteristic idiosyncrasies and theme of death, Emily Dickinson sharply comments on the relationship between a woman's typical role in society and her downfall. A major feature of the poem relies on the personification of Death as a courteous suitor who innocently offers the narrator a ride. At the end of the story, the narrator, presumably a woman, realizes with horror that her ride and therefore her relationship with Death will never end.

Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses free verse, with no recognizable pattern of rhyme or meter. She does, however, use a few distinguishing poetic techniques. Most of the lines begin with an unstressed syllable and are separated in iambs. Noticeably, the last line of each stanza is always short and to the point. This gives the poem a sense of finality and resignation. An interesting combination of alliteration appears in stanza 2 and 3. "School" and "strove", "recess" and ring", "gossamer" and "gown"- these patterns of two alliterations per line gives the poem a ringing chant-like feel.

The different stages of the carriage ride represent the different stages of a woman's life. In the beginning, the woman passively consents to the ride with death. The narrator notices that they "passed" different things. The school and children represent the woman's childhood innocence. They also pass the "fields of gazing grain", perhaps representing the fruits of life. The speaker mentions the setting sun, although it is uncertain whether or not the carriage passes it. The setting sun might mean the passing into the unknown or chasing after a faraway goal. Lastly, the speaker "paused" at what seems to be her tomb. However, the way she describes it is very peculiar- she attributes very domestic qualities to it. It's a "house", with decoration like a coffin and looks like it's pregnant from the way it rises out of the ground. The correlation between death and domesticity suggests that for the speaker, the latter represents a living death.

The speaker describes Death as a suitor who drives her around every walk of life. Perplexingly, the narrator uses words like "kindly" and "civility" for the unlikely comparison. The initial actions and generosity mask Death's true nature. In their relationship, it is obviously Death who holds power over the speaker. He decides when the carriage stops and the speed of the carriage. She "could not stop for Death", which signifies her powerlessness and lack of choice. The speaker mentions putting away her "labor" and her "leisure" for him. Therefore she neither has pain or pleasure in life. Her suitor effectively renders her into a living doll. Although the qualities of support and



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