Pope as a Satirist

Topics: Satire, Literature, Literary genre Pages: 7 (2406 words) Published: October 19, 2012
Satire is a literary genre, usually meant to be funny. The word ‘Satire’ was defined by Richard Garnett as, The expression in adequate terms of the sense of amusement or disgust excited by the ridiculous or unseemly, provided the humour is a distinctly recognized element and the utterance is inverted with literary form. Without humour satire is invective, without literary form, it is mere clownish jeering. (Encyclopedia Britannica 14th ed. vol. 20 p. 5) Satire is defined by Long as, “a literary work which searches out the faults of men or institutions in order to hold them up to ridicule” (Gupta: 28). Then according to Applebee, Satire is a literary technique in which behaviors or institutions are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society. What sets satire apart from other forms of social and political protest is humor. Satirists use irony and exaggeration to poke fun at human faults and foolishness in order to correct human behavior. (584) The greater purpose of satire is criticizing the norms society in a useful manner using wit as a weapon, and thus paves a way for social improvement. Based on the view of Dryden, the true purpose of satire is, “the correction amendment of vices by correction” (Satire Quotes). Basically, satire is of two kinds, personal and impersonal satire; the personal satire is short lived, has only little permanency and is targeted towards the individual, and so the effect of the personal satire is in the hands of the master; whereas the impersonal satire has wider range, the target is universal rather than the individual, and provides finest achievements when compared to the personal tragedy. Satire is as old as literature, and the Romans like Persius, Horace and Juvenal were the great satirists, who first lay down the principles of satire and how it made its own fashion in literature. Horace in his work satires the human race, Persius reveals angry in his portrayal of man, and Juvenal is cynical in his approach, because he hates and dislikes mankind. Though Pope’s satire is similar to Horace in terms of tone, sometimes his criticism is filled with anger, critical, and strong hate like that of Juvenal. During the middle ages, church and women become the objects of satire. This type of satire can be seen in the works of Langland and Chaucer, William Langland in his narrative poem Plowman’s Tales attack the immortal clergies of his times, and Geoffrey Chaucer too in his collection of stories The Canterbury Tales resist opposition against the clergy and the woman. The Elizabethan Age criticizes angrily and makes fun at the Puritans and the women. The political satire was born during the age of Milton. Samuel Butler in his satirical poem Hudibras satirizes the dishonourable behaviour of his age; the poem was very popular in its time and stays as a best piece of its kind before the age of Dryden. The age of Enlightenment, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, produced a great popularity of satire in Britain, and the emotion of these satires were stirred up by the rise of partisan politics. The then century writers such as Dryden, Swift and Pope satirize their personal and political enemies, and moreover their satires rise from the personal level to the impersonal level. These writers transform the competing attitude between politics and literary into true satire and present a picture of foolishness and immortal behaviour of the people living during their age in the society. Satire is common to all human beings, the satire continues as long as man continues to be imperfect. The form of the satire may change, and the quality and strength of a satire may have piercing or frank and direct effect based on the demands of that time. Alexander Pope’s poetry is either satirical in tone or it have the greatest power of satire, moreover satire is an essential feature of Pope’s poetry. The Rape of the Lock, Dunciad, Moral Essays, and Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated are the best...
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