John Donne: -religious background-general shape of his career
-born 1572-was Catholic, part of persecuted minority; a Jesuit Priest was a Catholic missionary-everyone else was Protestant under Queen Elizabeth, so he was an outsider to English society-ends up converting to Protestant which allowed him to go to university and obtain government positions -1590s: converted to Anglican church-1598: appointed secretary to Thomas Egerton, high official in the church of Elizabeth I-1601: married Anne More [Egerton’s niece]-1615: ordained to Anglican ministry-1621: Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral-died 1631, poems were published after he died, during his lifetime he was known for his sermons
John Donne:-characteristic methods and concerns-differences between early and late poems
-wrote satire and love poems-Donne became obsessed with Death, most famous sonnet “Death be not proud”Jack Donne (early Donne):”The Sun Rising” (poem about his lover, addresses the Sun)vs.
Dr. Donne (late Donne): “Holy Sonnet 10” (the one about Death and how it’s not that powerful)-apostrophe: addressing things as if they are people-in “Holy Sonnet 10,” Donne uses structure of a love poem (sonnet) to address Death -from “Death’s Duel”: “We have a winding-sheet in our mother’s womb which grows with us from our conception, and we come into the world wound up in that winding-sheet, for we come to seek a grave”
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-Donne is sometimes grouped with poets like Vaughan Crashaw, and Marvell under the heading “The Metaphysical Poets”-this terms comes from John Dryden, who said of Donne, “He affects metaphysics, not only in his satires but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign”-Samuel Johnson on Donne and the “Metaphysical Poets” [critic of metaphysical poets, didn’t like them]: “They were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole endeavor. In their poetry the most heterogenous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, he is seldom pleased”-T.S. Eliot liked the metaphysical poets, they influenced him: “In the works of the metaphysical poets we find, instead of a mere explication of the content of a comparison, a development by rapid association of thought which requires considerable agility on the part of the reader. This telescoping of images and multiplied associations is characteristic of the period and is one of the sources of the vitality of their language”-metaphysics: philosophical questions about about nature of reality, universe-level questions (e.
g. sun revolving around the earth)-Donne brings intellectual, philosophical reflection into love poems, metaphysical poet, this annoys Dryden
-a conceit is an elaborately sustained metaphor, which causes us to work hard to retrieve the multi-faceted meanings of individual words and images-this device creates impossible relations. For this reason, it makes strenuous demands on readers, asking us to combine objects and ideas in new and unconventional ways-relationship not completely clear or making sense -conceit in Donne’s “The Flea”-conceit in “To His Mistress Going to Bed” (lover’s body is America–> both discoverable): “License my roving hands, and let them go Before, behind, between, above, below. O my America! my new-found land, My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned, My mine of precious stones, my empery, How blest am I in this discovering thee”
John Donne, The Flea
-flea sucked his and her blood, inside the flea they are mingled, joined them together in a way that “is more than we would do”-in the flea they are almost married even though parents grudge their romance and she will not make love to him; killing the flea would be killing three lives (his, hers, and the flea’s)-his lover kills the flea, neither of them is less noble for having killed it, if she were to sleep with him she would lose no more honor than when she killed the flea
John Donne, The Good Morrow
-poet asks beloved how they used to spend their lives before they had met one another-sense of wonder and newness of their love
John Donne, The Sun Rising
-lying in bed with his lover, speaker chides the rising sun, asking why it must bother them–after all, love is not subject to season or time-the sun shouldn’t think its beams are strong, he could block it out by closing his eyes but doesn’t want to lose sight of his lover-asks the sun whether treasures in India or kings now lie in bed with the speaker-all the sun has to do is shine on their bed and it shines on the whole world, makes the sun’s job easier
John Donne, The Relic
-poet has a strand of his lover’s hair that he wrapped around his wrist-when superstitious people dig up his grave, he imagines that they will think the hair is meant to magically bring the lovers together-in reality, they haven’t slept together, still views his beloved as a miracle
John Donne, Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed
-urges his mistress to bed, describes undressing and caressing her, compares her body to discovering America”Come, madam, come, all rest my powers defy; Until I labour, I in labour lie. The foe oftimes, having the foe in sight, Is tired of standing, though he never fight. Off with that girdle, like heaven’s zone glittering, But a far fairer world encompassing. Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear, That th’ eyes of busy fools may be stopp’d there.”-meanings of the word labour: sex and the result of sex (labor/giving birth)-rhetorical strategy for getting mistress to sleep with him: clothes outward ornament, real heaven underneath-carpe diem poem: poet talking to beloved about sleeping together
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 7
-Donne tells the heavenly angels to fire up judgment day-wants time to mourn for the dead and for his own sins-asks God to teach him how to repent
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 10
-tells Death not to be proud, not that powerful-compares Death to rest and sleep (not that bad)-says Death is a slave who spends time with poison, war, and sickness-Death isn’t needed, speaker can take drugs and fall asleep-Christians will wake and be in eternity, and Death will be dead
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 14
-asks God to batter his heart as if attacking a town-loves God and wants to be loved but is tied to “reason” (God’s enemy), asks God to break the speaker’s ties with the enemy-can’t really be free unless God enslaves and excites him
John Donne, Holy Sonnet 18
-speaker perplexed about identity of the true church (God’s “spouse”)
John Donne, Hymn to my God in my Sickness
-speaker says he will be made into the music of God-compares his doctors to cosmographers and himself to a map, lying flat on the bed
John Donne, Meditation 17 from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
-speaker approaches Death-hearing a church bell signifying a funeral, he observes that every death diminishes the large fabric of humanity-we are all in the world together and should use the suffering of others to learn how to live better so that we are better prepared for our own death, which is merely a translation to another world
John Milton (17th Century):-shape of his life/career-political/religious affinities
-born 1608-1625: entered Christ College, Cambridge-1632-1638: “studious retirement”-1638-1639: Italian journey-1642-1651: English Civil War-1649: The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates-1629: Appointed by Council of State as Secretary for Foreign Tongues-1652: Milton almost blind-1660: Charles II restored.
