Essay on man by alexander pope epistle 2

POPE’S POEMS.

View 1 comment. Before I began reading these poems, I thought these would be just typical satires of the monarchy and filled with aristocratic 'wit'. But far beyond my expectations, these poems took me by surprise. His, "Essay on Man" is a deep meditation of big questions and because it is told through verse, it makes reading it not only profound, but entertaining.

I was particularly in love with his poem, "Rape of the Lock". At times it was silly but it was also filled with beautiful descriptions and metaphors Before I began reading these poems, I thought these would be just typical satires of the monarchy and filled with aristocratic 'wit'. At times it was silly but it was also filled with beautiful descriptions and metaphors.

All in all, I am inspired to go out read the rest of his poems. Apr 09, Abeer Abdullah rated it liked it Shelves: readforclass , wherethesunneversets. This rating is just for Essay On Man , which I love. Dec 13, Daniel rated it really liked it.

Alexander pope essay on man

Background: Pope began working on the poem in and finished it by The first three epistles were published in ; the fourth, in , the year he died. Man as part of a larger, orderly pattern he can never fully comprehend. The two opposing forces of his being: reason and self-love. Offers a survey o Background: Pope began working on the poem in and finished it by Offers a survey of the rise of culture, politics, religion, and society, and shows how mankind came to become the reciprocal and counterbalancing community that it is.

Pope’s Poems and Prose An Essay on Man: Epistle II Summary and Analysis | GradeSaver

Virtue as the only source of genuine human happiness; fame and wealth are false scale by which to judge our happiness. Pope writes that, in the Essay, he will show man in his proper place, as it necessary for him to do this before he can go on to his task of writing on human life and manners. So the goal of the poem, it appears, is to situate man in his context.

Pope claims that his essay offers a consistent system of ethics, a system in which, as will later be expressed, the goodness or badness of an action depends on its degree of conformity to or deviation from Nature respectively. Pope acknowledges that he might have written his philosophical essay in prose, but chose verse because it is more concise and memorable. The Essay on Man is a necessary preliminary to what Pope thinks will be the more pleasing task of writing his other planned poems on human nature.

Epistle 1 — Intro. The poet addresses H. Looking at the labyrinthine scene with its hidden order, we will laugh, mock, and reflect when appropriate. Epistle 1 — 1 Speaker acknowledges the limitations of the human perspective. We can only see a tiny fraction of reality and must deduce larger things from our circumscribed point of view. All of the bodies in the universe are poised in a mutually dependent balance that we cannot discern. Just as the horse will never understand the mind of the man who orders him around, man will never understand the mind of God.

Epistle 1 — 3 We can only see a page in the book of Fate.

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An Essay on Man

God sees all, from tiny atoms and bubbles to massive systems and worlds. The speaker urges us to hope for the afterlife. What causes such presumption is human pride, which makes people aspire above their station. Epistle 1 — 5 The speaker mocks the inconsistent reasoning of proud men who thinks the world is made for them. Epistle 1 — 6 Man ill-advisedly envies the attributes of other animals without realizing that they would be superfluous and even detrimental.

Man fails to realize that his nature is just as it ought to be. Every organ in our body serves its proper function. There would be chaos if the hand aspired to be the head, for instance. The speaker mocks those who, following Science, proudly think all the secrets of the universe can be uncovered. Even Newton is laughably petty when compared to God. Both reason and self-love seek to increase pleasure and reduce pain. Epistle 2 — 3 Both reason and self-love are essential to achieving virtue, as you need some self-love in order to be bold enough to act in the world.

We all have passion, but this passion can be turned to good or bad, depending on whether or not its guided by reason: it can produce a tyrant or a benevolent ruler, say, depending on how its expressed. Epistle 2 — 4 We are driven by competing forces of light and darkness, and often our best deeds are motivated by the darkest impulses. It is difficult to discern where a virtue ends and a vice begins sometimes. Everybody has a combination of both. Almost no one is purely one or the other. We are mixed creatures. Every virtue has its flipside. Epistle 2 — 5 The speaker then launches into a discussion of vice, in which he notes that none of us are wholly evil.

Epistle 2 — 6 All of us have a combination of virtue and vice. Vices might initially seem to be negative, and they are to the individual who bears them, but they serve an important role in creating overall balance in the world. He describes how even on the microscopic level of individual atoms, particles depend on one another to form matterNature has a system of checks and balances, so to speak, to maintain harmony and order.

We may have control over animals, but higher powers have control over us. Epistle 3 — 3 This section focuses on reproduction and progeny: the fusing and dissolving bonds between species when they mate and their offspring. Humans are tied to their children by more permanent bonds.

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Man feels indebted and connected to preceding and future generations, too. Epistle 3 — 4 Speaker recalls an idealized primitive man, who did not live by plunder and murdering other animals.


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  • An Essay on Man, by Alexander Pope?
  • Quotes from Epistle II, Essay on Man by Alexander Pope.

This eventually came to an end, when men become more savage. The speaker invokes a scene where Nature instructed man to model his art, society, agriculture, medicine, and government off of her creatures. At first there is no King, and gradually monarchy develops.

More important that the particular government or religion of a nation is the spirit of charity toward one another. Self love is transformed into social love, because in trying to improve our own lives we must necessarily improve the lives of others. Our importance depends on how useful we are the large numbers of people. So once again, society is a place were individuals depend on one another and contribute to a whole of which they are only a small part.

Epistle 4 — 1 The speaker asks where happiness is to be found, and invalidates the idea that happiness is linked with any particular state or condition. Neither the rich nor the learned necessarily know the way to happiness. Epistle 4 — 2 Happiness, we learn, follows from knowing your proper place in the grand scheme of things and not trying to overstep your bounds; this means realizing that you, as an individual, are intimately bound up with the lives of other individuals.

We can only be truly happy when linked, in some way, to other people.

02 Epistle II An Essay on Man Alexander Pope

Epistle 4 — 3 Happiness lies with peace, health, and happiness. Epistle 4 — 4 Historical calamities happened for a reason. The ridiculousness of thinking God will alter the principles that govern reality for particular individual. Epistle 4 — 5 It is not for us to say who is good or bad, but whoever the good are, they are the only people who are truly happy.

Epistle 4 — 6 Riches can only make the virtuous happy. Differences of circumstance are negligible compared to the only meaningful difference between different men: the difference between virtue and vice. Having a noble lineage is worthless if you yourself are not noble in character. The only noble thing to do is pursue noble goals through noble means, even if it means death. The speaker cites Marcus Aurelius and Socrates as examples of genuine wisdom. Then the reader goes on to diminish the importance of fame, which is inconsequential and is usually totally unrelated to virtue.

Being rich or famous comes with as much distress and being poor and obscure, unless you have virtue. Epistle 4 — 7 Happiness exists in virtue alone and following God and nature.