SHS Web Conf.
Volume 179, 20232023 6th International Conference on Humanities Education and Social Sciences (ICHESS 2023)
|Number of page(s)
|Social Science and Cognitive Psychoanalysis
|14 December 2023
Emily Dickinson’s Ambivalence about Immortality: An Analysis of “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”
School of English Studies, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Death holds special significance in Emily Dickinson’s poems. “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”, one of her most celebrated death poems, visualizes the dying process with symbolic images and tangible feelings. What is the destination of Death’s chariot? Tomb or eternity? Is immortality attainable? Stirred by vague, paradoxical, and ambiguous descriptions, doubts begin to surface. Based on William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity and detailed textual analysis, this paper attributes the ambivalence towards immortality to Dickinson’s mental complexity, responding to Empson’s call to look for a puzzle. Deeply rooted in Dickinson’s uncertainty about theology, ambiguity is more than a typical poetic strategy. The conflicts between religion and empiricism enable her to believe and disbelieve in different circumstances, and this poem is the best representation. As many of Dickinson’s poems exhibit psychological ambivalence and verbal ambiguity, this paper also strives to build an analytical framework equally applicable to them.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.