Optimism Vs. Pessimism In Pope's Essay On Man And Leapor's Essay On Woman

2105 words - 8 pages

Optimism vs. Pessimism in Pope's Essay on Man and Leapor's Essay on Woman 

   Both Alexander Pope's Essay on Man, Epistle 2 and Mary Leapor's Essay on Woman expound the fatalist contention that neither man nor woman can "win," as each individual exists in a world of trade-offs. Yet, by each author's singular technique of sculpting his ideas with the literary tools of contrast, argument, and syntax, the cores of the two essays turn back to back, evolving into distinct, but contrary perspectives of Man's (in respect to mankind) and Woman's existence. Pope asserts that a profusion of trade-offs establish a certain equilibrium point where Man hangs "on this isthmus of a middle state" (Magill 2629). After defining the boundaries of Man's oscillations through a procession of clever paradoxes of words, Pope conciliates Man's unpredictable balance, or fulcrum point, as the essence of Man as an individual. Although consistent with Pope's theory of life's extremes, Mary Leapor utilizes contrasting imagery within specific female case studies to decry the life of Woman as doomed to slavery by her inevitable fate. The two poets' views ultimately oppose each other. While Pope experiments with punctuation and precision, Leapor explores the effects of personalization. By subtly but convictively proposing an optimistic perspective, that Man's confused position is his claim to fame, Pope intones his poetry with an uplifting vitality readily conducted to his reader; whereas Leapor opines Woman's confused position as the doom of life's essence and transitively condemns her reader to the incurable pessimism she so vividly relates.

 

The essence of man, as defined by Pope, is a series of paradoxical, yet concrete sets of contrasting words that deftly define man's auspicious position between God and beast thereby setting an equilibrium of extremes. Pope chooses neither good nor bad connotations ("A being darkly wise, and rudely great") to avoid judging either of man's extremes. Instead he skillfully chooses each word to avoid judging either extreme as good or bad, right or wrong. "Darkly," on its own, connotes the unseen, the undefined and is uniquely paired with "wise," a word denoting a grasp on definition or reason. "Rudely great" again combines two impartial words that seem to stand in a paradox as a unit - "rudely" suggests low class and lack of refinement (but lacks the moral judgment of "crudely") while "great" indicates superiority, prominence and nobility (without implying self-righteous conceit, as "grand" might have done). Paired, however, each phrase ("Darkly wise" and "rudely great") carries on its own distinctive hybridized meaning. "Darkly wise," comes to depict an indefinite sensibility and "rudely great," denotes an unrefined dignity. Much simpler contrasts between black and white, dark and light, strength and weakness might have sufficed, but, efforting to capture the depth of Man's character, Pope creates contrasts that escape the...

Find Another Essay On Optimism vs. Pessimism in Pope's Essay on Man and Leapor's Essay on Woman

An essay on man

980 words - 4 pages      “An Essay on Man” by English poet Alexander Pope is a philosophical poem, which was published, in the 18th century during a historical period called the Enlightenment. A huge emphasis was placed on the ability to think and reason during the Enlightenment. People during this era reflected about a variety of topics. Some people concerned themselves with the issue of God, which consequently caused many to question the

Essay on Race in Invisible Man and Black Boy

1162 words - 5 pages The Question of Race in Invisible Man and Black Boy      In the early twentieth century black American writers started employing modernist ways of argumentation to come up with possible answers to the race question. Two of the most outstanding figures of them on both, the literary and the political level, were Richard Wright, the "most important voice in black American literature for the first half of the twentieth century" (Norton, 548

Essay on Voltaire's Candide - Fallacy of Optimism Exposed

793 words - 3 pages great that she does not see how the old woman's story of woe can surpass her own. In chapters 11 and 12 the old woman then goes onto tell of her misfortune. When she finishes Candide and Cunegonde are amazed at the hard times this woman has faced. At the proposal of the old woman, Candide and Cunegonde ask others on the ship relate their adventures, and sure enough, the others on the boat have stories that can match or surpass Cunegonde's tale

Essay on Voltaire's Candide - Voltaire's Opposition to Optimism

1178 words - 5 pages Voltaire’s Opposition to Optimism in Candide Philosophy is a means by which humans search for a general understanding of the world and its concepts. Through experience, thought, and observation, one can arrive at a conclusion that forms the basis of his ideas. However, if one simply thinks and does not act, this conclusion does not make any significant difference on his life. This is a major point that Voltaire tries to make in

Perfection in Pope’s An Essay on Man

1922 words - 8 pages Alexander Pope envisioned a universe perfect by definition. Every facet of this universe is designed solely for its place in the hierarchy of existence, and is in fact perfect for its particular station. This idea of perfection in completeness is encompassed in the famous concluding words of the first epistle of Pope’s An Essay on Man: “Whatever IS, is RIGHT.” This aphorism, however, belies the effort Pope took to solidify his assertion. In

How does Tennyson bring mental pessimism and Victorian optimism in his use of myths and legends?

