As has been stated in the introduction, Voltaire had become well acquainted with the English poet during his stay of more than two years in England, and the two had corresponded with each other with a fair degree of regularity when Voltaire returned to the Continent.
Voltaire could have been called a fervent admirer of Pope. When the Essay on Man was published, Voltaire sent a copy to the Norman abbot Du Resnol and may possibly have helped the abbot prepare the first French translation, which was so well received. The very title of his Discours en vers sur l'homme indicates the extent Voltaire was influenced by Pope. It has been pointed out that at times, he does little more than echo the same thoughts expressed by the English poet. Even as late as , the year in which he published his poem on the destruction of Lisbon, he lauded the author of Essay on Man.
In the edition of Lettres philosophiques published in that year, he wrote: Living happily at the castle is Candide, whose name points to his character — that of one who is simple of mind and adds Voltaire ironically sound of judgement. Prominent in the baron's menage is the tutor, Doctor Pangloss, a man revered as a profound and learned philosopher, Pangloss firmly believed and taught that everything in the world was necessarily for the best end: Thus, for him and his disciples, this is indeed "the best of all possible worlds.
The significant incident in this first chapter involves Pangloss' illicit relations with a still unnamed chambermaid. So intrigued was she with this lesson in "experimental physics" and the demonstration of sufficient reason involving cause and effect that she was determined to experiment herself with the cooperation of Candide. The opportunity presented itself when the two found themselves behind a screen, but the baron discovered them. He was now an exile from his best of all possible worlds in Westphalia.
It has been held that the pompous Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh is one of the representations of Frederick the Great, with whom Voltaire had such close relations for so long a time. The four epistles which had already been published would have comprised the first book. The second book was to contain another set of epistles, which in contrast to the first book would focus on subjects such as human reason, the practical and impractical aspects of varied arts and sciences, human talent, the use of learning, the science of the world, and wit, together with "a satire against the misapplication" of those same disciplines.
The third book would discuss politics and religion, while the fourth book was concerned with "private ethics" or "practical morality. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan The proper study of Mankind is Man. With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much; Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd; Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd; Created half to rise and half to fall; Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all, Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd; The glory, jest and riddle of the world.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule— Then drop into thyself, and be a fool! In the above example, Pope's thesis is that man has learnt about nature and God's creation through science; consequently, science has given man power, but having become intoxicated by this power, man has begun to think that he is "imitating God". In response, Pope declares the species of man to be a "fool", absent of knowledge and plagued by "ignorance" in spite of all the progress achieved through science. Pope argues that humanity should make a study of itself, and not debase the spiritual essence of the world with earthly science, since the two are diametrically opposed to one another: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Retrieved 21 May The rape of the text: An Essay on Man.
Complete summary of Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of An Essay on Man.
An Essay on Man consists of four epistles, which is a term that is historically used to describe formal letters directed to a specific person. The first epistle looks at man.
Summary. The subtitle of the first epistle is “Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe,” and this section deals with man’s place in the cosmos. An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in – It is an effort to rationalize or rather "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" (). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man.
Summary and Analysis Chapter I Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List. The story begins in Westphalia at the castle of the high and mighty Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, his three-hundred-fifty-pound wife, their beautiful young daughter Cunégonde, and an unnamed son. () and popularized widely in the Essay On Man. Critical Essays Alexander Pope's Essay on Man Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List The work that more than any other popularized the optimistic philosophy, not only in England but throughout Europe, was Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (), a rationalistic effort to justify the ways of God to man philosophically.