However, passion is the king and reason but a "weak queen. Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend. A sharp accuser but a helpless friend!
To this end, the poem addresses the question of human nature and the potential for happiness in relation to the universe, social and political hierarchies, and the individual.
Articulating the values of eighteenth-century optimism, the poem employs a majestic declamatory style and underscores its arguments with a range of conventional rhetorical techniques.
An Essay on Man met with international acclaim upon publication and generated no small share of controversy in ensuing decades. Nearly three hundred years after its publication, the poem generally merits distinction as, in David B. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, who served briefly as secretary of state and prime minister under Queen Anne.
Each of the remaining epistles draws upon this premise, describing potential improvements to some aspect of human nature and society with the implicit understanding that the universe is divinely ordered and essentially perfect. The third epistle addresses the role of the individual in society, tracing the origins of such civilizing institutions as government and the class system to a constant interaction between the selfish motivations and altruistic impulses of individual humans.
The fourth epistle frames the struggle between self-love and love of others in terms of the pursuit of happiness, arguing that any human can attain true happiness through virtuous living, which happens only when selfish instincts yield to genuine expressions of benevolence toward others and God.
Major Themes Throughout the epistles of An Essay on Man Pope surveys such grand themes as the existence of a Supreme Being and the behavior of humans, the workings of the universe and the role of humans in it, and the capacity of government to establish and promote the happiness of its citizens.
Implicitly assuming such Christian notions as fallen man, lost paradise, and a beneficent deity, the poem presents an eclectic assortment of both traditional and current philosophical ideas that attempt to explain the universal characteristics of humankind.
The poem borrows ideas from a range of medieval and renaissance thinkers, although Pope somewhat modifies them to suit his artistic purposes. The underlying theme of the poem is the idea that there exists an ordered universe which possesses a coherent structure and functions in a rational fashion, according to natural laws designed by God.
The description of its structure derives from the metaphysical doctrine of the Great Chain of Being, which explains the fullness and unity of the natural world in terms of a hierarchy that ranges from plants and insects at one end to humans and angels at the other.
As a creation of God, the universe ultimately is a perfect design that appears imperfect to humans because the ability to perceive its order correctly is diminished by pride and intellectual limitations. Pope expresses many of his main ideas regarding human nature in language so indelible and pithy that some phrases from the poem have become commonplace in the English language.
Critical Reception Upon publication, An Essay on Man made Pope the toast of literati everywhere, including his inveterate foes in London, whom he deceived into celebrating the poem, since he had published it anonymously.
These critics determined that its values, despite its themes, were essentially poetic and not coherently philosophical by any means. Widely neglected and relegated to the dustbin of literary history, An Essay on Man has been often perceived as an historical curiosity disconnected from contemporary concerns, literary and otherwise.Pope’s Essay on Man (–34) was a grand systematic attempt to buttress the notion of a God-ordained, perfectly ordered, all-inclusive hierarchy of created things.
But his most probing and startling writing of these years comes in the four Moral Essays (–35), the series of Horatian imitations,. Pope addressed An Essay on Man to Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, who served briefly as secretary of state and prime minister under Queen Anne.
Previously acquainted with Pope by mutual. Home» Best Essays» Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man” Summary and Analysis. Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man” Summary and Analysis Critical analysis of “An Essay on Man” “An Essay on Man,” being well-structured and carefully thought out, has its own history.
Critical Essays Alexander Pope's Essay on Man Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List The work that more than any other popularized the optimistic philosophy, not only in England but throughout Europe, was Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (), a rationalistic effort to justify the ways of God to man philosophically.
The last part of “An Essay on Man” reveals the theme of happiness and virtue. Pope defines happiness as an ultimate end of human existence.
If a person lives in accordance with the rules of God, he is happy, and he understands his function within the divine system. An Essay on Man: Epistle I By Alexander Pope About this Poet The acknowledged master of the heroic couplet and one of the primary tastemakers of the Augustan age, Alexander Pope was a central figure in the Neoclassical movement of the early 18th century.
He was known for having perfected the rhymed couplet form of his idol.