Alexander Pope

An Exploration of ‘dulness’ in Pope’s Dunciad

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

One of Pope’s most fundamental premises in The Dunciad is the idea that the demise of the word cannot be blamed solely on the Grub Street hacks but also on academicians at large. Not only does the ‘uncreating word’ of Chaos (IV 653) pose as a religious and moral Armageddon – this allusion to the reinstatement of conditions that existed before creation being perhaps the most sinister image in the poem’s entirety – but also as a semantic and creative apocalypse. The textual critics such as the Tibbaldian hero of the previous editions of The Dunciad, clearly contribute to this dissolution, and their effect on the author’s ‘wits’ whom they study is violent and brutal:

When Dulness, smiling – ‘Thus revive the Wits!

But murder first, and mince them all to bits…

…Let standard authors, thus, like trophies born,

Appear more glorious as more hack’d and torn,

And you, my Critics! in the chequer’d shade,

Admire new light through holes yourselves have made. (IV 119-126)

Among the vast army of personae attacked by Pope in The Dunciad, two characters, Dr Busby and Richard Bentley are satirised at some length and as such, are held as the arch propagators of academic Dulness. Being projected very much as Dulness’ chief representative in schools, Busby’s heavy pedantry and a heavier hand is shown to debar pupils from genuine enlightenment:

We ply the Memory, we load the brain,

Bind rebel Wit, and double chain on chain,

Confine the thought, to exercise the breath;

And keep them in the pale of Words till death.

What’er the talents, or how’er design’d,

We hang one jingling padlock on the mind. (IV 157-162)

Warburton’s annotations to these lines likens the versified mnemonics in rote-learning as practiced by Dr Busby in Winchester to the bells put onto draught horses’ bridles, emphasises Pope’s own satire of an inescapable academic world in which, words instead of being a means to knowledge, are built into a barrier against it. This idea of textual Dulness as repressive, burdensome, and imprisoning has also been presented earlier to the reader:

Beneath her footstool, Science groans in chains,

And Wit dreads exile, penalties, and pains.

There foam’d rebellious Logic , gagg’d and bound,

There, stripp’d, fair Rhet’ric languish’d on the ground (IV 21-24)

But Pope’s satire extends beyond Busby’s stick-wielding classroom habits to political Dulness, immaturity and consequently independence, in the sense that the ‘Boy-Senator’, even after leaving school, still cringes in fear of being punished. As Valerie Rumbold notes, “…when such young men leave school Walpole takes on the absolute power of a Busby over them, making nonsense of their supposed role as representatives of a free people.” Pope seems to suggest that this education can be of little use as it takes no more account of the varying demands life will make on the students than it does of their varying talents. Seemingly, Busby’s academic Dulness not only stunts free-thinking creative growth, but also his influence resurfaces as a debilitating trait in his students later on in their careers.

Yet another perfect bte noire for the ‘ancients’ such as Pope, Bentley’s mangling of the text of Milton’s Paradise Lost is also exemplary for corrupting words in what is considered to be a superficial, unnecessary, and irrelevant exercise:

Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain,

Critics like me shall make it prose again. (IV 213-214)

Bentley’s enlightened concern with accuracy is deliberately confounded with his Enlightenment arrogance, his inability to allow the dead poet his autonomy. As J. Philip Brockbank notes, “Our education, as transmitters of literary tradition, have some place in the creation story, and their function, according to Pope, has been to subdue all creative art to dullness.”

Having once censured ‘Dunce’ scholars such as Bentley and Theobald who either over-analyse texts (particularly problematic if the mistakes found therein are from Pope’s own works) or fragment literature to a series of meaningless words and disjointed letters, which cease therefore to signify, (“Tis true, on words is still our whole debate,/ Disputes of Me or Te , of aut or at,/ To sound or sink in cano , O or A,/ Or give up Cicero to C or K” {IV 219-222}) Pope’s satire on Dulness is further applied to the incongruity of things.