Milton imprisoned. –> Milton was a Roundhead/against the king and for Parliament. Once Charles I gets beheaded and later the monarchy comes back with Charles II, Milton is imprisoned-1667: Paradise Lost published-1671: Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes published-1674: Death of Milton
English Civil War
-1642-1651-Cavaliers vs. Roundheads-result: execution of Charles I, exile of Charles II, establishment of the republican Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell
CAVALIERS:-people who fought for the king (Charles I)-High Church/Anglican-country (supporters)ROUNDHEADS:-people who fought for Parliament (Oliver Cromwell)-Puritan/Low Church (believed in things of the Protestant reformation, direct interpretation of scripture; simplicity)-cities (supporters)
-kept dissolving Parliament (they don’t raise the funds he needs, new people who become part of Parliament are angry at him); believed in the divine right of kings-did things without Parliamentary consent, like levying taxes –> many subjects opposed this and thought he was a tyrannical absolute monarch-ends up getting beheaded/executed (convicted for high treason)
-leads Parliamentary forces/Roundheads against Charles I-becomes Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England after Charles I executed
Milton, “How Soon Hath Time”
“How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year! My hasting days fly on with full career, But my late spring no bud or blossom show’th. Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth, That I to manhood am arriv’d so near, And inward ripeness doth much less appear, That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th. Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow, It shall be still in strictest measure ev’n To that same lot, however mean, or high, Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n; All is, if I have grace to use it so, As ever in my great task Master’s eye”-desire to accomplish more, fear that time is running out
Milton and distinctive poetic techniques: Theodicy
Paradise Lost is theodicy; it is a justification of the ways of God to men-if God is good and just, why would he bring suffering?-freewill-Adam and Eve choose to eat the fruit.
Adam reasons: “O fairest of creation, last and best of all God’s works, creature in whom excelled whatever can to sight or thought be formed, Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet! How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost, defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote? Rather how hast thou yielded to transgress the strict forbiddance, how to violate the sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud of enemy hathe beguiled thee, yet unknown, and me with thee hath ruined, for with thee certain my resolution is to die; How can I live without thee, how forgo they sweet converse and love so dearly joined, to live again in these wild woods forlorn? Should God create another Eve, and I another rib afford, yet loss of thee would never from my heart; no no I feel the link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh, bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe”
Milton and distinctive poetic techniques: blank verse
-unrhymed iambic pentameter-thinks rhyming is for lesser poets: “The measure is English Heroic Verse without Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and Virgil in Latin; Rime being no necessary Ajunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in Longer works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age to set off wretched matter and lame matter”
Elements of Epic
-invocation of the muse-opening in media res-epic similes
Milton and distinctive poetic techniques: Epic Invocation of the Muse
Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden, till one greater Man restore us, and regain the blissful seat, sing Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top of Oreb, or of Sinair, didst inspire that shephered, who first taught the chosen seed, in the beginning how the heavens and earth rose out of chaos: or if Sion hill delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed fast by the oracle of God; I thence invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, that with no middle flight intends to soar above the Aonian mount, while it pursues things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And cheifly thou O spirit, that dost prefer before all temples the upright heart and pure, instruct me, for thous knowst thou from the first wast present and with mighty wings outspread Dove-like satst brooding on the vast abyss and mad’st it pregnant what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support that to the height of this great argument I may assert Eternal Providence, and justify the ways of God to men.”