1243 words - 5 pages life. [Tennyson: Roger Ebbatson].Indeed, Tithonus is a mixture of mental pessimism because of his loss of the dearest one and a touch of optimism at the end of the poem as mentioned by Roger Ebbatson.The theme of escape from the harsh reality of life, which occurs frequently in Tennyson, is treated with greater depth and subtlety in The Lotos Eaters. The subject draws again on Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus and his followers suffer years of

Essay on Appearance vs Reality in Othello and Twelfth Night

811 words - 3 pages a man versus that of a woman is also quite humorous, especially when she, through cryptic language, tells him she's in love with him, saying, "My father had a daughter loved a man as it might perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship (II, iv, 107-109)." Later, her punning almost commands sympathy when while jesting with Viola, Feste makes a quip about her lack of a beard, and she responds, "By my troth, I'll tell thee, I'm almost sick for

Essay on the Woman Protagonist in The Birthmark

1895 words - 8 pages scientist whose love for Georgiana is “more attractive than any chemical one.” And indeed, he is such a passionate scientist that everything meaningful in his life has to be related to science. He is incapable of developing beyond this stage of personal growth. Georgiana, on the other hand, enters the tale as a rather “simple” young lady, but soon grows and grows and grows –n that most important spiritual virtue of love. As the woman-protagonist

The "One-woman Man" Qualification for an Elder. This essay is based on the qualifications for an elder set forth in the book of Timothy in the Bible

1304 words - 5 pages THE "ONE-WOMAN MAN" QUALIFICATION OF AN ELDERIntroductionFirst Timothy is one of the three pastoral Epistles written to church leadership as opposed to the actual churches. In the early church there was a great need for unity as Christianity grew so that issues could be prevented and addressed. When Paul went to Macedonia, he wrote Timothy to ask him to look after the Ephesian church. After Paul realized that it might take him longer to return

Essay on Mary Beckett's "A Belfast Woman"

1031 words - 4 pages "Belfast Woman" is a short story of an elderly woman, Mrs Harrison, who lives as a Catholic in a street where mainly Protestants own most of the houses. She has to face many difficulties to live on in a country where religion has such a great effect on people's life.The story starts with a so called " in medias res ", as Mrs Harrison gets the threatening letter and reader is initiated in the Irish events without any real fact just he can guess

A Compare and Contrast Essay on Batman and Iron Man

1199 words - 5 pages Nowadays, we can see so many hero type people in our society. Different culture and different countries will appear different types of hero. Hero gave us confident and we can trust them. I have chosen two heroes to compare and contrast based on cultural aspect and what they act. The two heroes are The Batman and Iron Man. In movies, the image of hero is very clear. They are strong in muscle; fight the bad guy to save to world and they have

Similar Essays

Alexander Pope's Essay On Man

512 words - 2 pages Alexander Pope's Essay on Man - Man is Never Satisfied Alexander Pope's Essay on Man is a philosophical poem, written, characteristically in heroic couplet. It is an attempt to justify and vindicate the ways of God to man. It’s also a warning that man himself is not as in his pride, he seems to believe the center of all things. Eventhough not truly Christian, the essay makes implicit assumption that man has fallen and that he must

The Enduring Wisdom In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels And Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man

1742 words - 7 pages The Enduring Wisdom in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man If learned men of a past era came to this present age of technological advance, modern man might be surprised at the observations these humans of yesterday would make. Over three centuries ago, two such men -- Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope -- made observations concerning their own time which have interesting insights to today's world. One

Analysis Of Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man

959 words - 4 pages Analysis of Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man   There are three main issues that Pope talks about in his long poem "An Essay on Man." First, the poet evokes a timeless vision of humanity in which the universe is connected to a great chain that extends from God to the tiniest form of life. Secondly, Pope discusses God's plan in which evil must exist for the sake of the greater good, a paradox not fully understandable by human reason. Thirdly

Optimism And Pessimism In Les Miserables

622 words - 2 pages Optimism and Pessimism in Les Miserables "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise" Optimism and pessimism show up frequently in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, especially in the well-defined characters. The first minor character that has one of these qualities is the optimistic bishop who takes Jean Valjean in. Jean Valjean himself starts the story off as a pessimist but quickly becomes a very optimistic character, like Fantine