I Died for Beauty--but Was Scarce

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Caitlin McGregor Emily Dickinson Analytical October 11, 2012 “I Died for Beauty—but was scarce” by Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I Died for Beauty,” is a depressing piece about what happens to people after they die. Not literally but more figuratively. The poem tells a story of two dead people who were completely different in the way that they lived their lives who are now speaking to each other about their previous lives. This poem follows Dickinson’s most popular theme, death, along with one’s unimportance and insignificance after they’re gone. The poem begins with the narrator saying “I died for Beauty—but was scarce.” The way this line is worded shows that the narrator was not satisfied by the way she lived their life. The narrator considered herself to be different from others but was not remembered for anything after perishing. The third line introduces the second character into the poem. The narrator describes him as “…One who died for Truth,” showing that she praised him much more in his life than she did herself. The last line of this stanza says that the man was laid in the “room” next to her. What you can interpret from this line is that even though someone may have been higher in social status or a better person in life, etc. does not matter after you have died. It is irrelevant and insignificant which is shown because of the fact that the narrator and the man are now “neighbors.” In the second stanza, the new character asks the narrator why he has failed. This is a play on words for failed: why the man was not successful in life and why he is treated this way after death. The narrator answers, “For Beauty…” and the man replies, “And I—for Truth…” which in the next part of this line and the following line explains again that what you were before death has nothing to do with what you are afterwards. This man was
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