In "The Second Coming," how does the speaker view humanity?

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The speaker in "The Second Coming" does not view humanity with positivity.

Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in the wake of World War I. The poem reflects the war's destruction and the resulting lack of hope. The speaker communicates this negativity through the imagery in the first stanza. The poem's opening line sees humanity immersed in a "widening gyre." Its lack of order is symbolized in how "the falcon cannot hear the falconer." Human beings confront a setting where "things fall apart" because the world lacks centered sustainability. The final image of the first stanza communicates the negativity intrinsic to the human condition: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ are full of passionate intensity." The speaker uses imagery in the poem's first stanza to show how human beings are condemned to a bleak reality.

The second stanza enhances the speaker's lack of hope for human beings. In Christian thought, "The Second Coming" of Jesus should provide hope. This vision is inverted as the speaker believes human beings will be victimized. This predator is a creature that carries "a gaze blank" and is as "pitiless as the sun." The speaker feels humanity is helpless against this creature as "twenty centuries of stony sleep/ were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle." As the poem comes to a close, it lacks hope for human beings to withstand this force of malevolence. While the world created in the first stanza is bad, the one awaiting it in the second is far worse. Both stanzas prove how the poem's speaker does not positively view human beings.

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