Pope’s principle for understanding man is the Great Chain of Being, which orders all creation according to God’s will. The disorders which man sees in the universe are actually parts of some larger perfection which man’s limited knowledge cannot perceive. Man’s prideful speculations, not the external universe, are the cause of his misery.
Within man himself, there is also an order based on the workings of self-love (the faculty of desire) and reason (the faculty of judgment). Right living depends upon the two working in harmony, since neither is good or evil in itself. Rather, good or evil arises out of their proper or improper use.
Human society also partakes of this universal order. The imitation of nature and rational self-love enable man to create a successful social order, but his favoring of a particular government or religion, instead of reliance on general principles, creates dissension and tyranny. Man’s end--happiness--is attained when he submits to Providence and dispenses with pride.
Part of the essay’s greatness is Pope’s unity of structure and theme. The poem’s orderly exposition of ideas, its concentration on universals rather than specifics, and its heroic couplet verses, reflect the ideas of balance, subordination, and harmony better than even the finest prose.
Cutting-Gray, Joanne, and James E. Swearingen. “System, the Divided Mind, and the Essay on Man.”...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Project Gutenberg Presents
An Essay on Man, Moral Essays and Satires
by Alexander Pope
contrib. by Henry Morley
Project Gutenberg Release #2428
Select author names above for additional information and titles
Download the ebook in a format below. Additional formats may also be available from the main Gutenberg site.
|Text (281K)||Main site Readingrooms UK Mirror Minho Pacific|
|Zip (118K)||Main site Readingrooms UK Mirror Minho Pacific|
|Web presentation (323K)||Main site Readingrooms UK Mirror Minho Pacific|
|Zipped HTML (124K)||Main site Readingrooms UK Mirror Minho Pacific|
Key to sites:
- Main site : Gutenberg.org (North Carolina, USA)
- Readingrooms : Project Gutenberg Reading Rooms (Washington State, USA)
- UK Mirror : Mirrorservice.org (UK)
- Minho : Universidade do Minho (Portugal)
- Pacific : Pacific Internet (Australia)
This catalog page is provided by The Online Books Page, and the literature by Project Gutenberg.