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In William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven," perception plays an important role in the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived.

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Introduction

In William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven," perception plays an important role in the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived. It plays an important role because it shows how the death of the girl's siblings is viewed differently by the speaker (the perceiver) and the girl (the perceived). Firstly, the speaker's perception of death is different from that of the girl. Heaven or the afterlife is viewed differently by both the speaker and the girl. In addition, the speaker represents cynicism and experience. The girl is perceived by the speaker as pastoral and innocent. Their different circumstances in life create the different opinions that they have. Finally, these areas of contention between the perceived and the perceiver create a situation where the two characters insist on their own individual perceptions and this shows how limiting individual perception can be. Death is viewed by the speaker as completely removing the dead individuals from existence on Earth. "But they are dead; those two are dead! / Their spirits are in Heaven!" (Wordsworth, LL 65-66). The speaker believes that the girl's dead siblings are in Heaven, while the girl believes they are in the ground and still dwell on Earth. ...read more.

Middle

The speaker represents cynicism and experience, while the girl represents the pastoral and the innocent. The two characters are at different stages of their lives. The meaning of death and dying change as people grow from childhood to adulthood, and the girl does not completely understand death. She believes her brother and sister are still with her - they are in the churchyard, but the speaker insists they are gone to Heaven. Their particular perceptions of death are indicative of their present individual circumstances in life. The girl is young and innocent and in "We Are Seven" the speaker equates her innocence with the pastoral: "I met a little cottage Girl: / She was eight years old, she said.../ She had a rustic, woodland air, / And she was wildly clad..." (Wordsworth, LL 5, 9-10). The pastoral represents nature, natural beauty, untainted and unaltered. Thus, it is fitting that the speaker describes her in pastoral terms because she is indeed young and as of yet untainted by life's hardships and the more difficult experiences a person encounters as they grow into adulthood. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that he says "in heaven" places emphasis on the fact that he feels they are not on Earth; they are gone. However, the girl seems oblivious to that part of his question and insists once more that "we are seven." The girl feels that her dead siblings can still be included among her present group of siblings. The speaker would perhaps be satisfied if the girl responded "we were seven" indicating that the two dead siblings are not included in the present tense. The fact that the characters maintain their individual perceptions speaks to the limitations of refusing to see a situation in more than one way. In "We Are Seven," perception plays an important role in the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived. The speaker (the perceiver) acknowledges the girl's (the perceived) point of view but does not change his own perception. In addition, the girl does not alter her point of view. If the two characters had chosen to consider each other's perspectives they may have been enlightened with a different point of view. Overall, "We Are Seven" shows that there is more than one way to see any given situation and it is best to consider the perceptions of others. ...read more.

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