illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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How does Wordsworth convey his message in his poem "A Night Thought"?

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In Wordsworth's poem "A Night Thought," the speaker communicates his displeasure at how so many people seem to be sullen and "smileless." He believes people should be happy and grateful for all the riches that Fortune has bestowed on them. To convey his message, he personifies the moon, and using a pathetic fallacy, holds it up as the example that mankind should follow. The moon, according to the poet, "along the sky / Sails with her happy destiny." Attributing emotions to inanimate objects of nature as Wordsworth does here is called a pathetic fallacy. Even when clouds obscure the moon, it eventually emerges with a bright attitude. Metaphorically, this means that even when troubles come, as symbolized by the clouds, people should remain cheerful and grateful for what they have. The poet ends by saying that if he ever starts to take on the characteristics of ungrateful, drooping people, he wants to take "a counter impulse ... and be forgiven." Wordsworth uses personification, pathetic fallacy, and symbolism to convey his message that people should be happier and more grateful.

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