Milton and distinctive poetic techniques: in media res
“say first, for heaven hides nothing from thy view nor the deep tract of Hell, say first what cause moved our grandparents in that happy state, favored of Heaven so highly, to fall off from their creator and transgress his will for one restraint, lords of the world besides? Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal Serpent, he it was” etc.-epics open in the midst of things
Milton and distinctive poetic techniques: Epic similes
-“His spear, to equal which the highest pine Hewn on some Norwegian hills, to be the mast Of some great ammiral, were but a wand” –> his spear made the pine trees look small –> used to create scale and exaggerations-“Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate with head uplift above the wave, and eyes that sparkling blazed, his other parts besides prone on the flood, extended long and large lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge as whom the fables name of monstrous size Titanian, or Earth-born, that warred on Jove, Briareos or Typhone, whom the den by ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast Leviathan which God of all his works created hugest that swim the ocean stream” –> Satan is as large as an island, men at sea feel relieved but he’s not an island, tricking people -thick swarmed, both on the ground and in the air, brushed with the hiss of rustling wings.
As bees in springtime, when the sun with Taurus rides, pour forth their populous youth about the hive in clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank, the suburb of the their straw-built citadel, new rubbed with balm, expatiate and confer their state affairs. So thick the aery crowd swarmed and were straightened; till the signal given, behold a wonder! They but now who seemed in bigness to surpass Earth’s giant sons now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room throng numberless, like that Pygmean race beyond the Indian mount, or fairy elves, whose mountain revels, by a forest side or fountain some belated peasant sees, or dreams he sees, while overhead the moon sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth wheels her pale course, they on their mirth and dance” –> compares devils to fairy elves; reality is in question-Beowulf: “they collected their spears in a seafarer’s stook, a stand of grayish tapering ash”
Interpretation of Paradise Lost as influenced by English Civil War
-“tyranny of Heaven”: God similar to Charles I, like a monarch-Satan: I will not let you dictate/Parliament & Cromwellproblems:-identify with Satan-Milton identifies with Cromwell, is Paradise Lost justifying Satan’s revolt revolt rather than God? (biggest debate about Paradise Lost)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I
-humankind’s first disobedience toward God, Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit (pun on actual apple and figurative fruits of their actions–> brought death to humans for the first time, causing us to lose home in Paradise until Jesus restores humankind to purity)-Muse (mystical source of poetic inspiration to sing about subjects)-his Muse inspired Moses to receive Ten Commandments and write Genesis (different from Muses who inspired classical poets)-Milton’s Muse is the holy spirit which inspired Christians-he says that his poem, like his Muse, will fly above those of the classical poets and accomplish things never done before. –> source of inspiration greater than theirs-asks Holy Spirit to fill him with knowledge of the beginning of the world because the Holy Spirit was the active force in creating the universe-wants to be inspired with sacred knowledge because he wants to show his fellow man that the fall of humankind into death and sin was part of God’s plan and is justified-Adam and Eve’s disobedience was partly due to a serpent’s deception (Satan)-poem joins Satan and his followers in hell, where they have been cast after being defeated by God in heaven-Satan lies beside his second-in-command, Beezlebub in a lake of fire (gives off darkness)-Satan bemoans terrible position and plans another attack against Gpd, Beezlebub is doubtful-the 2 devils rise up because God has loosened their chains-all the devils were formerly angels who chose to follow Satan and his rebellion, and God intends to turn their evil deeds toward good-once out of the lake, Satan becomes optimistic and calls the fallen angels, in the time of man, man many of these devils came to be worshiped as gods-Moloch (god requiring human sacrifices), Belial (lewd and lustful)-Satan wants to make God to evil out of good-Satan’s continued envy and search for freedom leads him to believe that he would rather be a king in hell than a servant in heaven; believes his own free intellect is as great as God’s will-fall to heavenly forces, but consider another war-the devils dig into the ground, unearthing gold and minerals-construct a great temple: Pandemonium, and demonic troops gather there to hold a summit, shrink from huge winged creatures to smallest size, enter Pandemonium and debate begins
Paradise Lost, Book 4
-Satan lands atop Mount Niphates, just north of Paradise, the Garden of Eden-becomes gripped with doubt about the task in front of him; seeing the beauty and innocence of Earth has reminded him of what he once was. He even briefly considers whether he could be forgiven if he repented. -but hell follows him wherever he goes–Satan is actually the embodiment of Hell-if he asks the Father for forgiveness, he knows it would be a false confession; he reasons that if he returned to Heaven, he still could not bear to bow down-knowing redemption or salvation cannot be granted to him, he resolves to continue to commit acts of sin and evil-he does not notice that during his internal debate, he has inadvertently revealed his devilish nature-he is observed by Uriel, the archangel he tricked into pointing the way-Uriel notices his conflicting facial expressions and since all cherubs have permanent looks of joy on their faces, Uriel concludes that Satan cannot be a cherub
John Milton, Paradise Lost Book 9
-Satan, in the form of the serpent, searches for the couple. He is delighted to find Eve alone.
