The term neoclassical is applied to the age of Dryden and Pope in English poetry for two principal reasons. First, there was a self-conscious effort by writers to pattern their work after that of classical (meaning ancient Greek and Latin) models. Second, the poetry of the period was based on the ideals of elegance, balance, and restraint which have come to be associated with classicism in all the arts, as opposed to the more emotional and unrestrained qualities we associate with Romanticism.
Pope's Essay on Man, like all of his work, conforms to the classical aesthetic in the elegance and, almost paradoxically, the purity and simplicity of its language. The heroic couplet, in rhymed iambic pentameter, was considered the ideal metrical form in which to convey ideas in conformance with that aesthetic.
The ideas expressed by Pope in The Essay on Man are related to classicism because they are rooted in man's limitations and his acceptance of his place in the universe as an imperfect being,...
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