Pope’s‘Essay on Criticism’
Improvementof human life could be realized through the study of culture. Adetailed study of a culture serves as a storehouse for usefulinnovations and ideas. These details help solve some of the mostpressing issues that a society face. Likewise, the culture, beliefsystems, and the exposure to the arts change the view of peopleconcerning the world. In this paper, an analysis of Pope’s ‘Essayon Criticism’ creates an understanding of how culture affectsliterature. On the other hand, this study also shows how theexamination of art influences people’s beliefs.
Thepoem is broken into three parts. The author begins by explaining howthe literary critics are harmful. He suggests the need for humblenessand care during a critique of a piece of literature (Pope, 2011).According to Pope, severe criticism destroys poetry more than the badwriting of a poem does (Pope, 2011). He portrays a wise critic as theone who is honest, benevolent and is reasonable (Pope, 2011). Thesecond part explains how the critics could dodge bad judgment ofartistic work. He cites pride as the principal way through which thismisconception can be established. Individuals must know theirlimitations and faults to avoid this challenge while critiquingpoetry (Pope, 2011). Studying well and focusing on the conventionslaid down by the masters of poetry helps scholars analyze a piece ofwork productively (Pope, 2011). However, he argues that avoidance ofenslavement of the scholars by these rules is a necessity. As aresult of this restraint, the analyst can concentrate on the beautyof the poem without being fascinated with the extremes. Lastly, Popealso offers the guidelines and forms of wisdom that critics shouldfollow. He emphasizes the need for studying intensely and humilityfor individuals who seek to critique poetry positively as well assupport nature (Pope, 2011). He reflects on the benefits andchallenges of literary critics and literature since the culture ofGreeks. He says that the understanding of the Romans and Greeks hasbeen lost and is only beginning to appreciate again (Pope, 2011).
AlexanderPope is one of the greatest writers of 17th and 18th Centuries (Pope,2011). His work offers great insight into beliefs and the culturalvalues of the society during this time. Pope’s work was developedduring the Enlightenment era that lasted since 1600 to 1800. Thescholars of this period argued that the universe was testable andknowable. These Enlightenment thinkers also emphasized the value ofreasoning and science. Pope’s ‘Essay on Criticism’ shows howthis era involved cultural changes and new forms of knowledge thatwere developed through numerous criticisms (Pope, 2011).
Useof heroic couplets as a stylistic characteristic is prominent inPope’s ‘Essay on Criticism.’ This style entails writing tworhyming lines in iambic pentameter. This technique is enabled by theuse of an unstressed syllable followed by a syllable that isstressed. This characteristic makes Pope’s work an idealistic andtraditional poetry by giving it a serious tone. On the other hand,Pope concentrates on the theme of humility and informed reasoning.The aspects make the poem very perceptive. The poem emphasizes theneed for an individual to respect and understand others’ opinionsbefore courageously speaking their ideas. This knowledge of truthcould only be achieved through formal rationality and logic. In hislifetime, Pope witnessed the constant turmoil and violence inEngland. The constant indifferences in this country were closelylinked to the holding of philosophical and religious beliefs toostrongly by people (Pope, 2011). Therefore, Pope’s use of the themepotential to reason among all individuals is insightful. Pope’s‘Essay on Criticism’ is still relevant in the world today. Theconcept of constructive critique can be applied to many socialengagements among human beings. Moreover, reasoning and allowingcontributions from followers could be embraced by leaders in theworld today for competent leadership.
It’sirresistible to admire how Pope equates thorough understanding of anaspect to success. The aspect of analyzing issues with reason toavoid the danger associated with severe critiquing greatly interestsme. Although he discusses criticism about poetry, it’s clear thatdetailed examination of elements of specific elements leads to abetter understanding of others. This knowledge may help escapepotential conflicts and contribute to improving human life in oursocieties. It is humans’ nature to judge others people as well astheir opinions. However, if not tackled with humility and reasoning,these judgments could result in trouble.
Whatinterests me about Pope’s work is not the method of criticism butthe implication of elitist politics. The power to criticize is put inthe hands of the individuals who have the level of wit it takes tocritique constructively. This form of wit could only be achievedthrough our embracement of the knowledge of the classics and theendowing the knowledge of nature. The combination of words, thoughts,and subject makes individuals true wits.
Today,although the readers and writers may fail to share Pope’scertainties of taste, some of his principles are still applicable.For example, the poets of 21st Century should embrace Pope’sassertions on the need to follow the rules and structures of poems.The ancient works must serve as the building blocks for reforms thatare introduced in poetry. This work is also useful to theunderstanding of the relationship between criticism and creativity.As Pope suggests, even today, not all critics of politics, artisticwork, and academic literature are qualified and fair.
Basedon Pope’s biography, his assertions could be linked to his lifeencounters during the time as an author. His life exemplifies aperiod in the 18th Century Britain. The political uprisings, dissent,conspiracies, and the movement away from the social norms guided hisworks. He lived during the time of rapid political changes andthrough personal betrayals, which made him use his pen to describethe human dealings. His overzealous nature and personal faults helphim outline the imperfections of the critics. However, the simplicityof his goals allows him to assume the responsibility of socialcriticism and guiding towards understanding the webs of personal andpolitical relationships of the 18th Century as well as the ones thatare relevant today.
Thedeeper knowledge I gained from the analysis of this poem allows me toappreciate the value of criticism. Although this poem disapprovesadverse criticism, it outlines the need for critiquing literature.According to Pope, the only harm comes from critiquing of work thatone doesn’t fully understand. The analysis suggests the importanceof researching on an aspect that an individual intends to questionprior the raising of his/her concerns. Pope’s ‘Essay onCriticism’ is educative, and it can be applied in a wide range ofsectors. The ways on how to quit severe critic outlined in the poemare not limited to the artistic work.
Inconclusion, as evident in the poem, literary critics become harmfulwhen they do not embrace humility and reason. Based on the author’sassertions, an envious critic does a lot of harm to poetry. Thisdamage is considered to be more than the one caused by a bad writer. To avoid bad critiquing an analyst must learn, understand, and followthe rules and conventions of poetry. Pope’s poem utilizes heroiccouplets as a stylistic characteristic to describe the theme ofreason and deep understanding. Respecting others and striving tounderstand them helps create positive criticism. Consequently, thisenhances interpersonal relationships among people and efficientsolutions to various problems.
Pope,A. (2011). An Essay on Criticism: Part 2.