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Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death

by Emily Dickinson

Love Theme

The poem doesn't really address love head-on, but it certainly gives us a glimpse into courtship (a.k.a. dating) and romantic love. If you exchange "Tom" or "Joe" for "Death" here, this could be a pretty good example of dating for the 1800s. The speaker's tone in the poem makes the reader believe the speaker does not fear death, but feels the opposite toward it. If the poem did not explore death with an underlying theme of love, the acceptance of death might eventually be hard for the reader to believe.

Questions About Love

  1. Why didn't the speaker and Death ever speak?
  2. Think about what she's wearing. Does her outfit remind you of a wedding gown at all? Or a fancy outfit? What do you think this means?
  3. Is the love between the speaker and Death romantic love, or something else? What could it be? What evidence in the poem makes you think so?
  4. Do you think Death is really gentlemanly, or is this just a front to get her to go along with him?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker knew about the date beforehand and that's why she's dressed up and not at all surprised to see Death.

The speaker hasn't really passed into an afterlife, but lives in the "house" with Death.

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