"Because I Could Not Stop For Death" TPCASTT Analysis

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Because I Could Not Stop for Death TPCASTT

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Activity Overview


Poetry is one of the most expressive forms of literature. It can evoke emotions, set a mood, tell a story, or create a deeply and universally understood feeling in its readers. This makes expounding its elements, and understanding its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols, even more important.

The TP-CASTT method of poetry analysis is a great way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its parts. It helps students to uncover the deeper meanings within poems while giving them the confidence to be self-educators. TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for math. It asks students to list items in sequential order and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.


TP-CASTT Analysis
( TPCASTT Lesson PlanBuy PosterBuy PDF )

TPCASTT Example for "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

T

TITLE

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” might imply that the narrator cheated death in some way.
P

PARAPHRASE

The poem begins by personifying death as a person in a carriage, who picks up the narrator as a passenger. As they ride around peacefully, they see many things: children playing, fields of grain, and finally the head stone of the narrator. Here, she realizes that it has been centuries since she died. However, it only felt like a few hours.
C

CONNOTATION

Going beyond the literal meaning, Dickinson almost seems content with death.
A

ATTITUDE/TONE

Using words like “kindly”, “leisure”, “passed”, “riding”, “slowly”, and “civility” suggests an attitude of comfort and peace.
S

SHIFTS

A shift occurs in stanza six, in the last four lines. “Since then- ‘tis Centuries – and yet/ Feels shorter than the Day/ I first surmised the Horses’ Heads/ Were toward Eternity.” The previous attitude that seemed peaceful changes to an enlightenment that is startling. The speaker comes to the realization that the ride has been centuries and not hours.
T

TITLE

After reading the poem, my interpretation of the title was incorrect. The speaker was unable to cheat death. No matter what, when it is your time, it will come unexpectedly. No one is prepared, just as the speaker was not prepared.
T

THEME

The theme that 'Death is Eternity' is evident as the speaker realizes how far death goes as there is no concept of time.


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Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of "Because I Could Not Stop for Death". Remember that TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TPCASTT.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.

TPCASTT Template

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