The way the characters in The Rape of the Lock attach immoderate importance to particular objects (the lock of hair itself), is one of Pope’s chief sources of social and cultural comment. In it, there is also a tendency for routine objects to be invested with almost religious significance and to be registered as precious or attractive. The same method is employed in The Dunciad, but the transitions which the objects experience are different. As critic Martin Blocksidge notes, “Wherein The Rape of the Lock the trivial was made significant, in The Dunciad, the potentially significant is trivialised in order to present a view of culture and learning which has become fatally fragmented and concerned with mere shards rather than with real objects.”

The whole superficiality of learning and apprehension is summed up in Pope’s treatment of the young man undertaking his grand tour. Pope offers a criticism of tourists which has with time become commonplace enough: that they are likely to visit places simply for the joy of having been there, rather than because they are particularly well equipped to get anything out of what they see. Pope’s ‘young Aeneas’ makes a breezy whistle-stop tour of Europe:

Intrepid then, o’er seas and lands he flew,

Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too…(IV 293-294)

Not only are Europe’s cultural monuments cheapened by the young man’s indiscriminating avidity before them (‘The Stews and Palace equally explor’d/ Intrig’d with glory, and with spirit whor’d’ {315-6}), some are degraded by time anyway. For example, the once-great city of Venice is now merely effete and vicious:

Where, eas’d of Fleets, the Adriatic main

Wafts the smooth Eunuch and enamour’d swain.

Led by my hand, he saunter’d Europe round,

And gather’d ev’ry Vice on Christian ground; (IV 309-312)

Introducing a satirical account of what was considered to be a necessary part in the completion of the education of the member of the ruling class in the eighteenth century, this Grand Tour did little to mature the minds of the young travellers but instead was blamed for introducing foreign corruption into politics, religion and culture, as well as allowing the men to indulge in unrestrained debauchery in a city of decadent carnivals involving masking and fancy dress. And Venice, in ‘dull’ decline despite a proud tradition of liberty, can furthermore also be seen as a specific warning to Britain.

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Review of the Poem “An Essay on Man” by Alexander Pope

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

“An Essay on Man A” Alexander Pope A Understand yourself as god will be able to accept you and begin to study you. Humans tend to believe they are the best but not quite. A man is just worthless, not understanding how much that impacts him as they decide from evil and good. If man were to commit to evil, they would have a reason for such; instead it was intelligent or not.

Humans tend to realize what effect they have R What one of my conclusions lead to a theme was when the pope decides that happiness is just another ex off. consciousness If only man and women were to live and treat gods ruling with open ears, all is happy and understands the world along with its system T The tone of the poem comes from telling us what people are in reality. The objective is where men and women and their place in our world. As the pope states that man is placed here but doesn’t know what a mans place or why man was set here, to begin with. The pope uses greek god mythology to explain and shows that society is not defined. What the pope is describing is how everyone has great qualities that everyone wants rather than the bad attributes the rest as along with them. W I’ve found some lines that I can quite understand and make points about. In lines 5-6are quite interesting. It is in a sense that number 5 shows a man that’s great and smart, just about perfect. In front 6 it explains how the other is weak. With both lines side by side, I believe it shows how man is weak yet man is also strong showing one good quality over the other, but then something changes on line 7.

Another person or man is between both the people as if he was stuck but not stuck, another example of how man is in the middle. Essay on Man is nine heroic couplets, 18 lines -a heroic couplet is a stanza consisting of two rhyming lines in iambic pentameter, some type of repeat into the rhyme scheme S It has a clear message in the entire poem. It starts by expelling some kind of a lousy intelligence as well as a sort of rude but grateful gesture and how man is somewhat smart and capable of problems but yet weak in its environment but finished with a calm man and a man that understands gods will. The poem itself is quite small but packs a ton of meaning into it as it expresses itself onto the reader as the reader must be open-minded to truly understand what the poem is attempting to speak out to the reader and being able to grasp all of its information CS.

In conclusion, this poem is represented as how a man is stuck between being perfect and imperfect. As it shows evidence as for how the poem wants a man to become just in between rather than attached and hopes to have all men freed into oblivious.