Coiling up, he gets her attention and begins flattering her beauty, grace, and godliness-Eve is amazed to see a creature of the Garden speak-he tells her her in enticing language that he gained the gifts of speech and intellect by eating the savory fruit of one of the trees in the garden-he flatters Eve by saying that eating the apple also made him seek her out in order to worship her beauty-Eve is amazed by the power that this fruit supposedly gave the snake. Curious to know which tree holds this fruit, Eve follows Satan until he brings her to the Tree of Knowledge-She recoils, telling them that God has forbidden them to eat from this tree, but Satan persists, arguing that God actually wants them to eat from the tree-Satan says that God forbids it only because he wants to show their independence; Eve is seriously tempted-the flattery has made her desire to know more. She reasons that God claimed that eating from this tree meant death, but the serpent ate (or so he claims) and not only does he still live, but he can speak and think-God would have no reason to forbid the fruit unless it were powerful, Eve thinks, and seeing it right before her eyes makes all of the warnings seem exaggerated; it looks so perfect to Eve-she reaches for an apple, plucks it from the tree and takes a bite. The Earth then feels wounded and nature sighs in woe, for with this act, humankind has fallen-Eve’s first fallen thought is to find Adam and to have him eat of the forbidden fruit too so that they might be equal-she finds him nearby and in hurried words tells him that she has eaten the fruit and that her eyes have been opened-Adam drops the wreath of flowers he made for her. he is horrified because he knows that they are now doomed but immediately decides that he cannot possible live without Eve-Eve does not want Adam to remain and have another woman; she wants him to suffer the same fate as she-Adam realizes that if she is to be doomed, then he must follow.
He eats the fruit. He too feels invigorated at first. He turns a lustful eye on Eve, and they run off into the woods for sexual play-Adam and Eve fall asleep briefly but upon awakening they see the world in a new way-they recognize their sin and realize that they have lost Paradise-at first, Adam and Eve both believe that they will gain glorious amounts of knowledge but the knowledge that they gained by eating the apple was only of the good that they had lost and the evil that they had brought upon themselves-they now see each other’s nakedness and are filled with shame.they cover themselves with leaves-Milton explains that their appetite for knowledge has been fulfilled and their hunger for God has been quenched-angry and confused, they continue to blame each other for committing the sin, while neither will admit any fault-their shameful and tearful argument continues for hours term-5
-was exiled after Cromwell defeated him in the battle of Worcester-Cromwell’s death resulted in a restoration of the monarchy-back from exile, make him king again, people happy about it-restored to the throne in 1660; reopening of the theaters-Cromwell (Puritan) thought theaters were sinful, shut them down, Charles II brings them back
-1660: Charles II restored to the throne; reopening of theaters-1666: Great Fire of London-1685: Death of Charles II. James II, his Catholic brother, takes the throne-1688-89: The Glorious Revolution. James II exiled, succeeded by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange
Great Fire of London
-1666-testament to how religious differences are a power keg, king’s baker forgot to turn the oven off, worried whether it was a Catholic plot, a punishment because of civil war-Samuel Pepys: religious citizen who kept a diary, wrote about the fire-Dryden’s “Annus Mirabilis”: “Me-thinks already, from this chymic flame, I see a city of more precious mold: Rich as the town which gives the Indies name with silver paved, and all divine with gold” –> miraculous year, London will rise and be more important than before
-1688-89-0verthrow of King James II of England by a Union of Parliamentarians with William III of Orange and Mary-signed the English Bill of Rights which ended the tension and conflict between the crown and parliament and the end of Catholicism in England, monarch no longer had absolute power
Historical/Intellectual Change in the 18th Century
-political stability/distrust of dogmatism (beliefs of the church)-this period called the “Augustan” period, named after Caesar’s nephew, who brought peace –> England views Charles II as similar-explosion in population and commerce-loosening of moral strictures/reopening of playhouses –> restoration comedy (puritans are gone, more freedom)-Restoration comedies: focus on women of ill repute, women not to be trusted, marriage, whores, sex –> women made fun of because a lot of women in the audience, playing to that audience-expanded public sphere: 1. a set of publications that are not directly controlled by the government –> loosening of censorship –> newspapers, dictionaries, novels, gentleman’s magazines, people can express themselves, argue deliberate, discuss –> new in this period –> made possible by huge expansion in literacy rate and loosening of censorship2.
