Jonathan Swift’s Writing Style
According to critics, Jonathan Swift’s writing style has three characteristics, which are mockery, details and panegyric writing. Harold Weber explains, “Swift’s verse technique and the way in which he achieves his poetic effects, the disagreement over the value of Swift’s varied satiric masks” (448). Weber defines Swift’s use of mockery as a satiric mask recurring in as self-amusement in his literary works. Thomas Gilmore speaks of, “the dominant effect of a number of details” (36). He explains Swift’s use of enumerated details enhances the message his literary works are evoking. Donald C. Mell describes Swift’s writing as, “mistakenly interpreted as praise the deliberately parodic panegyric” (313). Donald C. Mell perceives Swift’s writing style as deliberate use of falsified praise. These characteristics are evident in the following three samples of Jonathans Swift’s works: “The Lady’s Dressing Room,” “A Satirical Elegy of the Death of a Late Famous General,” and “A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed.” To begin, all three works by Jonathan Swift demonstrate critique of mockery. The poem “The Lady’s Dressing Room” has three examples of this writing style. The title of the poem, “The Lady’s Dressing Room” (?how to cite?) clearly illustrates the writing style. The title mocks a Lady because the poem describes the filth of a woman, where as the title refers to classic stereotypes of a lady. The beginning of the poem states, “Five hours, (and who can do it less in?)” (Line 1). His use of punctuation mocks the subject of his poem. A last example is, “Which Celia slept at least a week in?”(54). Once again, Jonathan Swift’s use of punctuation sets a tone of mockery. The second poem “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General” has three examples of critique one. A first example is found within the title, “A Satirical Elegy of the Death of a Late General” (??). The title demonstrates mockery by using controversial terms, Satirical and Elegy; Satirical implies sarcastic, funny, dark humor, whereas elegy depicts of a serious reflection before death. Another sample of Jonathan Swift’s writing style is: His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all! (1-4)
His use of recurring exclamation and question marks mocks the death of a warrior. A final example from this poem is, “He left behind so great a stink” (16). Jonathan Swift mocks the remains of the general as a foul stench. Finally, the third poem, “A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed” has three examples of this writing style. Jonathan Swift writes, “Her flubby dugs and down they drop” (22). Mockery is evident by use of insult when Jonathan Swift uses the trait flabby. A second example is, “Corinna wakes. A dreadful sight! /Behold the ruins of the night!” (57-59). Jonathan Swift mocks Corinna by dramatizing a ridiculous situation and using exclamation marks. Later in the poem it says, “Corinna in the morning dizened/ Who see’s, will spew; who smells, be poison’d” (73-74). This mocks Corinna’s feminity because he explains her to be dizened, which is tasteless dressing and degrades her image and scent. Clearly, Harold Weber rightly critiqued Jonathan Swift’s writing style by pointing to the use of mockery. Furthermore, all three works by Jonathan Swift demonstrates Thomas B. Gilmores critique of his use of details. The poem, “The Lady’s Dressing Room” has three examples of Jonathan Swift’s use of details. This poem enumerates, “Sweat, dandruff, powder, lead and hair” (24). This list of qualities that describe a hairbrush is indication of the use of detail. Jonathan Swift writes, “And up exhales a greasy stench/ For which you curse the careless wench” (107-108). He uses adjectives such as, greasy and careless to detail his description of the wench. A final example of his writing style is apparent...
Cited: Weber, Harold. “Comic And Tragic Satire In Swift’s Poetry.” Studies in English Literature Vol.23, No.3 (Jun., 2001): 447-464. Literary Reference Center. Web. 28 February 2013.
Gilmore, B. Thomas. “The Comedy of Swift’s Scatological Poems.” PMLA Vol. 91, No. 1 (Jan., 1976): 33-43. JSTOR. Web. 4 March 2013.
Mell, C. Donald, Jr. “Irony, Poetry, and Swift: Entrapment in ‘On Poetry: A Rapsody’.” Papers on Language & Literature Vol.18, No.3 (Nov., 2002): 310-324. Literary Reference Center. Web. 4 March 2013.
Swift, Jonathan. “A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed.” The Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation 2013. Web. 28 February 2013.
----- “A Satirical Elegy of the Death of a Late Famous General.” The Poetry Foundation. . Poetry Foundation 2013. Web. 28 February 2013.
----- “The Lady’s Dressing Room.”The Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation 2013. Web. 28 February 2013.
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