Alexander Pope's Dunciad

Topics: An Essay on Criticism, Race and Ethnicity, Racism Pages: 2 (594 words) Published: November 19, 2012
Alexander Pope wrote a long poem which he called Dunciad. He had no patience with the half learned and the ill-learned. He branded them all dunces and poetasters and made them the theme of his Dunciad. Like Iliad, it was not an epic but a satire wherein he said A little learning is a dangerous thing Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Spring. The problem with such people, said Pope, was not that they did not know much; but that they thought they knew everything. Therefore he advised them to master their subjects thoroughly or abjure them once for all. To think that one knows everything is like living in a fool's paradise. It is a comforting thought as far as it goes, if one can stop with it. But curiously enough one thought leads to another and that sets things moving. Satisfaction leads to arrogance and that opens the Pandora's Box. Arrogance knows no fear, no second thoughts. Discrimination vanishes and with a foolish sense of confidence the arrogant will venture to do anything. Surely, fools tread where angels fear. We know man falls by pride; and therefore the moment he becomes swollen headed, his fall begins. But he will not fall alone. He will cause a disaster; and many an innocent man will go down with him. Like a drowning man he drags with him anyone he can lay hands upon. When you think that you are Mr. Know - all, you will probably begin to act like a No - all. Many an innocent man will believe what you say. If they simply wonder like the rustics who stared at the village pedagogue and wondered how a small head could carry so much, no mischief is done. But if they also believe what you say, they are at once on the wrong side of the fence. Some of the religious fanatics are guilty of such a sin. They do not know what actually a religion is for. They cannot realize that it is for man's good - to bring comfort in moments of sorrow and distress, to guide him in times of illusion and indecision...
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