places to read this stuff –> coffeehouses and theaters, pleasure gardens, lending libraries (subscription to get newest novel or other publication)-scientific discovery/empiricism (founding of the Royal Society, 1662) –> Battle of the Books, microscope and telescope invented-the rise of the individual: people thinking for themselves, self-interest based on own experience rather than what church or people tell them to think, people think of themselves not by filling a social role/rank, but individual identity-the novel invented, about everyday people, low life characters (e.g. Moll Flanders)
The Rise of the Novel
-linked to the rise of the individual-one of the first novels by Defoe: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders (1722)-individuality/confession –> rise of the novel, partly because of capitalism start to see themselves as individual people with a conscience who confess what they have done wrong, rather than self value based on social rank, the novel is the “art form of the individual”-narrators everyday people and everyday events
-a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
-18th century great age of satire -Gower and satire, “Vox Clamantis”: “I throw my darts and shoot my arrows at the world. But where there is a righteous man, no arrow strikes. But I wound those who live wickedly. Therefore let him who recognizes himself there look to himself.”-smart people don’t take offense, be happy-fools will be hurt or won’t even know it happened Dyden: “a witty man is tickled while he is hurt in this manner, and a fool feels it not”, A Discourse Concerning Satire-Satirical Works (1660-1745; from Restoration to the death of Swift):-1678: John Dryden, Mac Flecknoe: A Satire Upon the True-Blue-Protestant Poet, T.S.-1712: Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock-1729: Johnathan Swift, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from being a Burthen to their Parents or Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Publick”
-born 1631-known in his own time primarily as a playwright–didn’t start writing verse satires until he was almost 50-1685 ascent of James II: Dryden converts to Catholicism within a year -Dryden gave English poetry a new form-Samuel Johnson: “What was said of Rome adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor to English poetry embellished by Dryden, he found it brick and he left it marble”-Epigram on Milton: “Three poets, in three distant ages born, Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed, the next in majesty, in both the last: the force of nature could no further go; to make a third, she joined the former two.”
-rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines
-Dryden echos “subterranean wind”: “born upwards by a subterranean wind”-Milton: “Then with expanded wings he steers his flight aloft, incumbent on the dusty air that felt unusual weight, till on dry land he lights, if it were land that ever burned with solid, as the lake with liquid fire, and such appeared in hue; as when the force of of subterranean wind transports a hill torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side of thundering Etna, whose combustible and fueled entrails thence conceiving fire, sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds and leave a singed bottom all involved with stench and smoke, such resting found the sole of unblest feet”
Dryden vs. Milton Style
Dryden uses heroic couplets, more natural sounding than the intricacy of Milton”Mac Flecknoe” can be compared to Milton’s Paradise Lost. Just as Dryden defines Shadwell’s dominant trait as dullness, Milton’s Satan can be defined by his pride. Dryden’s use of exaggerations in reference to a specific person, as discussed above, also makes “Mac Flecknoe” similar to Paradise Lost.
For example, Milton writes that Satan is as large as an island and compares him to Leviathan: “in bulk as huge / As whom the fables name of monstrous size” (Book 9, line 192). Milton also brings Satan’s spear to epic proportions: “His spear, to equal…the tallest pine” (Book 9, line 292).
Rather than to ridicule Satan, however, Milton uses exaggerations to demonstrate Satan’s power, or his perceived power. Thus, Milton’s hyperboles serve a different purpose than Dryden’s—perhaps because “Mac Flecknoe” is a mock epic, while Paradise Lost is an epic.
Dryden, Mac Flecknoe
-Mac Flecknoe is the father of Shadwell; Shadwell is the dullest poet to inherit Flecknoe’s throne-mock-epic-wit is highly prized, dullness must be avoided
Comparisons in Mac Flecknoe
-“thoughtless as monarch oaks that shade the plain” : comments on his size, trees don’t need to think to shade the plain, both Shadwell and trees devoid of thought-“this Flecknoe found, who like Augustus, young”: Augustus was a Roman emperor, both ruled for a long time, Flecknoe rules over bad writing (“the realms of nonsense”), historical analogy (Augustus and Charles I both brough peace, “Augustan Age,” contemporary power structure -“about thy boat the little fishes, throng, as at the morning toast that floats along” –> Shadwell is the morning toast-epic similes in Milton to build similes in Milton to build Satan up, epic similes in Mac Flecknoe to take Shadwell down –> the mock-epic
-Epic vs. Mock-Epic
EPIC:-oral and poetic language-public and remarkable deeds-historical or legendary hero-collective enterprise-generalized setting in time and placeMOCK-EPIC:-written and referential language-private, daily experience-humanized “ordinary” characters-individual enterprise-particularized setting in time and place
-born Roman Catholic: banned from holding public office-one of the first self-sustaining men of letters in English literature (partly through translations of Homer, published to subscribers), professional writers-frequented coffeehouses with Swift, Gay and others-(with Dryden) pioneered the use of the heroic couplet-powerful, lyrical poet (“know, then, unnumbered spirits round thee fly, the light militia of the lower sky” –> allieration, internal rhyme, nice comparison)-4′ 6″ tall
Pope, The Rape of the Lock
-purpose was to reconcile two aristocratic families who had quarreled when a male member of one family cut off a lock of hair from the head of Miss Arabella Fermor, a member of the other family -greatest mock-epic in English-many epic conventions applied to trivial subject matter-role of “machinery” (Sylphs etc.)-satire of romance genre as well as epic (e.g. “Clarissa drew with tempting grace a two-edged weapon from her shining case: so ladies in romance assist their knight, present the spear, and arm him for the fight”; “The Rape of the Lock” –> wants reader to think of a knight violating a maiden like in Chaucer-use of Miltonic diction (e.g.
