What is a Literary Analysis
This poem was completed in when Pope was 21 and published two years later. As this represents the beginning of his poetic career, the focus on telling critics to go a bit easy may have been based on his own personal hopes. It certainly acts as a challenge to the old, established order and their rules by suggesting that they may have a negative impact on poetry.
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This turns the idea that wisdom is associated with age on its head. He suggests that age can bring a degree of cynicism and rigidity in thinking, which can prevent the bright lights of innovation and change from emerging and challenging our ideas of beauty or brilliance.
The stanza opens with a analogy comparing literary critics to thirsty hikers. However, Pope encourages them to drink deeper to appreciate to expand their horizons and embrace brilliant innovation. In the fifth line we move onto focusing on young poets. Without this fear they try to achieve the heights, which implies those governed by rules are also limited by them.
The critics on the other hand are bound by the rules and thus constricted from recognising innovative brilliance and achievement. From the eleventh line we examine the state of the critic. Having come to understand and recognise the majesty of Classical poetry, represented by the first mountain of the Alps, they become content and complacent.
They forget that their are many mountains to conquer and in our focus on appreciating the brilliance of the past, we fail to focus on the challenges and opportunities ahead for new achievement and majesty. Language and techniques. We begin with a belter.
This immediately diminishes their education as it does not represent a significant chunk of what there is to be learned and thus they are not fully equipped to be absolute in terms of criticism and adherence to poetic rules. I think it would be fair to say that critics can generally quite rightly be labelled as snobs, but to in what way are they dangerous? Contrast this censure of the critics with the romantic notion of the young poet. The "Essay on Criticism," then, is deliberately ambiguous: Pope seems, on the one hand, to admit that rules are necessary for the production of and criticism of poetry, but he also notes the existence of mysterious, apparently irrational qualities — "Nameless Graces," identified by terms such as "Happiness" and "Lucky Licence" — with which Nature is endowed, and which permit the true poetic genius, possessed of adequate "taste," to appear to transcend those same rules.
The critic, of course, if he is to appreciate that genius, must possess similar gifts. True Art, in other words, imitates Nature, and Nature tolerates and indeed encourages felicitous irregularities which are in reality because Nature and the physical universe are creations of God aspects of the divine order of things which is eternally beyond human comprehension. Only God, the infinite intellect, the purely rational being, can appreciate the harmony of the universe, but the intelligent and educated critic can appreciate poetic harmonies which echo those in nature.
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Because his intellect and his reason are limited, however, and because his opinions are inevitably subjective, he finds it helpful or necessary to employ rules which are interpretations of the ancient principles of nature to guide him — though he should never be totally dependent upon them.
We should note, in passing, that in "The Essay on Criticism" Pope is frequently concerned with "wit" — the word occurs once, on average, in every sixteen lines of the poem.
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This is particularly apparent in the hierarchy of earthly creatures and their subordination to man. Pope refers specifically to the gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, and reason.
Essay on criticism analysis sparknotes
Reason is superior to all. These arguments certainly support a fatalistic world view. God thus has a specific intention for every element of His creation, which suggests that all things are fated. Pope, however, was always greatly distressed by charges of fatalism. The first epistle of An Essay on Man is its most ambitious. His own philosophical conclusions make this impossible. Indeed, eighteenth-century critics saw An Essay on Man as a primarily poetic work despite its philosophical themes.