Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine is driven by the same impulses that energize such earlier works as the pamphlet Common Sense (1776) and a series of papers gathered under the title The American Crisis (1776-1783). In Rights of Man (1791-1792) he expresses his hatred of enslavement and his belief that all people have the natural right to be free of all tyranny—physical, mental, and spiritual. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Where liberty is, there is my country.” Paine replied, “Where liberty is not, there is mine.” This idealistic altruism motivated him to give his writings to the world without hope of financial remuneration.
In approach and style, The Age of Reason is similar also to the earlier works. The author is direct, candid, and simple; he appeals to common sense and presents what to him is overwhelming evidence for his arguments. The author is at times ironic, jeering, or sarcastic. He never writes down to his audience or forgets for whom he is writing.
It is one of the ironies of the literary and theological world that The Age of Reason, which, although written to express the author’s doubts regarding traditional religion, was intended primarily to save the world from atheism, brought against Paine the charge of atheism. Paine, in The Age of Reason, seeks to combat atheism. As a result of this book, the great reputation he earlier enjoyed as one of the prime...
(The entire section is 1720 words.)
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