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Because I Could Not Stop For Death Lesson Plans

"Because I Could Not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson, is a poem filled with symbolism, deep meaning, and rich language. Dickinson uses various literary elements to convey emotion as she takes readers through the narrator’s journey. Dickinson has influenced many writers since her poems were published, so it is important that students notice the different themes, symbols, and vocabulary she uses. Below are several activities to help students understand each part of the poem, grasp overarching qualities, and make a meaningful "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" analysis.

Student Activities for Because I Could Not Stop for Death


Emily Dickinson was a native to Amherst, MA, born December 10, 1830. She was said to be reclusive, seldom leaving the comfort of her home; however, that did not stop her from making a large impact through her writing. She came from a very political family; her father held a position in the Senate and her brother was a lawyer. Although Dickinson never married, her 1,800 poems were released after her death when the family stumbled upon them. The power and subjects of her poetry have influenced and moved people in ways she would never have imagined.

Buy The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson on Amazon

How To Compare the Writing Style of Emily Dickinson With Other Poets


Investigate Backgrounds

Students should first pick another poet for comparison. They can pick any poem of their choice or interest and teachers can also recommend some. As the first step of this analysis, ask the students to perform some research on the backgrounds and upbringing of both the poets. For instance, Emily Dickinson was an introvert who came from an influential background and never got married. These elements help readers understand the author's work on a deeper level.


Look for Cultural Influences

Another important factor that reflects in the writing is the influence of the culture and time period. If students have selected an author from a similar time period as Emily Dickinson, they might find some similarities in the writing context. Students can also perform some research on the culture, major issues conflicts, and lifestyle of the authors’ time periods.


Examine Language and Diction

Ask the students to pay close attention to the poets' use of terminology and language. Do they use formal or informal language? Do they enjoy using metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech? Compare the language they both employ. They can also generalize the topics and themes the poets mostly talk about.


Examine Distinctive Elements

Encourage the students to describe any characteristics that each poet has that set them apart. For instance, Emily Dickinson is renowned for her unorthodox capitalization and use of dashes.


Create Visual Comparisons

Students can create a chart and divide it into two parts. Use one part for Emily Dickinson and the other for the other poet. Create visual distinctions in writing styles, themes, tone and language, influences, and backgrounds using symbols and interesting phrases.

Frequently Asked Questions About Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

What role does the voyage or the journey play in the poem?

The voyage is a metaphor for the transition from life to death. It is defined as a calm, gradual march that pauses at key locations like a graveyard, a school, and a field of corn. Students can reflect on the meaning and significance of death in the life of Emily Dickinson and analyze the meaning of the poem on a deeper level.

What are the poem's symbolic components or elements that the author has employed?

The school, the field of grain, the carriage trip, and the setting sun are all significant. For instance, the school stands for the beginning of life and education, while the sinking sun depicts the conclusion of life. The entire poem is full of symbolism which represents the journey of a person from beginning to the end.

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