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Analysis of “An Essay on Man”

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The assertion of the first epistle of Pope’s “An Essay on Man” is that man has too narrow a perspective to truly understand God’s plan, and his goal is to “vindicate the ways of God to man” (Pope 16). The ignorance of man befits his place in the order of creation, and his confusion conceals the harmony of that order. The individual lines of this epistle appear to present a fatalistic universe, devoid of free will, where all things are fated to happen. Although if the work is viewed as a whole, Pope’s optimism shows through.

Pope begins by explaining that he can only comment on what can be known by man. “Through worlds unnumbered though the God be known,/’Tis ours to trace him only in our own” (1.21-22). Even though the universe my hold many worlds, only Earth can be known to man. It is the only frame of reference that Pope could write about, and his audience be made to understand. He advises his readers to put aside their hubris and consider “Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,/And drawn supports, upheld by God or thee?” (1.33-34). Only after man puts aside his ego and contemplates “the great chain,” will he be able to understand his place in God’s plan.

By saying, “Then say not man’s imperfect, Heaven in fault;/Say rather, man’s as perfect as he ought” (2.69-70), Pope is trying to illustrate that even perceived imperfection is part of the plan. Human imperfection should not be seen as a slight by God, but as a necessity. The epistle also states, “What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,/But gives that hope to be thy blessing now” (3.93-94), showing that human happiness is dependent on both hope and ignorance of the future. Mankind should not spend all its time trying to guess what God has planned, but merely have faith that life shall work out the way it should.

Pope shows his contempt for man’s pride by stating, “Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,/Redjudge his justice, be the God of God!/In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies” (4.121-123). Man is unwise to think that his ability to reason puts him on the same level as God, “And who but wishes to invert the laws/Of order, sins against the Eternal Cause” (4.129-130). This hubris is what leads to man’s unhappiness, because “to reason right is to submit” (5.164). If God is a perfect being, then man should accept that perfection and not question the direction the universe takes.

By stating, “the first Almighty Cause/Acts not by partial, but by general laws” (5.145-146), Pope is trying to make his readers understand that humans are not the whole of creation, and creation was not created wholly for them. There is an order to creation, where each position is filled by the correct life form. Man is where he should be in “the great chain” and should not envy the beasts below him or question God above. “The bliss of man […]/Is not to act or think beyond mankind’/No powers of body or of soul to share,/But what his nature and his state can bear” (6.189-192). This acceptance of creation is the key to man’s happiness, and that happiness is threatened by man’s ability to think and reason.

“Where, one step broken, the great scale’s destroyed:/From Nature’s chain whatever link you strike,/Ten or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike” (8.244-246). So if one rises above or falls below their position in God’s order, it will destroy the whole of the plan. It then becomes clear that wanting to subvert God’s plan, even to the benefit of mankind, is madness. Instead man should come to understand “All are but parts one stupendous whole,/Whose body Nature is, and God the soul” (9.265-266). So, one should not fear or doubt, but admit they are powerless and accept their place in creation.

Although Pope’s language is harsh and seemingly fatalistic, a critical reading of the first epistle to “An Essay on Man” shows his optimism in God’s plan. Pope appears to believe that not only does God have a plan, but that plan serves the best interest of the whole of creation. Just because man has difficulties accepting his place in the plan, does not mean the plan is flawed, merely that man must accept that he is not the sole beneficiary. After all, “One truth is clear: Whatever is, is right” (10.292).

Works Cited

Pope, Alexander. “An Essay on Man.” Eds. Paul Davis, et al. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature. Book 4. Boston: Edford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 260-267. Print.

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Fortasse, Pope, Idcirco Nulla Tibi Umquam Nupsit (The Rape of the Lock)

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Alexander Pope is known for his scathing but intelligent critiques of high English society. His acclaimed poem The Rape of the Lock does support female passivity and subordination in marriage; however, the fact that they are endorsed in Pope’s satirical world demonstrates his detestation of these ideas, and more importantly, of the society (comprised of both males and females) that upholds these conventions.

