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Essay on Man

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An Essay on Man is a philosophical poem that entails four epistle verses with each published independently and incognito in the period ranging 1733 February and January 1734 by a bookseller. Pope later on manufactured the intricate trick partly to smoothen out the resentment provoked his earlier satires, particularly The Dunciad (1728) and Burlington epistle(1731) (Pope pg 66) .Pope ultimately acknowledged himself as the author when he brought together the epistles in the description “The first book of Ethic Epistles”. The poem tackles the query of human personality and the prospect for happiness relative to the universe, political and social hierarchies and the person. The poem utilizes a majestic oratical style to articulate the eighteenth-century buoyancy values and this underscores its point of view with an array of conventional techniques. However as time proceeds, critics view the popes poem as being fundamentally imperfect, both philosophically and aesthetically. Almost three centuries after its publication, the poem is valued distinction.

Plot and character

Bolingbroke retired in 1723 to Dawley, a farm adjoining the popes Twickenham after being formerly acquainted with the pope by reciprocated association with Jonathan Swift. He quickly made friends with the poet, whose personal viewpoints efficiently corresponded with his own. The poem has been diced into four different sections each explicating the common place ideas that took place in the eighteenth centaury (Pope Pg 45). The plot was developed from the European intellectuals who were out to criticize the humanity role and the human nature in this universe. The epistles in the poem are majored upon the premise going further to describe possible improvements to the aspects of society and human nature bringing out the implicit understanding of the current universe to be essentially perfect and divinely ordered. The following epistle focuses on the uniqueness of humans and tries to indicate the psychological balance that exist between emotions and self interest under the virtuous guidance of living. The next epistle talks about the individual role in the society in trying to trace the origins of caviling institutions. The last epistle covers the struggles between the love for others and self love in relation to the search for happiness. 


The major themes standing out in this poem is the operation of the universe and the human role in it. The government capacity in the establishment and promotion of happiness to its citizens also is brought out. The poem can be considered as the Pope’s most thorough statement of his ethical, philosophical and political principles. The implication of the poem assumes that Christian’s notions are regarded as lost paradise, fallen man and a beneficent deity.  Through the poem, an eclectic assortment of the current and traditional philosophical ideas that try to explain the universal human kind characteristics is achieved. The main theme of this poem is the idea that there is an ordered universe that has a coherent structure and at the same time operates in a rational way that is in accordance to the natural laws which were designed by God (Pope, pg 56).



As soon as the poem was published, it received a popular response and initial critic all over England. The response was echoed all over Europe and has been passed on over the following decades. However, the early appeal of the poem resulted to a controversy that was inspired by a community of clergymen and metaphysicians who were few but vocal (Pope, pg 62). The critics were on the poems values not considering its themes and were termed as being essentially poetic but not in means coherently philosophical.

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