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Pope knew about confining roles: as a Roman Catholic in England he was not allowed to vote, hold property, attend university, live within ten miles of London, and had to pay double taxes.Furthermore, his physical deformity hindered his movement and caused him constant pain, both physical and mental (as his physicality was often the subject of harsh ridicule by his critics).
An Essay on Man Summary Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Man" begins with an introduction related to how Pope wants his friend, Lord Bolingbroke to abandon all of his plans in order to assist him in a mission meant to "vindicate the ways of God to man".
Section 1: The first section emphasizes the fact that man "can judge only with regard to our own systems", as people do not have the ability to comprehend the greater scheme of things.
Pope was an outsider all of his life; he understood that he filled a role in society (outcast), and he subsequently saw that his contemporaries, filling a higher role in society, did not see when they were overstepping boundaries.
Pope knew what is like to be punished for such presumptions; they did not.
When “An Essay On Man” was first published, it was done anonymously.
When people read this, without knowing the authorship, they hailed it as a major work of the enlightenment–perhaps the pinnacle of what the enlightenment stood for.Section 2: The second section claims that man should "not be deemed imperfect" and that people are perfect when considering the position that they need to have.The "general Order of Things" is responsible for the place that people occupy there and there is a strict hierarchy that the world works in regard to.Writing things like, “Whatever IS, is right.” However, the form is what relates this work to the enlightenment.Almost an epic poem, the ‘essay’ was written in iambic pentameter, with lines which are easy to digest but challenging to think about.Most would say it was simply because people didn’t like Pope, so they’re not going to give his work a second chance.However, I will go one step further and say that An Essay On Man was so radical (radical things are cool right?Yes, Pope told us his opinion, but he encourages us to think for ourselves as well.Other Enlightenment philosophers and writers were just telling us what to think. Not only did it challenge contemporary scientific efforts with lines like,”The proper study of mankind is Man,” but it encouraged readers to think for themselves.Pope was aware of the document’s controversial power; he published it anonymously. More importantly, in a time when sciences and the pursuit of knowledge were the leading ideals of intellectualism, how did Pope dare to question them?What was motivating him to even question such ideas?