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Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man” Summary and Analysis

Candide flees after landing in Buenos Aires because

❶The Frenchman is said to have suspected that he was illegitimate, and he began life sufficiently optimistic and satisfied with the world.

An Essay on Man, Epistle I Lyrics

Critical analysis of “An Essay on Man”
Introduction
François Voltaire

His knowledge measur'd to his state and place; His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here or there? The blest to day is as completely so,, As who began a thousand years ago. III Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of Fate, All but the page prescrib'd, their present state: From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Or who could suffer Being here below?

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play? Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food, And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future! Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd, And now a bubble burst, and now a world. What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now. Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never Is, but always To be blest: The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Lo, the poor Indian! His soul, proud Science never taught to stray Far as the solar walk, or milky way; Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n, Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n; Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd, Some happier island in the watry waste, Where slaves once more their native land behold, No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.

To Be, contents his natural desire, He asks no Angel's wing, no Seraph's fire; But thinks, admitted to that equal sky, His faithful dog shall bear him company.

IV Go, wiser thou! Destroy all Creatures for thy sport or gust, Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust; If Man alone engross not Heav'n's high care, Alone made perfect here, immortal there: Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, Re-judge his justice, be the God of God.

In Pride, in reas'ning Pride, our error lies; All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies. Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes, Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods. And who but wishes to invert the laws Of Order, sins against th' Eternal Cause. V Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use?

Pride answers, "'Tis for mine: For me kind Nature wakes her genial Pow'r, Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r; Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies. And what created perfect? If the great end be human Happiness, Then Nature deviates; and can Man do less?

As much that end a constant course requires Of show'rs and sun-shine, as of Man's desires; As much eternal springs and cloudless skies, As Men for ever temp'rate, calm, and wise. If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design, Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline? Who knows but he, whose hand the lightning forms, Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms; Pours fierce Ambition in a Caesar's mind, Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind? From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs; Account for moral, as for nat'ral things: Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit?

In both, to reason right is to submit. Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear, Were there all harmony, all virtue here; That never air or ocean felt the wind; That never passion discompos'd the mind. Epistle III is about man vs. Throughout the whole poem, Pope tried to contemplate on the nature of a human being and persuade the reader to recognize the existence of a Supreme Power.

He states that our abilities to understand the divine system are limited as our intellect is. He not only created all that exists but also can control the forces of nature; he can do the supernatural things, something that does not obey physical laws. He can do anything. We should bear in mind that although God has unlimited power, this does not mean that He manifests this power everywhere. We are responsible for what we do. People can see this opposition of good and evil even in nature. Yes, God created flowers, seas, soft grass, fruits and lovely animals.

But, on the other hand, earthquakes, floods, snakes, and plaques are also the part of our existence on this planet. We do not like such negative things, but who are we to claim that they are unnecessary? Instead, we can take care of sick people, feed the hungry and give a shelter for the homeless. We learn that there is a hierarchy in the universe. The general scheme is as follows: This Great Chain of Being is perfect and unchangeable. The morality here is that a human should accept his medium place and never try to become godlike striving for more knowledge and perfection.

A lot of attention is dedicated to the greatest sin of pride. We tend to think that we are in the center of the world and that everything was created only for our own use. Indeed, several lines in the Essay on Man, particularly in the first Epistle, are simply statements from the Moralist done in verse. Although the question is unsettled and probably will remain so, it is generally believed that Pope was indoctrinated by having read the letters that were prepared for him by Bolingbroke and that provided an exegesis of Shaftesbury's philosophy.

The main tenet of this system of natural theology was that one God, all-wise and all-merciful, governed the world providentially for the best. Most important for Shaftesbury was the principle of Harmony and Balance, which he based not on reason but on the general ground of good taste. Believing that God's most characteristic attribute was benevolence, Shaftesbury provided an emphatic endorsement of providentialism. Following are the major ideas in Essay on Man: For example, motivated by envy, a person may develop courage and wish to emulate the accomplishments of another; and the avaricious person may attain the virtue of prudence.

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Summary. The subtitle of the first epistle is “Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe,” and this section deals with man’s place in the cosmos.

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An Essay on Man consists of four epistles, which is a term that is historically used to describe formal letters directed to a specific person. The first epistle looks at man's relation to the universe in order to present the concept of harmony that is referred to throughout the rest of the poem.

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Start your hour free trial to unlock this + page An Essay on Man study guide and get instant access to the following: Summary; Critical Essays; Quotes; 16 Homework . Alexander Pope published An Essay on Man in An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in – [1] [2] [3] It is an effort to rationalize or rather "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l), a variation of John Milton 's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" ().Author: Alexander Pope.

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