To a Lady is a poem about the need for women to cultivate a rounded and rational perspective on life in order to overcome the contradictory shortcomings of their nature that, unrestrained by reason, true love, and common sense, can lead to emotional and immoral excesses. As a satire modeled on the casual Horatian verse letter, or epistle, the poem inculcates this theme through ridicule of excessive female types and through closing praise of female norms of right conduct for the edification of female readers.
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 Essay on man epistle 2 theme 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 Poems and Prose Summary and Analysis of An Essay on Man: Epistle II.
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|Navigate Guide||The philosophical poem An Essay on Man consists of four verse epistles, each of which was published separately and anonymously between February and January by a bookseller not previously associated with Pope's writings. 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.|
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The subtitle of the second epistle is “Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to Himself as an Individual” and treats on the relationship between the individual and God’s greater design. Discussion of themes and motifs in Alexander Pope's Epistle II.
To a Lady. eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of Epistle II. To a Lady so you can excel on your essay or. Quinton Clark Professor Cain Int.
Lit. 22 September Theme in An Essay on Man An Essay on Man strives to put into perspective man’s place in this universe, as well as God’s dominion over man/5(1). 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.
Discussion of themes and motifs in Alexander Pope's Epistle II. To a Lady. eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of Epistle II. To a Lady so you can excel on your essay or.
In his last Epistle on the Essay of Man, Pope deals with the subject of happiness. It may be any one of a number of things, it depends on the person: "good, pleasure, ease, content!
whatever thy name.".