Emily view of death to a passive gentle

Dickinson is a poet of the 18th Century with her works being focused
on the nature of immortality and death. She writes, “Because I could not stop
for Death” as well as “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” around the
theme of death to personify the acceptance of a tragedy. There is an evident
intensity in the work of Dickinson that echo her curiosity and enthusiasm of
death and the mortal experience. In Emily Dickinson’s works, she uses
Romanticism and imagery to transforms the concept of inevitable death from
being a fearsome experience to a calm and enduring experience that can take a
person to pleasant eternity. This paper will focus on the ways Dickinson uses
imagery of internal emotions, nature, inanimate objects and animal to personify
the acceptance of death.

Dickinson uses internal emotions aspect
of imagery to give death a feeling of comfort. “Because I could not stop for
Death” is a poem of a women who foresees everlasting life and has found that
life in death. Dickinson ironically relates death to peace in the poem where
only after her death; she is able to find tranquility. Dickinson represents the
woman’s’ death by using the imagery of a setting sun as she says: “We passed
the setting sun”, just as if the day comes to and end with the setting sun, so
does her life. The poem indicates how the woman was comfortable with death and
the Afterlife representing acceptance of death. Her comfort with death can be
recognized with the trust the character has with death as she gave up her
“labors and leisure” insinuating her giving up work and joys of life to
accept death (Ashraf, 2015). Acceptance has been intensified with an
expectation that there will be pleasure and reward from enduring the death
experience. The end of “Because I could not stop for Death” directly conveys to
this acceptance when the journey concludes with eternity of peace. Death has also
been seen as a pleasant image with the referral to it being in the form of a
gentleman suitor, who is taking the woman on a ride in his horse-drawn
carriage. Dickinson aims to alter the stereotypical view of death to a passive
gentle character that is kind and not a cruel concept simply taking life away
from an individual (Ottlinger, 2012, p. 49-50). Furthermore, Dickinson ends the
poem with: “I first surmised the Horses’ Heads, Were toward Eternity”,
signifying that she came to realization that she was heading into the direction
of eternity. Eternity to her does not mean the end but the beginning of the
life after and thereby allowing her to effortlessly accept her death. Particular
word choice such as referring to death waiting ‘kindly’ shows the pleasant
image Dickinson has created for death in her poems. Moreover, the ironic use
of  “immortality” in a poem focused of
the mortal death experience can denote that Dickinson does not see death as the
end but just a stepping-stone into an eternal Afterlife. Dickinson brings
positive aspects to death to romanticize death by referencing the experience to
a journey and a path to be discovered leading towards salvation.  In “Because I could not stop for Death”, the
last stanza reflect on Dickinson’s internal emotion where she creates a link
between immortality and eternity to signify that one is not mortal and even
death can be immortal by implying the life after death. Similar to the gentleman suitor in “Because
I could not stop for Death”, the personification of death to a pleasant can be
seen in “I heard a Fly buzz
– when I died” with death being brought on by a King epitomizing a godly figure
that has come to take the life away. The comfort of death can also be detected
in aspects of the journey in “Because I could not stop for Death” where
realistic expectations would insinuate a scary journey from the pain of death
to the grave or some supernatural dimension. However, Dickinson describes the
journey to be an easy one where they simply pass schoolyards and grain fields.

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The speed on travel can also represent comfort as the narrator shapes the
journey to be going at a relaxed pace where “We slowly drove – He knew no haste”.

Despite how desolate death can actually be, Dickinson maintains a tone of
optimism in her references of death as seen “After Great Pain A Formal Feeling
Comes” where even though death has caused pain, by letting go she has achieved
a sense of tranquility. This gives depth to the Romanticism and internal emotions
imagery in Dickinson poems that uphold a tone of positivity when discussing the
grim aspects of life such as death and lose of a loved one. Another
characteristic of internal emotions is signified in the celebration of simple
life, which Dickinson portrays in “Because I could not stop for Death” by
unfolding the three stages of the human life beginning with childhood seen
through the children playing at the followed by the prime of life being
exemplified by the fertile ‘Gazing Grain’ to suggest cultivating and work an
individual does to earn a living leading to our decline represented by the
setting sun (Alqaryouti & Sadeq, 2017). In “I heard a Fly buzz – when I
died”, Dickinson uses imagery of internal emotions to describe the events
whilst in her new form after death where relatives who passed before her are
seen to tearless eyes due to the peace of mind they have achieved after death. The
tone reflected in the works of “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” is identified
to be calm and even flat as Dickinson comes to peace with the concept of death
and accepts it as a natural part of life. A sense of calmness can mirror the
internal emotions of Dickinson’s’ acceptance of death and personification of
death to bring tranquility. The coherent serene tone depicted by Dickinson also
reflects on her internal emotion that the encounter with death is
painless.   Poems, ” Because I could not stop for Death”
and “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” both showcase the calm and soft tone
with the word choice such as “We slowly drove – He knew no haste”
describes the disposition in the first poem; similarly the subsequent refers to
“the Stillness in the Room.”

