The subject of religion, death or afterlife

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Death, as a subject can be witnessed in many of the Emily Dickinson’s poems. However, it is not easy to proclaim that exactly how many poems are related to this subject. After all, several other concerns can also be observed in the poems of Dickinson. Many of the poems also feature different other topics such as religion, afterlife, and many more. There are many other poets of the nineteenth century who also write on these types of topics; they are Whitman and Keats. The mortality rate, during the time of Dickinson, in New England was quite high. It is even truer in the case of younger people. Therefore, the somberness of the poems was also extremely prominent. On the other hand, the death scenes were also higher in number thereby leading to the withdrawal, non-romantic aspect, and fulfillment above and beyond the grave. Hence, in this paper, it can be witnessed how various authors from the Gothic, Puritan, and 19th century eras have deciphered the subjects such as religion, death, and afterlife.


Comparison of Masters, Whitman, and Dickinson’s works

The works of Dickinson and Whitman have several differences, which are more innate in nature. Firstly, the death poems of Whitman are complex and long. On the other hand, the Dickinson’s simple and short poems are also prominent and meaningful. Alternatively, the view of Whitman is actually reflective in the case of Transcendentalism. One of the significant poetries of Whitman is “Song of Myself”, where afterlife concept is largely visible (Discovery Education). He explained this very concept with the help of Thermodynamics theories. For instance, energy can hardly be destroyed. However, it transforms from one to another form. It is quite visible in the nature itself. For example, one of the smallest life. i.e., sprout, is an exemplary in this case.

On the contrary, the death is paradoxical and complex for Dickinson. She cannot take the route of easy after-death and continuation of life, in the form of soul. Dickinson actually personified death, in most of her poetries. According to her, the death is more of a compelling lover or a lord. For example, she said in one her poems that death would pick her up mostly in a carriage and continue the process of courtship. The main thing she proclaims here is that she cannot stop for anything or anyone when the death will be waiting at her doorsteps. Furthermore, she explains what can actually happen once a human being crosses the fine boundary between the death and life. Another distinction in her poems is the explanation of both the sounds and images.

Alternatively, according to Edgar Lee Masters, one of her popular characters, Julia, sits to consume morphine and waits patiently for the death. Masters’ sonnets are smoother flowing and narrative in nature. She decides to commit suicide and largely asserts that the death cannot take away her power to see the world. Even after she departs from her body, her suicide letter will be clearly visible. The complexity and personification aspects remain absent in the literary works, i.e., the poems of Masters. Apart from this, the religious aspect has been introduced by Masters, in his poetries ( For example, Julia narrated few biblical verses before committing suicide. It simply means that she is actually quite optimistic about her journey of death and after-life.

Difference of their works with the Puritan authors

The Puritans were primarily quite methodical and intellectual in nature. They were also considered to be self-educated and self-made. Hence, their exceptional features are evident in this case. As a result, this background has a vivid reflection on the poetries and other literary works of the Puritans. In fact, for them, the fictional writings were accounted as the works of Devil. Thus, their preferences tilted towards the proses than poetries. On the other hand, the personal reflections were encouraged by them, for self-introspection. The Puritans actually wrote about their real motives, in only a handful of their poetries. On the other hand, according to the Puritans, the world is more of a symbol. They actually rejected the creation itself to a large extent and thus, it is beneath them. Lastly, the death aspect is absent in their poems. However, the religious angle was clearer on their poetries. The God’s grace is also quite prominent in their literary works.

As a result, a disparity can be seen between the works of the above-mentioned authors and the Puritans. For example, those authors emphasized on the death as well as after-life elements. On the contrary, the Puritans wrote more on various religious aspects.

Conduct of the Gothic writers

The Gothic death writings were primarily creepy. Alternatively, the Gothic writers mostly, unlike others, emphasized on the darkness, somberness, and sufferings related to the Gothic culture. As a result, the flow of Gothic poetries is actually focused on the sadness and not relief. Others have portrayed the after-life component as more freeing in nature. In such a scenario, even the after-life aspect is missing all together (The Literary Network). For the Gothic poets, death is more painful and blood-wrenching than anything else. Moreover, if there was any existence of the soul for them, then after death anyone would not feel morose and gloomy. It is soul that matters, after all.

How the perception has changed about death from the Puritan authors to Masters, Dickinson, and Whitman’s eras

Things have changed largely from the Puritans to the time of Whitman, Dickinson, and others. For example, during the time of Puritans, the religion concept was given more importance and thus the same can be noticed in various poetries. On the other hand, the poets such as Masters, Dickinson, and many more concentrated on the concept of after-life. It is something that helped them to perceive death more lightly (The University of Chicago). Alternatively, the Gothics negated this very concept all together and emphasized on the dark-side of death. The religious aspect also remained silent in their writings. No logical angle such as various theories hardly manifested in the poetries of those Gothic writers.


From the above-paper, it is quite evident that the style of deciphering death, religion, and after-life changed with the passage of time. The three poets whose literary works are the base of this study are Whitman, Masters as well as Dickinson. On one hand, the Puritans disliked the fictional writings and thus focused on the religion, in their literary pieces; on the other hand, the Gothics mostly emphasized on the gloomy angle of death. Lastly, the former writers have personified death to a large extent and used theories to explain the after-death element.

Did you like this sample?
  1. “Equality” The University of Chicago, 2017, Accessed 14 November 2017.
  2. “Julia Miller” com, 2015, Accessed 14 November 2017.
  3. “Life in Salem 1692” Discovery Education, 2015, Accessed 14 November 2017.
  4. “The Birthmark” The Literary Network, 2017, Accessed 14 November 2017.
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