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Johnson on Pope

Johnson on Pope

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Johnson on Pope

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  1. Johnson on Pope

  2. An Essay on Man • “Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised.” – Samuel Johnson • Johnson’s opinion of Pope’s work is a minority one • Many view An Essay on Man as the Everest of 18th- century poetry

  3. Tone • Tone of the poem is urbane. Pope takes on the guise of a friend – a sophisticated man of the world indulging in a conversation with an amateur philosopher and well-bred nobleman. • In Pope’s defense, he recognized his deficiencies as a philosopher, therefore writing in his epigrammatic style served his purposes well – the couplet is easy to remember! • To err is human, to forgive divine • To err is human, to moo bovine

  4. Pope Presents Three Evils • The first is an evil caused by man’s misunderstanding of the Great Chain of Being. Man is unable to accept his lot because his Pride prohibits him from recognizing his middle state. He therefore tries to be more spiritual by following false religions, or he wants physical powers that are a prime characteristic of those lower on the Chain

  5. 2 A second evil is natural, a physical catastrophe such as an earthquake or *flood. The general laws by which God acts do not exist solely for man’s sake; they exist for the whole of Nature. * Rainfall is essential to life; therefore, God cannot be questioned for a flood that kills human beings

  6. 3 The third evil is moral. Man is composed of psychic elements that must be harmonized. I know, sounds groovy!!! Man is created with both reason and emotion as parts of his psychic nature, and the emotional part is essential in motivating his conduct. But, the emotions must be governed by reason. If not a monstrous, immoral being – a Borgia or a Cataline – results. (or a Cromwell!) The nature of man cannot be blamed if man disregards reason and allows his emotions to pervert his true nature

  7. Man’s pride, then, is responsible for each of these evils. His violation of the divine order is his fall, and his regeneration lies in his accepting his position in the scheme of things • “One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.” • But! Man must have faith in the whole in order to live at peace in his own sphere