In many aspects Belinda is infantilized; her judgment and intelligence reduced to that of a child and subject to an authority figure of some sort. For example, Pope writes: “Some secret truths, from learned pride concealed/ To maids alone and children are revealed” (ROTL 1.37-38). Here, the “learned pride” represents the men, who, for all their erudition, are not privy to the existence of the chimerical creatures. Women, however, are not above believing in the machinery because they are nave as children are. Her “ideas crowd a vacant brain,”(ROTL 1.83) suggesting that she is not capable of any substantial considerations, certainly not anything transcending her “infant thought[s]”(ROTL1.29). Later, she is depicted as juvenile and unreasonable during her crying fit, while the Baron is heroic, surpassing even Aeneas in steadfastness for his refusal to return the lock of hair (ROTL 5.5).

Another way she is compared to a child is her inability to fend for herself and thus needing the Sylphs, who “guard the purity of melting maids” (ROTL 1.71). Belinda was “claimed” (ROTL 1.105) by Ariel, which demonstrates how the woman is not only objectified by the men she encounters, but by the Sylphs as well. Although it is specified that their sex is interchangeable, Ariel, the Sylph chiefly responsible for Belinda’s well-being, is identified as a male with the masculine pronoun “he” (ROTL 1.115, etc.). By defining Ariel as a man, Pope places Belinda under the care of yet another virile figure.

An important aspect of the child/woman comparison is that the ignorance is attributed to innocence. This is meant to demonstrate the virtue and sexual purity a woman was expected to possess, but this wholesomeness is undermined throughout the poem by the repeated suggestions of Belinda’s sexual desire and even the satiation of this desire. First, the poet describes how a “birthnight beau…even in slumber caused her cheek to glow.” (ROTL 1.23-24) This hints at sexual desire so potent within Belinda that she cannot escape it while sleeping. Pope’s discussion of female desire extends to the root of it and the facility by which a man can incite it. For example, in Canto 1, Lines 86-90 Pope writes:

And in soft sounds, ‘your Grace’ salutes their ear

‘Tis these that early taint the female soul,

Teach infant cheeks a bidden blush to know,

And little hearts to flutter at a beau.”

The lines suggest that flattery “taints” the female soul from youth. Additionally, their blushing cheeks and fluttering hearts denote the awakening of their passions. Belinda’s yearning is mostly fiercely attacked in lines 105-110. Here Pope juxtaposes her honor to a brocade. This implies that her worldly goods (a brocade was usually made of rich fabric and were very expensive) were esteemed on the same level as her nobility. Next, it indicates that her honor would be as easy to stain as an article of clothing. The point that Pope makes in his mentions of female desire is that attention is sought more than sexual gratification. For instance, Belinda is described as having “a thirst of fame” (ROTL 3.25) when she sits to play ombre with the knights. Pope’s use of sexually charged vocabulary (“thirst”, “invites”, and “burns”) implies that her attention mongering is as satisfying as a sexual experience.

The act of cutting the lock itself is the greatest statement on female compliance. The Baron is glorified for acting in the name of love in Canto Two, lines 30-34:

He saw, he wished, and to the prize aspired.

Resolved to win, he meditates the way.

By force to ravish, or by fraud betray;

For when success a lover’s toil attends,

Few ask if fraud or force attained his ends.

The diction in these lines demonstrates how the Baron saw Belinda as a trophy to be won by any means. Later, he boasts of his conquest, claiming that “so long [his] honor, name, and praise shall live!” (ROTL 4.169) Although the act is not worthy of the uproar expressed in the mock epic, it would be contestable even in modern times. Instead of facing any retribution, he was exculpated from the opening lines of the poem when his motives for the assault are explained to be no stranger than those that “Could make a gentle belle reject a lord” (ROTL 1.9-10) Belinda cements the notion in her last speech when she voices the notion that “she who scorns a man must die a maid” (ROTL 5.28). The assumption in these lines is that a woman is obligated to accept any man that courts her without regard to her personal preferences and that it is dishonorable to die without a husband. Both ideas weaken the woman because they undercut the possibility of an independent woman being socially acceptable in their society. It is here that the reader realizes that the roles of victim and perpetrator are switched and Belinda will assume culpability for everything that happens to her.

