Monday, April 2, 2012


While furthering my research on satire I came across an article discussing Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock as well as what I had based my original interest on the subject of satire, Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.
This article discussed some important ideas that I learned were key to the roots of satirical writing: 
  • an obsession with decorum
  • innate sense of moral and political supremacy 
  • rationality 
Satire ultimately criticizes all of these ideas that the enlightenment era had established and without them there would be no purpose to satirical writing.   
"Pope and Swift, well known for their sharply perceptive works, both looked to rhetorical masters of the rational, classical past and their separate satirical archetypes for inspiration." (Szwec)
This being said The Rape of the Lock delicately expresses society with a sly but polished voice by holding up a mirror to the vanities of the upper class. Alexander Pope does not directly attack the British aristocracy, but rather presents it in such a way that gives the reader a new perspective from which it is evident that the actions in the story are foolish and ridiculous. A slight mockery of the upper class, more delicate and lyrical than his brutal counterpart, Jonathan Swift. Pope nonetheless is able to effectively illuminate the moral degradation of society to the public.

I will be discussing Jonathan Swift's take on satire in a different post...

Szwec, Jonathan. "Satire in 18th Century British Society: Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal". Student Pulse. 2011. 2 April 2012.

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