Review of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man Epistle

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George Washington University
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Alexander Popes Essay on Man is a poetry work studied at different schools both in England and Europe continent. Popes poems represent an effort by Pope to inform a man that he is part of a wider greater design of the world. He achieves this by use of a philosophical point of view whereby he compares man to nature. The thoughtful poem consists of four verse epistles published at different times. The bookseller who carried out the publication of these four epistles was not previously associated with Alexander Pope. In the past, the word epistle was used to refer to a formal letter written y an anonymous person to a specific person with the intentions of communicating a particular idea or information.

The author of the poem had initially conceived the epistles idea and wanted to write the epistles as a philosophical explanation of mortality experience in the society. Nevertheless, after careful consideration, he instead decided to focus his attention on educating the man on the will of God and human nature. He was concerned about the continued struggle of man to understand the universe. Man according to Pope was inferior to question God. The poet employs a majestic declamatory style, choice of words and a plot to present his arguments. This essay will discuss the language used y the author to present his arguments to the readers. This will be achieved by closely focusing narrowly on a short passage; lines 216-229 of the poem.

First, the poet employs the use of keywords in the passage which carry specific meaning. These words stand out in the passage, and the reader is more likely to re-read them. Words such as blindness (219) are used to show the state which the man is to the issues that are happening in the society. Mortal hour (223) is a phrase used by the poet to indicate the urgency in which man should observe the universal order and gradation. From the use of such a sentence, the reader can follow the global rule and gradation particularly apparent in the hierarchy of earthly creatures which are considered to be subordinate to man.

Secondly, the poet is keen on the use word order, more specifically the use of rhyme. Rhyme refers to the repetition of similar sounds in a poem. The poet utilizes the use of repetition of rhyme at the end of consecutive lines in the poem. This kind of verse is referred to as end rhyme. An example in the poem on the line X. Cease, then, nor order imperfection name (216), Our proper bliss depends on what we blame (217) and know thy point: this kind, this due degree (218). The end words in each of the sentences; name, blame, and degree all have similar sounds. The poet employs rhyme to ensure that the reader pays exceedingly close attention to the specific issues that he is trying to address while at the same time enjoying the art. Lack of rhyme in the poem would lead to loss of interest y the reader which in turn would lead to poor understanding of the issues that the poet was articulating.

Thirdly, the poet employs the use of figurative language in the passage to aid understanding of the issues that he his articulating. The use of figurative language often plays a crucial role n expanding the meaning of the passage while at the same time condensing the language used in the passage. In the passage, the poet uses the phrase All nature is art (224). This is an example of the use of figurative language. This is referred to as imagery. The poet compares nature to art. The comparison is meant to ensure that the reader understands how diverse and wide nature is. Just like art, which is broad enough and cannot be fully covered, nature cannot be fully understood by the human. Therefore, the man should not be drawn towards the evils of vice which are common in the world. Everything that exists plays a role in Gods divine plan. Therefore, the man should not presume to question Gods greater design.

Lastly, the poet use of a voice that is directed to the addressee is another literary figure that contributes t the overall understanding of the poem by the reader. The poet is the speaker in the poem. The lines All nature is bur art, unknown to thee (225) and All chance, direction, which thou canst not see (226) indicate that the poem is directed to an addressee whom cannot see the how dynamic and wide nature is. The use of this kind of literary figure is with the aim of ensuring that the reader can understand that though the issues being presented are happening in the world, it would take more than just a pure effort to observe and understand.

In conclusion, Pope employs different words, phrases, literary figures to communicate an idea that a God of infinite wisdom exits. Everything that happens, happens for the best according to the poem. However, man cannot control nature nor should he presume to question God. It is impossible for man to fully understand life. According to Pope, the reason as to why man cannot understand nature is because he is part of it. Man does not possess the intellectual capacity to comprehend Gods order outside of his own experience. Pope considers man to have limited intellect. Therefore, man can only understand a small portion of nature, i.e., Gods wonder. He views a man as just a mere component of a more comprehensive design by God.

Work cited

Pope, Alexander. An essay on man. Princeton University Press, 2016.

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