Pope makes a strong statement about the role of women in The Rape of the Lock, but it is important to consider that the statement is not encouraging the behavior and standards he presents; rather he condemns those who maintain those conventions. He is not attacking women in general; he is attacking the kind of woman he describes in the mock epic (and probably the kind of woman that rejected him.)

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Allusion and Its Effects in Pope and Johnson

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In some eighteenth century works, the emphasis on alluding to and drawing inspiration from the past proved to be one of the most effective methods in composing a satirical piece. Appearing in two forms, Juvenal or Horatian, a satire is “a poem, or in modern use sometimes a prose composition, in which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule” (Drabble). Alexander Pope’s The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace Imitated alludes to the past as well as the present in a piece representative of Horatian satire. Serving as the example of Juvenalian satire is Samuel Johnson’s London: A Poem, In Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal. The significance of the allusions present in both pieces is central to understanding the overall intention of each satire.

Alexander Pope’s The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace Imitated, published in London in 1733, is Pope’s endeavor to defend himself and his satirizing works, by writing yet another satire (Pope 1-14). In the poem, he defends himself by alluding to some of his previous victims and subjects, declaring satire to be the truth as well as his guilty pleasure and if he ceased to write he would “think/ and for my Soul I cannot sleep a wink/…Fools rush into my head, and so I write” (Pope 29). Writing, particularly of the follies and vices of others is his primary passion. The poem is written as a dialogue between Pope and a friend who acts as his “council learned in the Law” and as Pope justifies his satire, the friend attempts to convince him of the dangers of his writing (Pope 27). Having the piece written as a dialogue allows the reader a chance to hear an outsider’s opinions as the text jumps from the friend’s main concerns followed by Pope’s justifications. Incorporating dialogue between Pope and another into the poem adds an extra dimension to it by allowing the reader to place themselves into the text as a second character in the dialogue.

The controversial nature of his allusions and subjects are the source of the displeasure towards his poems. Arguably, the “precise question is whether Pope’s verses constitute satire or libel” (Maresca 366). Is he merely making a mockery of those included in his works, or is he in fact guilty of slander against them? Pope defends his earlier works, referencing when he wrote satires that seemed “too bold/ Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough/ And something said of Chartres much too rough” (Pope 27). Pope affirms he wrote satire and not libel since both references were to guilty men, thus Pope “undermines the charge of libel in the very act of presenting it by referring to his attacks” (Maresca 367). Pope believes he is not guilty of libel when the words he wrote were that of public opinion.

He satirizes the traditional poets methods of writing merely for the pleasure and satisfaction of others such as the poet “Sir Richard, rumbling, rough and fierce/ With Arms and George, and Brunswick crowd the Verse”, who writes what Pope considers to be shallow poetry written purely for the affections of royalty (Pope 29). Pope refers to what he sees as lesser poets thus providing an example to further defend that he must be the one to satirize the truth otherwise no one will. The friend encourages Pope to use his poetry to “Let Carolina smooth the tuneful Lay/ Lull with Amelia’s liquid Name the Nine/ And sweetly flow through all the Royal Line” because in immortalizing the royal family he has the greater possibility of immortalizing his own writing (Pope 31). Pope writes poetry in order to give insight into the human condition and to uncover the flaws that exists in everyone. When comparing Pope’s satire to Horace’s original, and in regards to writing poetry for the glorification of royalty, Pope’s and Horace’s “excuse for not writing heroic poetry is literally true of them; their talents are insufficient” (Maresca 386). Pope deems royalty unworthy of such immortalization without just cause.

Pope further alludes to the past when professing his dedication to remaining honest and true in his works:

My Head and Heart thus flowing thro’ my Quill,

Verse-man or Prose-man term me which you will,

Papist or Protestant, or both between,

Like good Erasmus in an honest Mean. (Pope 33)

Erasmus was one of the great sixteenth-century scholars, known for a number works including translations of the Bible and classics that helped revolutionize European literary culture (Drabble). In alluding to Erasmus, Popes draws a comparison between himself and another great intellectual. Erasmus authored The Praise of Folly in 1511 which satirized church dignitaries and theologians (Drabble). Erasmus satirized others and was still considered ‘good’ and ‘honest’, traits which Pope himself wishes he and his satires can be associated with as well. Pope draws from the past in order to compare and relate them both with one another, allowing for the association to positively impact Pope’s own reception with his readers.

