28 August 2014
An Essay on Criticism
Alexander Pope engraved his name in history by proving that the pen is mightier than the sword. Due to him being a Roman Catholic, he was unable to attend University, vote, or hold office. To add on to that, Pope was plagued with poor health from birth, suffering from tuberculosis of the bone. Pope wouldn’t let these barricades stop him from becoming the writer he knew he could be and was encouraged by his father to be. At the age of 23, Pope wrote his first striking poetic piece, An Essay on Criticism. Intrigued by his essay, I wondered if what he had to say might hold true today, and whether Pope’s words could/should play a part in how we judge things today.
Pope’s An Essay on Man is divided up into three parts. Of those three parts, two are in our textbook. Of those two parts, one is dedicated to describing how critic’s criticism can be unjustified and harmful to the creator. The second part describes the birth of poor judgment, naming pride and, from what I can tell, ignorance as the culprit parents of a poor critic. In Pope’s time, the most commonly judged works were literature. Poems, plays, novels, and other readable sources were the mainstream source of entertainment back then. Today, we have a different type of visual media; we watch as oppose to read. TV shows, movies, and Internet videos are our main source of visual entertainment in these times. Music is also another large source of entertainment and probably an even bigger platform for judgment and criticism if you consider all the different genres and people’s large variety of taste in music. In Lines 17-18, Pope says, "Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true, /But are not critics to their judgment too?” I took this to mean that while authors may not always be putting out gold or writing the next groundbreaking piece, critics aren't always the ones to say what the next groundbreaking piece is, or whether it is even good or not. Critics can have biased opinions by human nature and will not like some things no matter how good they are in their own respects. In Lines 21-22 Pope says, "Nature affords at least a glimmering light," meaning the author has some internal sense of direction with what they're doing. "The lines, though but touched faintly, are drawn right." I felt like this meant that through informal skill and some ignorance, the creator has still managed to put out something worthwhile. Even if it IS bad, it could show some serious signs of potential. To the creator, it may be the best work they've ever done, but if allowed to continue creating, they may look back and wonder what the Hell made them think that was okay to call finished. I can personally relate to this because I’m in a terrible little band and I can remember writing songs that we thought were amazing, awesome, and would rock socks right off the feet of my audiences, but years later, we don’t even play those songs anymore. They are completely scrapped. We never really had any bad criticism, but along the way, we criticized ourselves decided to change direction. I’m not sure if I find criticism to be relevant today. Even back in Pope’s day, a bad critic usually just found themselves satirized in one of Pope’s works. I think criticism is especially ineffective today because I think it used to be a tool people used to find what they should bother paying attention to, but now we have an almost unlimited source of entertainment outlets we can turn to that we’re bound to find something we like. I think today criticism either hurts someone’s feelings or they’ll just curse you out in there head. I think it is more harmful than effective. Shelley Viskovich, a life skills specialist and mind coach, says, “Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it is that, information we realize after something has already happened. We can then use that information for next time but we cannot change or alter what has happened. So...
Cited: Isaksen, Joachim Vogt. "Why Criticism Hurts." Popular Social Science. N.p., 9 July 2013. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
Viskovich, Shelley. "Criticism - Why It 's So Harmful." WellBeing. N.p., 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document