Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man Epistle I Presentation by Katie Jones
Essay on Man Written during the Enlightenment in England by Alexander Pope Presentation focus is on Epistle I
In this lesson: The Enlightenment in England Style of Poem Alexander Pope Biography Selected passages
The Enlightenment Also known as the Age of Reason Took place during the 18 th century Took place during the 18 th century Focus was on power of the mind, nature and society Focus was on power of the mind, nature and society Social class important Social class important
Enlightenment Enlightenment Was influenced by philosophers such as Sir Isaac Newton Was influenced by philosophers such as Sir Isaac Newton Marked a change in the way of thinking Marked a change in the way of thinking
Style of Poem Pope used iambic pentameter in Essay on Man Does not necessarily have to rhyme, however, Pope rhymes his lines in couplets Reading the poem with the correct rhythm will help reader with speed and understanding
Iambic Pentameter and Couplets Each line consists of 5 beats and 10 syllables When reading, every other syllable is emphasized (emphasize bold print) What can we reason but from what we know (Essay on Man, line 18) (Essay on Man, line 18)
Alexander Pope Born on May 22, 1688 Born on May 22, 1688 Began writing poetry at age 12 Began writing poetry at age 12 Only grew to 4 feet tall due to turburclious of the spine Only grew to 4 feet tall due to turburclious of the spine Died May 30, 1744 Died May 30, 1744
Alexander Pope Wrote Essay on Man to justify the ways of God to man Wrote Essay on Man to justify the ways of God to man Made up of 4 Epistles, Pope began writing them in 1729 Made up of 4 Epistles, Pope began writing them in 1729 Published in its entirety by 1734 anonymously Published in its entirety by 1734 anonymously Pope claimed credit in 1735. Pope claimed credit in 1735.
Selected Passges Passages either exemplify main theme of poem, demonstrate style, or provide exceptional imagery
Theme Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; But vindicate the ways of God to man. (15-16) Explains the main theme of the poem, which is Pope, being one of the “enlightened”, explaining God and the nature of creation to man.
Hierarchy Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn support, upheld by God, or thee? (33-34) Here, Pope is referring to the Great Chain of Being, with everything in the universe being under God
Man in his place Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find, Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind? First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess, Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less? (35-39) Says man is in his rightful rank in creation and should not question his abilities or talents
The Universe as a machine So man, who here seems principal alone, Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown, Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal; 'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. (57-60; refer also to lines 53-56 in text) Says that everything we do is connected to something else and is part of a plan
Ignorance is bliss Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of fate, All but the page prescrib'd, their present state: …The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? (77-78, 81-82) It is better that we do not know what the future holds, so that we are able to enjoy life
Justice Call imperfection what thou fancy'st such, Say, here he gives too little, there too much: Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust, Yet cry, If man's unhappy, God's unjust; (115-118) Pope is angry that man destroys life without care, yet gets angry at God for the same thing
Ideas of the time Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly, Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurled, Being on being wrecked, and world on world; (251-254) New Enlightenment idea of existence of other planets in universe
Summary All nature is but art, unknown to thee; All chance, direction, which thou canst not see; All discord, harmony not understood; All partial evil, universal good. (289-292) This passage summarizes the entire poem saying that nature is a work of art and everything in it has reason.
Conclusion And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite, One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT (293-294) The words “WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT” emphasizes the poem’s overall theme and delivers the final statement of his philosophy.
Acknowledgments The portrait of Alexander Pope and select information was found through http://en.wikipedia.org The portrait of Alexander Pope and select information was found through http://en.wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org Exerts taken from Exerts taken from Classic Literature online Classic Literature onlineClassic Literature onlineClassic Literature online