Pope's Essay on Man

Topics: God, Universe, Omnipotence Pages: 7 (2871 words) Published: April 13, 2014



Alexander Pope was an 18th century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. Pope was catholic but Essay on Man is not a religious poem, it is a philosophical piece of work, written in heroic couplets and published between 1732 and 1734. It was a piece of work that Pope intended to make into a larger one, however, he did not live to complete it {1}. The heroic couplets consist of rhyming like made up of five iambs {2}. This refers to Pope’s desire to produce a respectable and idealistic work. He wrote this poem to prove the existence of God’s way to Man and to convince Man in the chance of self- perfection. An Essay on Man is divided in four epistles each of which examines the nature and state of man, with the respect to the universe( epistle I); with respect to himself, as an individual( epistle II); with respect to society( epistle III); and with respect to happiness( epistle IV). In my work I will discuss Pope’s epistle I of Nature and state of Man, with respect to the universe, by analyzing each section. Here I will represent my point of view over this epistle. Pope begins the poem with an introduction (1-16) addressed to his friend St. John, Lord of Bolingbroke. Pope addresses a message to him and urges him to wake up and to leave “all meaner things” behind, and rather to embark on Pope’s quest to “vindicate the ways of God to Man”. It is time to acknowledge the world, the universe, which is all around. This is an invitation for a man to return to Mother Nature, to explore “a mighty maze” where everything seems to be in chaotic but beautiful order. In the introduction of the poem, the author takes us back to the Biblical beginning, where in heaven Garden first Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, “forbidden fruit” of good and evil. Author’s words refer not only to his friend, but to all who “blindly creep, or sightless soar…”. That means to open our eyes and souls to the world of nature and to be frank to other people and to ourselves. According to the author unknown {7}, we see Pope wandering about the fruitlessness of life. Pope does not think this complex of existence is “without a plan”. Man might sort through the maze because he has the ability of reason, and can determine the nature in which he lives. The first section of the poem (17-34) argues that man can only understand the universe with regard to human systems and constructions because he is ignorant of the greater relationship between God’s creations {3}. Here Pope enters the idea of hierarchy on earth created by God. In this hierarchy God is above all, above the man. Pope also introduces to the reader the idea, that we are not alone in the universe, that there are many planets and suns (24-26). This idea of existence of many sun systems, gives the motive for human beings at that time, and after that time, to respect the universe, because we are one little piece of a gigantic puzzle. In this section Pope emphasizes the ignorance of the men to the relations of system and things. Perhaps, one of the reason of composing this letter to mankind, is to open their, and probably our, minds to see the things as they are. God creates the man and he is considered as perfect creature on Earth. But here in this section the man is not viewed as imperfect, he is suited in his right place in the general order of things. The second section states that man is imperfect, but perfectly suited to this place within the hierarchy of creation {3}. Here Pope makes reference to “Presumptuous Man”. Not everybody can immediately figure out all of the mysteries with which he is presented. It cannot be expected that man will understand the whole system and his role in the hierarchy order of the world. In lines 45-48 Pope again marks that man, as human being, is not possible to be...

Cited: {1} www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pope
{2} www.education-portal.com/academy/lesson/alexander-popes-an-essay-on-man-summary-analysis-quize.html#lesson
{3} www.gradesaver.com/popes-poems-and-prose/study-guide/section6
{4} www.elderscrolls.wiki.com/wiki/Book_of_Fate
{5} www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraph#In_Christianity
{6} www.windows2universe.org/mythology/zephyr.html
{7} www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/c/critical-essays/alexander-popes-essay-on-man
{8} www.whats-your-sign.com/bull_symbols.html
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