“what stranger cause”, “new strategems”-parody a decadent society (like Swifts)-female characters: Belinda [Arabella Fermor], Clarissa, Thalestris-male characters: Ariel, Baron [Lord Petre], Sir Fopling, Lord Plume, Sir Dapperwit “she said: then raging to Lord Plume repairs, and bids her beau demand the precious hairs (Sir Plume of amber snuffbox justly vain, and the nice conduct of a clouded cane), with earnest eyes, and round unthinking face, he first the snuffbox opened, then the case, and thus broke out–“My Lord, why what the devil! Zounds! damn the lock!” etc. –> making fun of Lord Plume, happens after the hair has been taken
Mock-Epic Conventions of The Rape of the Lock
1. description of weaponry:Agamemnon’s sword: lineage of sword Beowulf: shield, sword –> was owned by giantsMilton: Satan’s spear as big as the treesPope: hairpin: “‘Now meet thy fate,’ incensed Belinda cried, and drew a deadly bodkin from her side.
(The same, his ancient personage to deck, her great-great-grandsire wore about his neck, in three seal rings, which after, metled down, formed a vast buckle for his widow’s gown: her infant grandame’s whistle next it grew, the bells she jingled, and the whistle blew, then in a bodkin graced her mother’s hairs, which long she wore, and now Belinda wears” –>lineage of the pin, going from being epic to becoming increasingly trivial (buckle to hairpin)2. Invocation of the Muse3. Journey to the Underworld (Cave of Spleen)4.
Pope vs. Milton
-Lord Petre/Baron, Satanic character
Pope vs. Dryden
-humor, being ridiculous-Dryden more direct with his satire-brings the everyday to epic proportions, objects of artistic proportions
Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto 1
Begins with a passage outlining the subject of the poem and invoking the aid of the muse. Then the sun (“sol”) appears to initiate the morning routines of a wealthy household. Lapdogs shake themselves awake, bells begin to ring, and although it is already noon, Belinda still sleeps. She has been dreaming and we learn that the dream has been sent by “her guardian sylph,” Ariel.
The dream is of a handsome youth who tells her that she is protected by “unnumbered spirits”–an army of supernatural beings who once lived on earth as human women. The youth explain that they are the invisible guardians of women’s chastity, although the credit is usually mistakenly given to “honor” rather than to their divine stewardship. Of these spirits, one particular group–the Sylphs, who dwell in the air–serve as Belinda’s personal guardians; they are devoted, lover-like, to any woman that “rejects mankind” and they understand and reward the vanities of an elegant and frivolous lady like Belinda. Ariel, the chief of all Belinda’s pukish protectors, warns her that “some dread event” is going to fall her that day, though he can tell her nothing more specific than that she should “beware of man.” Then Belinda awakes, to the licking tongue of her lapdog, Shock. Upon the delivery of a billet-doux, or love letter, she forgets all about the dream.
She then proceeds to her dressing table and goes through an elaborate ritual of dressing, in which her own image in the mirror is described as a “heavenly image, a goddess.” The Sylphs, unseen, assist their charge as she prepares herself for the day’s activities
Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto 2
Belinda, rivaling the sun in her radiance, sets out by boat on the river Thames for Hampton Court Palace. She is accompanied by a party of glitzy ladies (“Nymphs”) and gentleman, but is far and away the most striking member of the group. Pope’s description of her charms include “the sparkling cross she wore” on her “white breast,” her quick eyes and lively looks and the easy grace with which she bestows her smiles and attentions evenly among all the adoring guests. Her crowning glories though are the two ringlets that dangle on her ivory neck.
