Pope Alexander is a renowned poet of his time. In his many poetry and literary works, he has focused on several themes affecting the human race. Particularly, in “An Essay on Man,” he navigates the human race with its relation to supernatural beings and how they relate to one another in the world. He also addresses evils done in the world. Swift, on the other hand, is a famous writer of his time. In the book Gulliver’s Travels, he engages the reader using wide-ranging irony with the intention of making the reader see more than what is in the surface. In his book, he works to see the reader exercise proper judgment and think a bit more than aaverage. He is sure that by using this literary style, he will capture the attention of his target audience.
Pope’s work is directed to aristocrat Henry St. John, who could be believed to be a representation of all human races. Pope tells Henry to open up his eyes and see the wider picture. Many people are made blind by material wealth and perishable things, which make them, lose their sense of humanity. They may engage in evil practices such as malicious intentions against their fellow human beings and murder. Pope endeavors to show his friend how and why together they should overcome the evil in the world. By doing so, they would be maintaining goodness though they have to do away with so much of their world then. According to Pope, goodness entails having empathy, showing mercy, and finding good in others, as evidenced in one of his Epistles when he says: “Teach me, like thee, in various Nature wise, To fall with dignity, with temper rise” (Pope, Epistle 4: Line 380). Pope’s assertion in this quote is to try and fit into the shoes of others who are filled with sorrow. According to Pope, only when a person is able to feel what other people feel, id he/she able to connect and get along with them. Therefore, the aspect of goods as illustrated by Pope requires sacrifice and commitment. It entails denying self the happiness and joy to serve others. Additionally, goodness is all about overlooking the mistakes and failures of other people by taking what is important in their lives. Pope reiterates that every human person has some flaws and, therefore, supposed to appreciate the goodness in others. Also, Pope defines order in the universe as the necessity of man to submit to God’s system. In other words, Pope believes that man occupies a natural position in the order of the universe but is oblivious of the existing external processes surrounding him. As such, man has no authority to question the motives of God. Pope explains how people have spread evil all over the world but claim that God is unjust since He let people suffer. Human beings take other human beings and use them as slaves. They destroy nature’s beauty to create their homes and farms. They treat others with unexplained contempt but in the end, they blame it on God. He explains that man’s pride and desire has gone so high that others want to be angels and angels want to be God. Men are not satisfied with the rule of nature; they want to make their own laws. This displays their selfishness since these laws intend to them at the expense of other human beings.
Swift views human beings in various perspectives, but a multi-part statement that summarizes his opinions is that “humans have an instinctive ability for reason, but they often fail to use it”. This statement is book is brought into light during Gulliver’s voyages. All along, Gulliver visits strange places where a real human being would not be thought to visit. First, he goes to the land of tiny creatures that resemble human beings. In another instance, Gulliver visits a land of unbelievably huge people and elsewhere he finds himself in a land of creatures resembling horses with a human way of life. Ironically, these horses keep human-like creatures that are totally like the animal. In another place, Gulliver finds knowledgeable and wise people performing foolish research. In the end, after reaching home, he cannot stand the stench emanating from his close countrymen. It is a big irony for a patriotic man, who has defended his nation and shown love to his country to return home and treat his countrymen with such insolence. In other situations, Swift’s use irony to show the contrast between what is said and what is intended. For instance, he portrays emperor of Lilliput as masculine and great in power. Yet in real sense, it is impossible to find a person as tiny as the people of Lilliput having the qualities and features in the context.
Swift’s opinion on humanity is expressed through the book, Gulliver’s Travels. Though the book is meant for children, in a way, it is the best channel used to attack man’s evil and idiocy in his time. He uses irony among other strong figurative languages to bring his point home. The story is about Gulliver and all the nations he visited. He gives an account of what he found in these nations in irony. The tiny men Gulliver finds in Lilliput are used ironically to represent England at his time. The culture of the people in Lilliput is a replica of the picture Gulliver had seen in the capital of England. Swift uses irony to show what Gulliver discovered about succession in the town of Lilliput“…candidates petition the emperor to entertain his Majesty and the Court with a dance on the rope and whoever jumps the highest without falling succeeds in the office. Very often, the chief Ministers themselves are commanded to show their skill and to convince the Emperor that they have not lost their faculty…” (Swift 74).
Everything was planned to favor an identified group of people. Still, on his voyage, Gulliver discovers that religion is on the forefront to divide people instead of doing otherwise. It stands holy but, in essence, it is in the fight with each other over small issues that could be handled with little talks. On another piece of the book, Jonathan Swift shows Gulliver in the nation of huge people called Brobdingnag. Gulliver shows the country as rich in farm produce and having mighty men. The king in this land is peace loving, kind, and wise since he does not like engaging in fights. However, the irony here is that the streets of this great land are filled with people who beg and depend on the sweat of others. Here, Swift portrays his ill and negative feelings about royals of his time. In most of the voyages, as depicted by Swift, Gulliver intends to show his patriotism by giving high regards of his county’s prowess in war. However wise and knowledgeable he finds his hosts; he will always try to outshine them and try to show them the splendor of the nation of Houyhnhnms as one among many places Gulliver visited. He thought he and his countrymen were more cultured than those creatures. Gulliver with his gullibility makes these people wonder how he and his nation would achieve all he mentions. His intention is to have the places as outposts for his country under his name. On the contrary, he is not stricken by the wild human-like creature in this land. Indeed, Gulliver is a representative of the viewer’s objective implying that he does not judgments for other people.
Essentially, Jonathan Swift manages to display his opinion on human race. His rich use of irony and other symbolic expressions capture the attention of his readers making them ‘think out of the box’. He is able to draw a clear picture of people and their habitual living in his time. Additionally, using such rich styles in his book, Swift expresses his attitude towards the highly regarded royals and their corrupt modes of leadership. On the other hand, Alexander Pope succeeds in addressing the evils committed in his time and the way they negatively influence the lowly in the society. He shows that, even in a community engulfed in a complete quagmire of moral decadence, it is always good to strive and do well to others because in the end, God will be the judge and He will determine the good and the bad.
Pope, Alexander. An essay on man. Vol. 1. 1836.
Swift, Jonathan. “Gulliver’s Travels.” Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 1995. 27-266