Just a quick note about the readings for next week. Since we moved the paper back to the 12th lets also push Swift’s Tale of a Tub to the back of the line for next week. So we’ll be focusing on finishing Pope and then the satiric battle between Swift and Montague. Ok, the questions:
(1) Pope originally wrote the poem to bring two families together again, a nice goodwill mission for a poet. And clearly the poem involves several scenes of violence, granted its mock violence, but violence just the same. So the question is, do you think that Pope’s final canto does a good job of discharging the violence that builds up through the arch of this poem? Or do you feel that readers are somehow left holding the bag while gazing into the starry heavens?
(2) From the arming scence, to the jeweled cross, to the transformation of gold from necklace to bodkin pin, the poem is rife with ornaments. There are commodities of empire, commodified world religions, reified faces for the faces you meet as T.S. Eliot might have put it. Is this poem a celebration or a critique of ornamentation? What exactly is an ornament here and what purposes can and does it serve? What about the poem itself–a highly wrought thing and possibly ornament itself.
(3) Satire is “the literary art of diminishing or derogating a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking toward it attitudes of amusement, contempt, scorn, or indignation … comedy evokes laughter mainly as an end in itself, while satire derides; that is, it uses laughter as a weapon, and against a butt that exists outside of the work itself . . . [it] has usually been justified by those who practice it as a corrective of human vice or folly” (M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms). Are we laughing at Swift’s description of a ladies dressing room? Is this really satire, if so, what is being satirized–woman, society, idealized love, men, poetic forms themselves?
I hope that’s enough to get the juices flowing–an apt metaphor when it comes to Swift. Good luck with the papers and I’ll see you all next Tue.