In the poem "I like a look of Agony," by Emily Dickinson, one of the ways the poem's affects on the reader is improved is though the use of literary devices. People normally have trepidation of agony, but Dickinson uses literary devices such as imagery, personification, and connotation to reveal her contrasting enjoyment to the social norm. The opening line "I like a look of Agony," (line 1) could be interpreted as sadistic and cold. 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-," (line 2) 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 cannot only experience pain but can also be removed from their comfort zone. This potential for lose of control can therefore evoke fear in people. No one can fake the physical reactions accompanying agony. The line "impossible to feign," (line 6) is Dickinson's way of expressing the hopelessness in trying to disguise the reactions. People are used to being in control and interacting with people who also have this control. It can be uncomfortable for people to watch others in agony because it reminds them of how, if they were in the same situation, it would be impossible to disguise the pain. This loose 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.