            Poems by Emily Dickinson use imagery
of the supernatural combined with elements of nature to depict the true
characteristics of Romanticism to personify the concept of death. Firstly, the
personification of Death by creating a supernatural personality of it to be an
actual being coming to her illustrates the imaginative literacy Dickinson
stands for. In “Because I could not stop for Death”, Dickinson also uses heavy
symbolism of nature; ” We passed the fields of glazing sun, We passed the
setting sun, The dews drew quivering and chill” to epitomize death in a
romantic way. Her use of word choice with the nature facets also creates a
sensory experience with the reference of “dews” to represent how death could
make the body grow cold building on the romanticism of the poem. Another aspect
of nature is seen in “After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes”; Dickinson uses
vivid imagery to symbolize the literal and figurative coldness that accompanies
death. She elicits emotions in the reader using imagery in relation to the
nature with reference to the snow. Dickinson also uses references to nature in
“I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” with a simile to compare the air in the room
with the air amidst a storm. A literal image is created where the air is wet
and heavy in reference to the tears filling a room when a loved one dies. There
is a certain stillness in the air to create a peaceful atmosphere that isn’t
terrifying but serene and calm like after rain therefore personifying death. In
“Success is counted sweetest” there is relationship created between success and
nectar but instead of using the sweet taste of nectar as a reference, Dickinson
applies synesthesia with the word choice ‘comprehend’ thereby using the brain
to understand the sweetness of nectar and success as well. This relationship is
a parallelism of Dickinson’s’ views that death and peacefulness can go together
based on how we comprehend the notion. Similarly in the same poem she
articulates, “Water is taught by thirst” which signifies realization of the
importance of water by deprivation therefore the can be derived to how
deprivation of life can lead to serenity instead of anguish.    

Evidence of animal imagery can be found
in “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” where Dickinson talks about the encounter
with a snake in a grass field using vivid imagery such as the “Boggy Acre ” and
“A Floor too cool for Corn”. The snake being a deadly predator is personified
as a human figure by being called a ‘fellow’ who ‘rides’ thereby romanticizing
the experience with the snake in order to eliminate the fear and horror of
death. “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” incorporates a fly into the death
experience, as one of the distinct things heard during the moment of death is
the buzz of the fly. Firstly, Dickinson uses onomatopoeia where a sound
imitated the sound of the fly to cut the quiet in the room allowing readers to
use their senses to visualize the happening scenario. Dickinson describes the
buzz of the fly to be “Blue – uncertain – stumbling” giving the
readers a detailed image to truly experience the after death occurrence. Secondly,
the after death situation is being exemplified by the fly symbolized to
represent decomposition where flies end up on dead bodies to complete the
putrefaction process. Even with this after death experience and decomposition
being ghastly is being associated to a simple buzz and a harmless fly. Death
also being a very strong experience being represented by a simple fly can show
how Dickinson does not perceive death to be intimidating and personifies it as
a peaceful experience. The fly being a negative part of the after death
experience has been given a lively persona where as long as the vibrant buzzing
of the fly is heard; she knows she is alive. Gradually progressing into the
poem as the fly buzz diminishes, the life in her diminishes thereby the disturbing, noise and vibrant movements of the fly are a
reassurance to the speaker that she is alive. Furthermore the inclusion of the
fly into the experience creates a symbolism that death is as natural as the
buzzing of a fly.

As seen in ” After Great Pain A Formal
Feeling Comes”, Dickinson Dickinson refers to the Quartz grave growing out of
the ground as one dies reflect on life after death creating a supernatural
persona characterizing the imagery of inanimate in her poems. Dickinson also
metaphorically uses windows to describe the speaker’s eyes in “I heard a Fly
buzz – when I died” where she uses the concept that the eyes are the windows of
the soul. This biblical reference brings a spiritual aspect to the poem and
thereby adding a certain calamity to the experience of death. Similarly, the
description of the tombstone in “Because I could not stop for Death,” Dickinson
writes, “We paused before a House that seemed – A Swelling of the Ground- The
Roof was scarcely visible- The Cornice-in the Ground” creating powerful imagery
to illustrate the tombstone in a vivid manner allowing reader to actually
imagine the scene. Furthermore, the house in the poem “Because I could not stop
for Death” can symbolize comfort with death where the house represents a grave.

Instead of creating a horrific and depressing image of death leading to the
grave, Dickinson views her grave as a house. A home embodies safety and
happiness thereby creating a relationship between the home and a grave makes
the grave a place of contentment. Another prominent object in the poem is the
carriage around which Dickinson creates imagery using a metaphor. The carriage
is a metaphor for the way in which we make our final passage to death. The
carriage carries the women and death to represent a mode of transportation to
the Afterlife.

            In conclusion with poems such as
“Because I could not stop for Death”, “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died”,
“Success is counted sweetest”, “After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes” and “A
narrow Fellow in the Grass”; Dickinson breaks the perception of a distressing
death experience to a peaceful experience that takes human from life to the
Afterlife when there is serenity. Using literary technique of imagery and
shadowing aspects of romanticism, she has signified the various aspects of the
death occurrence to be perceived with more calmness. Dickinson has excelled
this personification of death by using imagery of internal emotions of comfort
and acceptance to take the readers on a journey from death to Afterlife.

Moreover, nature has been a dominant occurrence in Dickinson’s’ work to create
vivid images for the readers. The personification of inanimate objects has
shown death to be enduring and safe. Finally, inclusion of animal imagery such
as the snake and fly in her poems to represent death has given character and
depth to the concept. 


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