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Growing up during the Augustan Age, his poetry is heavily influenced by common literary qualities of that time, which include classical influence, the importance of human reason and the rules of nature.
Those who “blindly creep” are consumed by laziness and a willful ignorance, and just as bad are those who “sightless soar” and believe that they understand more than they can possibly know.
Thus, it is imperative that we can strive to gain knowledge while maintaining an acceptance of our mental limits. Pope writes the first section to put the reader into the perspective that he believes to yield the correct view of the universe.
Pope counters the notorious greed of Man by illustrating the pointless emptiness that would accompany a world in which Man was omnipotent.
Furthermore, he describes a blissful lifestyle as one centered around one’s own sphere, without the distraction of seeking unattainable heights.7.
“Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or Thee?
” – Alexander Pope (From “An Essay on Man”) “Then say not Man’s imperfect, Heav’n in fault; Say rather, Man’s as perfect as he ought.” – Alexander Pope (From “An Essay on Man”) “All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.” – Alexander Pope (From “An Essay on Man”) Alexander Pope is a British poet who was born in London, England in 1688 (World Biography 1).
Pope capitalizes on his point with the final and resonating couplet: “who but wishes to invert the laws of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.” This connects to the previous stanza in which the soul is explored; those who wrestle with their place in the universe will disturb the chain of being and warrant punishment instead of gain rewards in the after-life. In the beginning of the fifth stanza, Pope personifies Pride and provides selfish answers to questions regarding the state of the universe.
He depicts Pride as a hoarder of all gifts that Nature yields.
John Bolingbroke, who Pope addresses in the first line of Epistle I when he says, “Awake, my St. ”(Pope 1)(World Biography 1) The purpose of the poem is to address the role of humans as part of the “Great Chain of Being.” In other words, it speaks of man as just one small part of an unfathomably complex universe.
Pope urges us to learn from what is around us, what we can observe ourselves in nature, and to not pry into God’s business or question his ways; For everything that happens, both good and bad, happens for a reason.