In what way does the adjective 'stern' fit the character of the daughter in "Ode to Duty"? 1st stanza, 1st line

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In characterizing the concept of duty as "stern," the speaker, presumably Wordsworth, is reflecting its powerfully compelling notion.  There is a reverence for the guidance contained within "duty" and the manner in which it provides a sense of guidance and comfort.  The notion of it being "stern" helps to accentuate...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In characterizing the concept of duty as "stern," the speaker, presumably Wordsworth, is reflecting its powerfully compelling notion.  There is a reverence for the guidance contained within "duty" and the manner in which it provides a sense of guidance and comfort.  The notion of it being "stern" helps to accentuate this quality of direction given to those who abide by it and fully embrace it.  The first stanza is replete with images that help bring out this idea of providing light in a darkened world.  "The light to guide," "the rod to check the erring," and the ability to "calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity" are all pictures to help convey the idea that duty is an element that helps us understand who we are and what we do.  In opening this ode with the concept of "stern," the speaker casts duty as a bane of strength and its ability to rise above all as it assists all who take it as their own.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team