"Solving Man's Vice" Essay

1253 words - 5 pages

Manos Mathew English 221Prof. Scai"Essay on Man" is a poem written by Alexander Pope that attempts to make man understand his role in this universe. This poem is another way of Pope trying to address the common thoughts that we all have and to solve the problems we face based on reason. Pope attempts to do this by pointing out the fallacy of mankind and how it can be corrected. The fallacy of mankind is related to man's pride and this can only be corrected through humility and resignation. These two themes are an intricate part in the ultimate message of this poem. Pride is a tremendous vice for mankind; it makes man think that he is above anything in the material or immaterial world. Pope constantly reminds the reader that pride is the root of all evil. When men exhibit pride, they tend to think they are above God. Pope states that our universe has a vast number of beings that are linked together at a specific place on a great chain that is upheld by God. When men have pride, they attempt to transcend their place from the chain and try to be something their not. They try to elevate themselves to a level of authority that is higher than that of God. By doing so man is creating chaos, he is disrupting the general order of nature. According to Pope, "the gen'ral order, since the whole began, is kept in nature, and is kept in man."(I, v, 5). Man is the only being in nature that has the ability to think, speak, and even doubt. Because of the fact that man has these characteristics, especially the fact that man can doubt, he is the only being on the great chain that can break it. As a result man will upset God's order. The idea of being something one is not is an important point that Pope tries tie in with pride. As reiterated before, when a person has pride they tend to believe that they are better than anyone else. They try to be something that they are not and this leads to a conflict. According to Pope, human beings and this entire universe is part of a whole. When man tries to be above everything else in this universe, he is separating himself from the whole. Pope uses an interesting analogy to prove this point. He attempts to ask an interesting question, "what if the foot ordain'd the dust to tread, or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head?" (I, ix, 7). In other words, if a hand aspired to be a head then there would be conflict because a hand is trying to be something its not. Similarly to a man who is trying to be more than he is, he is simply being something that he is not. In accordance with the idea of the part separating from the whole, the hand is trying to separate itself from the body so that it can be something else; correspondingly a man is separating himself from the universe so that he can be above God. This ultimately leads to man breaking the chain and causing disorder in the universe, because according to Pope "from nature's chain whatever link you strike, tenth or ten...

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