2 Answers | Add Yours
Yes, the 'place of man' was an important Neo-Classical theme. I would review concept of "Great Chain of Being" as Pope alludes to this quite a bit in Essay. In this chain, harmony and order must be maintained and if one element is out of place, virtue becomes vice. He includes the belief that humans were PART of an ordered word, a world maintained by reason. Reason and virtue were inseparable to Pope. Pride, in particular could lead man away from his place of "right reason." So, man should not overreach by trying to over-reach Nature. Thus, copy nature as did the ancients, becasue "all nature is but art, unknown to thee" anyway and "Whatever is, is right." The Essay on Man supports a hierarchical view of the world, a view later attacked by the Romantic poets.
The historical aspects of the Neoclassical period are important to developing an understanding of literature from that period. I suggest reading the background information at the web sites I have below.
One major theme of Neoclassicism is the place of man in society: the ways in which the needs of the community or society at large trump the needs of the individual. Pope makes an argument as to why this must be the case, which follows. One way for the individual to cope with the responsibilities of living in society is to prize reason over passion. Doing so allows a citizen to avoid the mistake of pride, or excessive passion for the self. Pope posits ways in which the pride of individuals frays the fabric of human fellowship and social connections.
There is much more than this to Pope's essay; I hope this points you in the right direction.
We’ve answered 319,197 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question