These curls are described as love’s labyrinth’s, specifically designed to ensnare any poor heart who might get entangled in themone of the young gentleman on the boat, the Baron, particularly admires Belinda’s locks and has determined to steal them for himself. We read that he rose early that morning to build an altar to love and pray for success in this project. He sacrificed several tokens of his former affections, including garters, gloves, and love letters. He then prostrated himself before a pyre built with all the trophies of his former loves, fanning its flames with his amorous sighs. The gods listened to his prayer but decided to grant only half of itas the pleasure boat continues on its way, everyone is carefree except Ariel, who remembers that some bad event has been foretold for the day. He summons an army of Sylphs, who assemble around him in their iridescent beauty.
He reminds them with great ceremony that one of their duties, after regulating celestial bodies and the weather and guarding the British monarch, is to tend the Fair: to keep watch over Ladies’ powders, perfumes, curls, and clothing, and to assist their blushes and inspire their airs. Therefore, since some dire disaster threatens Belinda, Ariel assigns her an extensive troop of body guards to protect her earrings, her watch, and her locks. Ariel himself will protect Shock the dog. A band of fifty Sylphs will protect the all-important petticoat. Ariel pronounces that any Sylph who neglects his assigned duty will be severely punished. They disperse to their posts and wait for fate to unfold
Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto 3
the boat arrives at Hampton Court palace, and the ladies and gentleman disembark on their courtly amusements. After a pleasant round of chatting and gossip, Belinda sits down with two of the men to a game of cards.
They play ombre, a three-handed game of trumps, somewhat like bridge, and it is described in terms of a heroic battle: the cards are troops combating on the velvet plain of the card table. Belinda, under the watchful eye of the Sylphs, begins favorably. She declares spades as trumps and leads with her highest cards, sure of success. Soon however the hand takes a turn for the worse when to the Baron fate inclines the field: he catches her king of clubs with his queen and then leads back with his diamonds. Belinda is in danger of being beaten, but recovers in the last trick so as to just barely win back the amount she bid.the next ritual amusement is the serving of coffee. The curling vapors of the steaming coffee remind the Baron of his intention to attempt Belinda’s lock. Clarissa draws out her scissors for his use, as a lady would arm a knight for a romance.
Taking up the scissors, he tries three times to clip the lock from behind without Belinda seeing. The Sylphs endeavor furiously to intervene, blowing the hair out of harm’s way and tweaking her diamond earring to make her turn around. Ariel, in a last minute effort, gains access to her brain, where he is surprised to find an earthly lover lurking at her heart.
He gives up protecting her then. The implication is that she secretly wants to be violated. Finally the shears close on the curl. A daring Sylph jumps in between the blades and is cut in two; but being a supernatural creature, he is quickly restored. The deed is done and the Baron exults while Belinda’s screams fill the air.
Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto 4
Belinda’s anxious cares and secret passions after the loss of her lock are equal to all the emotions of all who have ever known rage, resentment, and despair. After the disappointed Sylphs withdraw, an earthly gnome called Umbriel flies down to the Cave of Spleen (the spleen, an organ that removes disease-causing agents from the bloodstream, was traditionally associated with the passions, particularly malaise; “spleen” is a synonym for ill-temper).
In his descent he passes through Belinda’s bedroom where she lies prostrate with discomfiture and the headache. She is attended by two handmaidens, Ill nature and Altercation. Umbriel passes safely through this melancholy chamber, holding a sprig of “spleenwart” before him as a charm. He addresses the “goddess of spleen” and returns with a bag of signs, sobs, and passions and a vial of sorrow, grief, and tears. He then unleashes the first bag to Belinda fueling her ire and despair.There to commiserate with Belinda is her friend Thalestris (in Greek mythology, Thalestris is the name of one of the Amazons, a race of warrior women who excluded men from their society). Thalestris delivers a speech calculated to further torment Belinda’s indignation and urge her to avenge herself.
She then goes to Sir Plume, “her beau,” to ask him to demand that the Baron return the hair. Sir Plume makes a weak and slang-filled speech, to which the Baron disdainfully refuses to acquiesce. At this, Umbriel releases the content of the remaining vial, throwing Belinda into a fit of sorrow and self-pity. With beauteous grief, she bemoans her fate, regrets not having heeded the dream-warning, and laments the lovely, pitiful state of her sole remaining curls.
Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto 5
the Baron remains impassive against all the ladies’ tears and reproaches. Clarissa delivers a speech in which she questions why a society that so adores beauty in women does not also place a value on good sense and good humor. Women are frequently called angels, she argues, but without reference to the moral qualities of these creatures. Especially since beauty is necessarily so short-lived we must have something more substantial and permanent to fall back on.
This sensible, moralizing speech falls on deaf ears, however, and Belinda, Thalestris, and the rest ignore her and proceed to launch an all-out attack on the offending Baron, A chaotic tussle ensues, with the gnome Umbriel presiding in a posture of self-congratulation. The gentlemen are slain or revived according to the smiles and frowns of the four ladies. Belinda and the Baron meet in combat and she emerges victorious by peppering him with snuff and drawing her bodkin.
