18.Th Century Poetry Essay

1403 words - 6 pages

This essay purports to take a close look into some of the poems of Swift and so to drawa conclusion whether Swift has only in his mind to mock people because of their moralperversities and shortcomings when he is writing his satire or,besides doing that,he alsotries to change things within the social framework of the society on the strenght of thecutting effect of his satires.The poems which will be studied is ''Lady's Dressing Room''and ''Verses on the death of Dr.Swift''.Before commencing with the ambitious task of trying to figure out the hidden meaningwhich lays behind his satires,it would make sense to go into the root of the word ''satire''and understand what it means. Satire is defined as a "keen or severe exposure of what inpublic or private morals deserves rebuke''.Swifts describes it as a sort of glass whereinbeholders generally discover everybody's face but their own.In his words:''When...values are at odds with behavior, the satirist tries to bring them back in line again or at least prevent the gap from widening" (Harris 2).This phrase may conduce one intosupposing that one dos not necessarily write satire to degrade or ridicule but also to teachand edify.It is from this ambitious purpose of his that his satiric Works are so conspicuously''disturbing'' and audacious so that he might draw people's attention to the subject he istalking about.Accordingly,the best definition of satire is that it is a literary device which mixes criticicalattitude with humour and wit for the simple reason that humanity may improve.A satireshould more present a remodeling of corrupted institutions and ways of thinking than tryingto be subversive.The best satire does not seek to do harm or damage by its ridicule, unless we speak of damage to the structure of vice, but rather it seeks to create a shock of recognition and to make vice repulsive so that the vice will be extirpated from the person or society under attack or from the person or society intended to benefit by the attack (regardless of who is the immediate object of attack); whenever possible this shock of recognition is to be conveyed through laughter or wit.Following this short introduction to the nature of the satire and Swift's opinions on it,I willbegin dealing with the issue of Swift's true intentions writing his satires.In the poem The Lady's Dressing Room Swift spits out his disgust at the body and thestupid credulouity of the men at supposing that women with a beautiful physiognomy arealso decent and straightforward in any other ways too.Swift teaches us not to be deluded bythe attractiveness of the women as there exists always behind their facades which,oncerevealed to our senses,would strike us with revolt and abomination.At the very beginning ofthe poem we are provided with this striking image of the lady:''Five hours,(and who can do it less in?)By haughty Celia spent in dressing;The goddess from her chamber issues,Arrayed in lace,brocade and tissues;...''Regular readers of Swift would...

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