What are the similarities and the differences in the use of satire by Alexander Pope & by Jonathan Swift?

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janeyb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

hmm...well by Alexander Pope, I assume you're referring to his most well known example of satire, "The Rape of the Lock, and for Swift you are referring to Gulliver's Travels. The two satire's are alike in the fact that they both involve epic journeys. Pope's, however, is written in verse form (using couplets) while Swift's is in the more traditional narrative. The Rape of the Lock offers an ironic perspective on contemporary manners combined with a deep appreciation for the vitality of the eighteenth-century beau monde. With sensitivity, exquisite taste, high-spirited wit, and gentle satire, the poem forces a continuous comparison between insignificant and significant things, between the mundane and the exotic. Both Swift and Pope take on the vanity and trite values that they see in their own culture Pope concentrates mainly on that criticism. Swift's Gulliver's travels, on the other hand, while satirizing common values and materialism of his time, also takes on the government, and makes the government of England one of his most abusive targets. Swift is unrelenting in his criticism of high society, and though Pope tackles that subject as well, there seems to be a strange dichotomy between his criticism and admiration for the highest of society. Swift, however, remains steadfast in his criticism. Both Pope and Swift use satire and fantastical places to set their stories of overindulgence, criticizing the society in which they lived. Swift, however, took it much father than Pope.

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Gulliver's Travels

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