Pope further defends his use of satire in the lines:

I only wear it in a Land of Hectors,

Thieves, Supercargoes, Sharpers, and Directors,

Save but our Army! and let Jove incrust

Swords, Pikes, and Guns, with everlasting rust! (Pope 35)

Pope has alluded to the past as well as the present here in order to defend his satire. He uses satire against the “Land of Hectors/ Thieves, Supercargoes, Sharpers, and Directors” who represent the “corrupt and vice-ridden England” that exists in the present (Maresca 390). His inclusion of the government arises from his use of the term “Minister” which “emphasizes the fact that the court is principally responsible for the disorder of England and so indirectly responsible for Pope’s compulsion to write satire” (Maresca 391). Pope cleverly brings the satire full circle in claiming those who criticize his use of it are the sources of his material for writing it. His ultimate defense is that he must write it. Along with these present allusions, Pope’s use of “Jove” alludes to the the ancient Roman god, also known as Jupiter. Jove is the king of the gods, and the allusion to him emphasizes the power Pope places in the notion of peace. He asks for peace in asking Jove to destroy the weapons of their armies, in the same way he asks for peace from his readers.

Samuel Johnson’s London: A Poem, In Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal was published in London of 1738 (Johnson 1). This poem employs Juvenal satire to express Johnson’s disappointment and disgust over the present state of his beloved city of London. As Pope did, Johnson also alludes to the past and the present, though since the poem is Juvenal satire, the allusions are less playful and more abrasive and critiquing (Drabble). Having the poem be an imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal immediately associates the poem with the past. In constructing his poem this way, each line though different from the original, still bears some connection to it. The structures and ideas within the lines of Johnson’s London were written in a manner reflective of the original, bringing the past to his new poem.

Within the first stanza of the poem Johnson emphasizes the poor state of London:

I praise the Hermit, but regret the Friend,

Who no resolves, from Vice and London far,

To breathe in distant Fields a purer Air,

And, fix’d on Cambria’s solitary Shore,

Give to St David one true Briton more. (Johnson 3)

His use of the phrase “from Vice and London far” presents the reader with the association between vice and London essentially equating one with the other. London has become so corrupt and broken that it is nearly synonymous with the term vice. Even a “true Briton” can no longer take up residence there, seeking relief where there is a “purer Air” (Johnson 3). His use of “true Briton” to describe the personae of the speaker, Thales, in the poem implies a strong sense of pride, but even that pride is not powerful enough to make one stay in London. Thales acts as “a stereotype of the good man ‘harass’d’ by the vileness of his city…[who] must endure the agony of exile in order to survive as a ‘foe to vice’” (Bloom 116). Johnson draws such a critical distinction between Thales and the vice-ridden Londoners. In presenting the image of this fractured London, Johnson reveals how society has “in itself the elements of its own destruction, an enemy within which will subvert and betray it” (Varney 204). When Johnson asks “For who would leave, unbrib’d, Hibernia’s Land/ Or change the Rocks of Scotland for the Strand” he draws subtle allusions of the past in using more classical names Cambria and Hibernia to refer to Wales and Ireland (Johnson 4). These more classical terms imply a sense of history or the overall passing of time.

Some of the most powerful allusions to the past are included in the third stanza of the poem:

Struck with the Seat that gave Eliza Birth,

We kneel, and kiss the consecrated Earth;

In pleasing Dreams the blissful Age renew,

And call Brittannia’s Glories back to view;

Behold her Cross triumphant on the Main,

The Guard of Commerce, and the Dread of Spain. (Johnson 5)

The suggestion of the “consecrated Earth” where Queen Elizabeth was born brings up what is considered one of the greatest reigns of England. Elizabeth I ruled from 1558 to 1603, and during her successful reign was immortalized in countless works of literature and art (Drabble). Her inclusion in the poem draws a clear distinction between the present London of Johnson’s poem, and London back in its days of greater glory. In alluding to Elizabeth I Johnson begs the reader to consider the seriousness of his poem in forcing the reader to make their own comparisons between London of the present and the past.

