Analysis of essay on man epistle 2

However, Pope's use of the cosmos as a model to teach humanity how to live also reflects the Enlightenment's emphasis on combining rationality with virtue and humility. Although Enlightenment thinkers helped to produce the modern forms of science and reason that greatly changed the natural world, they were also eager to understand the limits of man's knowledge. This characteristic of Enlightenment thinking is particularly clear through An Essay on Man in Pope's frequent emphasis on the importance of living virtuously. Moreover, the fact that he breaks the poem into epistles demonstrates that Pope wrote the poem with the hope that people would approach it personally as if it is a loving piece of writing rather than a strict, didactic poem.

Although the fourth epistle provides a successful conclusion to Pope’s ambitious philosophical project, this section is not without its problems. Perhaps most distressing is Pope’s argument in Section IV, which dismisses man’s concern that too often virtue appears to be punished while vice is rewarded. While this is addressed to an extent in Pope’s discussion of material goods, Pope also asserts that God acts by general and not specific laws which apply to the whole, not individual parts. This suggests that all men are treated exactly equally by God. Experience obviously contradicts this assertion, but so does Pope himself. He declares that to satisfy God’s hierarchical order as well as man’s social order, there must be differences of wealth and rank. He claims that equality of wealth is opposed to God’s ways because it would breed discontent among those who deserve greater wealth and status. Though Pope qualifies this by suggesting redress in Heaven, this disparity of wealth and rank—a part of reality—undermine Pope’s thesis.

Analysis of essay on man epistle 2

analysis of essay on man epistle 2

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