“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.Order now
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 setting in. Dickinson is interested in this death of control, so the reader is reminded of Dickinson’s contrasting views on agony. Dickinson enjoys the fact that people cannot fake the reactions to anguish; therefore their reaction must be true.
Another literary device utilized by Dickinson is personification. In the last two lines, “The Beads upon the Forehead/ By homely Anguish strung” anguish is personified as being able to string. When an author uses personification, human qualities are assigned to something non-human. Personification helps the readers understand anguish because they can easily visualize the act of stringing something. Dickinson utilizes this to create a vision that helps reinforce the fear that people tend to have toward pain and agony.
Once Dickinson can connect the reader through personification, the reader gains greater insight and therefore a better understanding of Dickinson’s fascination of the expression of agony. People have a tendency to fear pain and agony. The use of literary devices adds to this poems meaning. Poets like Dickinson that demonstrate a mastery of literary devices can convey emotions and feelings much more effectively. Imagery helps remind readers of the fear of physical pain. Personification allows readers to visualize and relate to the human characteristics of agony.