Since the poem refers to one of the most renowned political figures of England, it draws a stark contrast between past and current administrations. Politics has a heavy hand in influencing London and many of the downfalls Johnson see within it. London “reflected and contributed to the volatile political atmosphere of 1738 and its popularity was undoubtedly bolstered by its fiercely engage content and tone”, thus making it one of Johnson’s most publicized works (Varney 203).

Further emphasis on the political issues in London in 1738 are brought up as Johnson asks readers to “call Britannia’s Glories back to view/ Behold her Cross triumphant on the Main/ The Guard of Commerce, and the Dread of Spain” (Johnson 5). Looking to the past is necessary to comprehend Johnson’s insistence that London is rapidly falling apart. When compared to “Britannia’s Glories” of the past, London in 1738 appears in even greater shambles. He reminds readers of the days when the English army was triumphant and defeated the Spanish Armada, drawing another comparison to its present lack of victories. The depth of Thales’ pain for London’s downfall is evident as he “is more shaken by the world he decries and may even have taken on something of its fated and self-destructive character. He is more a product of the world he lives in and less independent” (Varney 205). This description reveals the level of involvement of Thales, how unbearable and destructive the nature of things are. If London falls, all of its people will fall with it. Johnson cannot stress the importance enough.

The allusions used by Pope and Johnson serve primarily to add a new dimension and depth to their satires, whether Horatian or Juvenal. Drawing from the past in order to make a point about the present proves a successful means for each. In his First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, Pope defends himself over his use of satire. He sharply defends himself where others have found reason to critique him, not for the quality of his writing, but for his subjects. In his writing Pope believes in “the virtuous intent of his satire, and points out that under other kings satirists, not flatterers, had been rewarded with royal favor” (Maresca 391). Pope alludes to Erasmus to bring similarities between the two of them, with the hopes of receiving the same respect Erasmus received. Drawing from the past brings an element of time to the work. Pope connects the past and present, almost questioning why Erasmus was so well received for his satire while Pope is so harshly judged. This all relies on the distinction between satire and libel, and in walking the fine line between the two, Pope is making himself subject to such criticisms.

Johnson’s efforts to draw inspiration and allusion from the past seems to have a greater and more profound effect upon his work than on Pope’s. His allusions come from a variety of areas whether historical, political, mythological, or cultural. In order to emphasize the social and political issues occurring in London in 1738, he takes advantage of these allusions to stress the changes that have changed London from the most wonderful city, to a decrepit and fallen city. He uses historical political figures such as Elizabeth I and Edward III to remind prideful Londoners of the glory their nation once possessed. In addition to reminiscing about better days, he reveals what he believes are the problems with London at present- from vanity, to poverty, to shame, and all the vices employed therein. London is such a success “not just because of the accuracy, mordancy, and poetic brilliance with which Johnson has suited Juvenal’s satire…but because Johnson fuses with his public satire a deeply impassioned presentation of the mind in distress” (Varney 204). Johnson’s Thales is so passionate about the city he loves that it effects his actual being; it is not just about the city of London, but of the physical and emotional state of Londoners themselves. He possesses a strong love for London, even in its current troubled state, and his words serve to reignite such spirit in his fellow Londoners.

Works Cited

Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D Bloom. “Johnson’s London and Its Juvenalian Texts”. Huntington Library Quarterly 34.1 (1970): 1-23. JSTOR. Web. 9 November 2011.

Drabble, Margaret, and Jenny Stringer. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. eBook.

Johnson, Samuel. London: A Poem, In Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal. London, 1738. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 9 November 2011.

Maresca, Thomas E. “Pope’s Defense of Satire: The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, Imitated”. ELH 31.4 (1964): 366-394. JSTOR. Web. 9 November 2011.

Pope, Alexander. The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, Imitated. London, 1733. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 9 November 2011.

Varney, Andrew. “Johnson’s Juvenalian Satire On London: A Different Emphasis”. The Review of English Studies 40.158 ( May 1989): 202-214. JSTOR. Web. 9 November 2011.

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