"Solving Man's Vice"

Essay by jordan8900 January 2005

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Manos Mathew

English 221

Prof. Scai

"Essay on Man" is a poem written by Alexander Pope that attempts to make man understand his role in this universe. This poem is another way of Pope trying to address the common thoughts that we all have and to solve the problems we face based on reason. Pope attempts to do this by pointing out the fallacy of mankind and how it can be corrected. The fallacy of mankind is related to man's pride and this can only be corrected through humility and resignation. These two themes are an intricate part in the ultimate message of this poem.

Pride is a tremendous vice for mankind; it makes man think that he is above anything in the material or immaterial world. Pope constantly reminds the reader that pride is the root of all evil. When men exhibit pride, they tend to think they are above God.

Pope states that our universe has a vast number of beings that are linked together at a specific place on a great chain that is upheld by God. When men have pride, they attempt to transcend their place from the chain and try to be something their not. They try to elevate themselves to a level of authority that is higher than that of God. By doing so man is creating chaos, he is disrupting the general order of nature. According to Pope, "the gen'ral order, since the whole began, is kept in nature, and is kept in man."(I, v, 5). Man is the only being in nature that has the ability to think, speak, and even doubt. Because of the fact that man has these characteristics, especially the fact that man can doubt, he is the only being on the great chain that can...