Thesis and Critical Analysis of Pope

Thesis and Critical Analysis of Pope

Directions: Please write a thesis and critical analysis of Pope, 500 words.Decorum

As you may know, this concept refers to keeping a sense of proportion when writing a text, making sure that the diction, tone, content, characterization, and other parts are all appropriate for the whole.  That whole implies an overarching design, a vision of suitable subjects for suitable audiences.  Off the page, decorum can refer to dress and behavior.  Wearing everyday clothes to the opera would be a breach of decorum.  A more startling breach would occur if a servant sat down with the family and their guests at the dinner table.  Though “rules” of decorum are not much observed in present-day society, we still have guidelines about appropriate dress in some situations (especially in the workplace or for job interviews) and for the kind of vocabulary and style to use when writing class discussion posts in contrast to the kind you might use when communicating informally with close friends.

Eighteenth-century society was much more concerned about decorum; it was part of the ongoing effort to restore and maintain order after the Commonwealth.  Decorum did have political, religious, and social aspects.  It reinforced a hierarchical model of the world in which nobles and workers, men and women, had unequal positions and unequal powers, but all were conceptualized as part of a coherent whole that would be otherwise reduced to incoherence.  The concept of Nature was often invoked to describe this designed world:  “Nature” implied a right order, a divinely authorized organization of parts in a whole.Social and Natural Order

The rising middle class valued some notions of proportion, as you can tell from their eagerness to learn appropriate notions and behaviors from Addison and Steele.

Alexander Pope’s early work—especially his Essay on Criticism (not assigned for this class but included in the anthology and familiar to students who are or who have been enrolled in my literary criticism class)—reacted to the social mobility that multiplied the number of poorly prepared (in his view) critics and writers in his society by trying to regulate them.  As you’ll know from the Introduction in the anthology, Pope studied extensively, albeit informally, and believed that anyone who wanted to be a critic or writer should likewise be well versed in traditions and techniques.  His Essay on Criticism explicitly uses “Nature” to stand for a right order, and it offers advice on how to keep all parts of a work in proportion to the whole.

Pope’s subsequent works also pursue a vision of a well proportioned whole, whether in landscaping, politics (his antagonism toward the Whigs may have something to do with a sense of their disrupting rather than restoring order), or human relations.  Biographical criticism might argue that his preoccupation with fitting all into an order came from anxiety about his own difficulties fitting in because of his religion and physical disabilities.  But we need not see Pope as merely projecting his own anxieties or as only nostalgic for a rigid and outdated system.  In more moderate terms, Pope was fascinated with design, with what makes parts add up to a functional whole.  When he looked at “the world’s miscellany” (to use the phrase that the anthology editors use to evoke the variety of the 18th century), he needed to envision it in a structure that would give it meaning.What do ll. 121ff. reveal about Belinda, and how do they do so?

How does the reference to Bibles contribute to the meaning of this passage?

What is the relationship between this passage and the dream?

How does Belinda’s wearing of a cross (l. 7) reveal her values and those of the people worshipping it (l. 8)?

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