Having achieved a position of advantage, she again demands that he return the lock. But the ringlet has been lost in the chaos and cannot be found. The poet avers that the lock has risen to the heavenly spheres to become a star; stargazes may admire it now for all eternity. In this way, the poet reasons, it will attract more envy than it ever could on earth
-born in Dublin. Father died, mother moved to England. he was raised by an uncle, sent to Trinity college in Dublin. (Irish Protestant)-left Ireland in 1689 (Invasion of James II)-strong defender of Anglicanism, and (largely for that reason) a Tory (not a Whig). Supported the Test Act, e.
g. (1710)–> anyone who held office in England take a test, loyalty to England/Anglican –> Tory’s support this, Whig’s do not-Whig vs. Tory:-Whig: Parliamentary (democratic decision making), in favor of religious toleration (be whatever religion you want)-Tory: support the king and the Anglican church (strict conformity)-Swift on Tory side, felt that people were bad, misanthrop, conservative, yet great defender of Ireland against England domination, outrageous rents for land, left peasants starving, unlikely hero for the Irish –> defender of Irish sovereignty-When the Whigs took over, Swift had no hopes of getting a government condition, banished to Dublin, where he became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral-became an Irish patriot, who resisted English oppression, Irish national hero to this day
Swift, A Modest Proposal
-1729-published anonymously-preeminent example of satirical prose-parodies statistical reasoning/early political economists like William Petty (Political Anatomy of Ireland)-critiques English “devouring” of Ireland/absentee landlords-works by getting reader to buy into an inhuman premise, pursuing its implications ad absurdum -creates a premise that’s hard to disagree with; make poor useful members of society: “therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation”-argument of Modest Proposal: children should be sold for food, children are a burden (explicit argument), Irish are impoverished, English landowners wealthy and horrible, selfish, reveal the flaws (implicit)his target: the landlords, who allow this problem to continue, callous suffering of the Irish, maybe specifically targeting an old politician -parody of statistics as a discipline, just starting to rise; reducing people to numbers –> critical of that, critical of dehumanization, pushes premise to the point of absurdity
Dryden satire styles
Swift and Dryden both utilize satire, but for different purposes. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift uses satire to comment on a societal problem regarding the poor. Dryden, on the other hand, uses satire to target people; he makes fun of and exaggerates qualities of specific people—evident in his work “Mac Flecknoe.” Swift and Dryden also take different approaches to their satires; Swift’s approach is more subtle than Dryden’s. Swift takes a logical, serious tone in “A Modest Proposal,” writing as though his suggestions to market poor children as meat are reasonable and justified. Swift’s diction is associated with logic such as, “intention” (2633), “propose” (2634), “computed” (2635), and “advantage” (2634).
He also uses statistics throughout, regarding the weight, price, etc. of children’s meat: “a child just born will weigh twelve pounds, and in a solar year if tolerably nursed increaseth to twenty-eight pounds,” for example (2635). This logical diction and statistics serve to almost disguise Swift’s satire; it is the unreasonable content of his proposal that highlights it.
Dryden’s approach to satire, on the other hand, is more obvious. In “Mac Flecknoe,” it becomes evident to the reader that it is meant to be humorous, scornful, and exaggerated; Dryden ridicules Thomas Shadwell. The head note about “Mac Flecknoe” states that Shadwell’s comedies had characters that were each defined by a dominant trait. Dryden, therefore, applies this idea to his own satire—Shadwell’s dominant trait is dullness.
Dryden uses words and phrases to highlight Shadwell’s dullness such as, “thoughtless,” (line 27), “mature in dullness” (line 16), and “never deviates into sense” (line 20). Dryden also emphasizes Shadwell’s lack of success: from satires (“thy offensive satires never bite,” line 200) to playing music (“at thy sharpened thumb…
the treble squeaks for fear, the basses roar,” lines 45-46) to writing (“Thy tragic Muse gives smiles, they comic sleep,” line 198). Dryden even states that he aims to write epically and use hyperbole, defending this use by stating that it pleases the audience: “the boldest strokes of poetry…are those which most delight the reader” (“The Author’s Apology for Heroic Poetry and Heroic License,” 2256).
Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
-play about Newgate prison –> about criminal elements of English society -about a thief named MacHeath, framed by thief catchers Peachum (tattletale) and his wife-Lockett-women made fun of throughout, at same time signaling them as important audience for theater and for novel (becoming literate)-MacHeath pretends to fall in love with daughters of Peachum and Lockett –> ends up getting hanged-break the fourth wall: talk about making the play within the play-songs are like Dublin street songs: like pop songs being used in an opera, making fun of it