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An essay on criticism by pope summary

  • He contracted tuberculosis of the bone when he was young, which disfigured his spine and purportedly only allowed him to grow to 4 feet, 6 inches;
  • Pulpits their sacred satire learned to spare, And Vice admired to find a flatt'rer there!
  • But let a Lord once own the happy lines, How the wit brightens!
  • Regard not then if wit be old or new, But blame the false, and value still the true;
  • At length Erasmus, that great, injur'd name, The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!

An Overview Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism is an ambitious work of art written in heroic couplet. Published in 1711, this poetic essay was a venture to identify and define his own role as a poet and a critic.

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He strongly puts his ideas on the ongoing question of if poetry should be natural or written as per the predetermined artificial rules set by the classical poets. Alexander Pope 1688-1744 This essay by Pope is neoclassical in its premises; in the tradition of Horace and Boileau. Pope believes that the value of literary work depends not on its being ancient or modern, but on its being true to Nature.

This truth to Nature is found in true wit. Nature is to be found both in the matter and in the manner of expression, the two being inseparable.

The truth of human nature is to be found in common humanity, not in any eccentricity. Pope argued that human nature is ever the same. He does not negate the possibility of transgressing the rules if the basic aim of poetry is achieved and this transgression brings hope closer to the idea of the sublime.

Clearly, the poet must have a strong sense of literary tradition in order to make intelligent judgments as the critic must have it too.

Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope: An Overview

Pope says an artist imitates the nature. Classical artist already discovers the natural rules and laws. Now, it is not necessary to go to nature again because to follow the classical artist is to go to the nature. So, sources of art are society and ancient artists.

An Essay on Criticism Summary

Pope claims that artists possess genius whereas critics possess taste classical taste developed by classical artist. By taking the ideas of classical artists, a critic has to judge the text. He should not be over ambitious and over imaginative but critics can go beyond their intention. Artist has to undergo practice, learning and experiences. Which are equally important to critics too. So, critic must not be proud.

An Essay on Criticism

To be good critic, one should have courage, modesty and honesty. Decorum, for Pope, is the proper balance between expression and sound of content and form and it comes under versification.

Pope considers wit as the polished and decorated form of language.

  1. But let a Lord once own the happy lines, How the wit brightens!
  2. Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound, And worlds applaud that must not yet be found!
  3. If once right reason drives that cloud away, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day; Trust not yourself; but your defects to know, Make use of ev'ry friend—and ev'ry foe.
  4. Jump to navigation Jump to search Frontispiece An Essay on Criticism is one of the first major poems written by the English writer Alexander Pope 1688—1744. Leave dangerous truths to unsuccessful satires, And flattery to fulsome dedicators, Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more, Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er.
  5. Though triumphs were to gen'rals only due, Crowns were reserv'd to grace the soldiers too. By taking the ideas of classical artists, a critic has to judge the text.

Style and thought should go together. Pope implies that if the artist needs to break rules and regulation, he should use poetic license.

  1. Of old, those met rewards who could excel, And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well.
  2. High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise. Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit, And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.
  3. Included in the section is a dazzling display of metrical craft--note how the lines exemplify what they're talking about.
  4. Be niggards of advice on no pretence; For the worst avarice is that of sense.