The complex fate of human beings in this tragic yet beutiful world and the possible fortunes of the human spirit in a subsequent life is what interests us all in life, and this is the central theme in most of Emily Dickinsons work. In her enticing poetry, Emily establishes a dialectical relationship between reality and imagination, the known and the unknown. By ordering the stages of life to include death and eternity, Dickinson suggests the interconnected and mutually determined nature of the finite and infinite.
She aims to elucidate the incomprehensible, life, death, and the stages of existence. The subjects of life and death have been a traditional theme in poetry and they are central to most of Dickinsons poems. Love and ecstacy are also primary in her poems and they are often cconcerned with celestial betrothal. In the poem “Death is a subtle suitor”, Dickinson illustrates the love-death symbolism, an explicit rendering of deatyh as the lover who transports her in his carriage to be married in a proxy wedding.
Dickinson uses the metaphor of a funeral as the wedding journey to eternity, setting up a system of correspondences between the changes brought about by death ans the changes in role of the unnamed partners in this spiritual love game. ‘Death’, to be sure, is not the true bridegroom but a surrogare, which accounts for his minor role. He is the envoy taking her on this curously premature wedding journey to the heavenly alter whre she will be mariied to God. When ‘Death ‘ first appears as a suitor she changes from a girl to a blushing virgin.
This must be a ‘stealthy Wooing,’ for though she knows it will result ina glorious new status for her, she is vaguely aware that it will mean a renunciation of all the world she has known. She shows a maidenly resereve by the manner in which she forces to conduct his courtship, by ‘palid imnnuendoes’ and a ‘dim’ approach. ‘ But he does win at last and attains his goal, for he is a ‘supple Suitor’. The second change comes twith great suddenness for it is the kiss of death, transforming her from virgin to bride, or at least the betrothed.
Then ‘Death’ bears her away ‘in triumph,’ both from a substitute wedding and towards a final one, to the sound of ‘brave Bugles’ such as would accounce a royal merriage, or the Day of Doom. The peculiar duality of this journey is reflected by the vehicle in which they travel, ‘a bisected Coach. ‘ This has a variety of meanings that illustrate the twofold nature of the journey tey are taking. As a wedding coach it divides the wife-to-be from the virginal life left behind, and as a heavenly chariot, the mortal from the immortal.
The third and final change of status lies beyond the poem because it lies beyond death. She only knows that she is goind to a ‘Troth unknown. ‘ The impossibility of describing her spiritual marriage is put plainly in this phrase and in the vagueness of her projection of the glorious life to come, with ‘Kinsmen as divulgeless/As Clans of Down. ‘ Thus the suitor is transformed into the bridegroom and prospective husband in the three stages of the poem. These three stages correspond to the awareness of death, the act of death, and the state after death.
Thus Dickinson portrays the speaker as the bride of God, entering heaven in her beutiful carriage. One of the most striking characteristics of this poem is the speaker’s awareness that while death is always with her, his relationship to her is always changing. Therefore the definition takes the form of a progression. From the second line ‘That wins at last,’ we can see that the speaker is repelled by the suit, thus death is something which she can not be rid of.
In this poem we can see that the speaker’s willingness to give up this world is continent upon her recognition of the requirement of doing so. Thus in this poem, death is not really a loss for the dying person but is rather a reunion. The speaker does not court death but rather union, as evident in the first two lines “Death is a supple Suitor/That wins at last. ” The world then is not destroyed for the self as a consequense of death but is rather reconstructed.