Analyzing the Text
The dashes make the reader pause and reflect on the words preceding the dash. In such they emphasize certain words and help clarify what is important in the poem. For example in “The Soul selects her own Society,” the dashes first help create a reflective and authoritative tone, it is impossible to read this poem quickly. Second, the repeated dashes after “unmoved” in lines 5 and 7, emphasize the steadiness and purpose of the Soul.
Death’s character is ironic because he “kindly stopped”(2) for the speaker even though the speaker is headed towards him. The point of view of the speaker allows the reader to see a kind and civilized Death, which courts his living victims even though they are all headed “toward Eternity” (24). This is ironic because Death does not need to court or stop for anyone.
The speaker in “Because I could not stop for Death” is along for the ride: the repetition of “we passed” demonstrates this. The speaker in this poem is not in charge of her destiny or her company. In comparison, the speaker in “The Soul selects her own Society” is incredibly active. As the title states, she chooses her company and instead of riding in the carriage, “unmoved”(5) she “notes the Chariots” (5) outside.
The majority in “The Soul selects her own Society” refers to the Soul’s royal or selective power in choosing who surrounds her. The majority in “Much Madness is divinest Sense” refers to the external Majority (Society) which determines what is sane and what is dangerous. We can infer from this that the poet thinks somewhat poorly of the Majority, as the Majority is selective, elitist and subjective.
They indicate that the individual is educated and knows legal terminology (as both of these words have legal connotations.) They could also indicate that the individual is a woman, as demur is a word specifically used by courtly women.
The paradox in “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” is that the speaker wants the entire truth to be told, but indirectly. This is a paradox because telling the truth indirectly is not telling all of it. The paradox in “Much Madness is divinest Sense” is that madness and sense(sanity) are not so different, when in fact they mean exact opposites. Both of these truths convey the inherent subjectivity of truth and reality — the subjectivity of life.
The poet uses this term because it refers to the internal character/personality of a person. It goes beyond the physical/material choice of a person and into the spiritual decisions of souls. Both this poem and “Because I could not stop for Death” personify the soul and reflect the activity of internal life.
Metaphors: “the Setting Sun,” “Fields of Gazing Grain,” “Dews drew quivering and chill.” These metaphors express the natural and inevitability of death. She pairs these metaphors with the kindly, courtly Death so as to show that Death is a friend, a way into Immortality.