On "I Like a Look of Agony"

Topics: Emotion, Literary devices, Feeling Pages: 2 (548 words) Published: February 2, 2006
"I like a look of Agony," by Emily Dickinson, uses literary devices to affect the reader. People normally have a fear of agony, but Dickinson uses literary devices such as imagery and personification to reveal her contrasting enjoyment of this usually disagreeable emotion. The opening line "I like a look of Agony," could be interpreted as brutal and cold. However, completely reading the poem allows the reader to understand what the first line actually means. Dickinson does not like a look of agony because she enjoys watching others suffer; she is fascinated by the expression of agony. The second line of the poem "Because I know it's true-," offers some insight into why she has this fascination. Many human emotions can be falsely projected or controlled. People tend to feel comfortable when they are in control of their emotions. People who are in agony don't only experience pain, but can also act unusually under the strain. This potential for a loss of control can evoke fear in people: No one can fake the physical reactions accompanying agony. The line "impossible to feign," is Dickinson's way of expressing the hopelessness in trying to disguise the reactions. This loss of control is the focus of her fascination, and her motivation for writing this poem. Dickinson uses imagery to describe the reactions from the pain. Imagery of physical reactions to agony can convey feeling associated with it to the reader, but Dickinson contrasts this with her own views. The physical reactions of a convulsion, a throe, and eyes glazing over are effective as reminders because they all have a connotation of pain and death. Because it makes reference to death, the strongest of these descriptions is the one referring to the eyes. "The Eyes glaze once - and that is Death-," creates a vision of a slow process of death. Death is also a metaphor, the death of the control. Once the eyes begin to glaze over, physical death could be pending and death of emotional control could also be...
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