Man Intended to Present Term Paper

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He says that to deny their existence is wrong even if many vices are blended with virtues to soften the boundaries separating the two. "If white and black bend, soften, and unite / A thousand ways, is there no black or white?" (II. ll. 212-213) But neoclassicists refused to blame God for any ugliness in the world. They instead sought to justify it and also believed that it is through intellect that man can discern the significance of various things whether good or bad. He puts forth the classic question: "This light and darkness in our chaos join'd, / What shall divide?" And then goes on to offer a neoclassicist reply: "The God within the mind" (II. ll. 202-203).

Neoclassicist poets and writers appeared to understand the inherent limitations of man. They did not see man as being fundamentally good but recognizes his failings, weaknesses and frailties. Man was not perfect and neoclassicist poets including Pope accepted this. Therefore instead of glorifying man, they sought to glorify God who accepted man's limitations and blessed with intellect to distinguish between right and wrong and follow the right path. Pope could see that two men possessing similar powers may choose to apply them for different purposes. One may use it for the betterment of mankind and the other for its destruction. Like Nero and Titus. "Nero reigns a Titus if he will" (II. l. 198).

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Pope maintained that man was perfect only when we saw him as God's work of art. This means that while man himself is imperfect, God's creation is not. "Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault; / Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought" (I. 69-70). There is a mind, a reasoning faculty, thinking power, discerning capability that could help man become perfect only if he applied it properly. But most men did not really use intellect and failed to see the whole picture: "respecting Man, whatever wrong we call, / May, must be right, as relative to all" (I. ll. 51-52) and "tis but a part we see, and not a whole" (I. l.60). He felt that whenever man was unhappy in a certain situation, he saw it as God's fault and considered it an injustice. "If Man's unhappy, God's unjust." (I. l. 118)

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Pope also instructs man not to rebel. This is another neoclassicist characteristic. Neoclassicist did not see any reason why man should rebel. During the Renaissance, rebellion was seen as an essential part of genius. It was felt that all men with higher than average capabilities rebelled since they found the world to be an imperfect, unjust and cruel place. On the other hand neoclassicist felt that world was inherently just if we kept the bigger picture in view. "Aspiring to be Angels, "Men rebel" (I. l. 128). But Pope equated rebellion with playing God. He maintained that by calling an event unjust or unfair, we were only trying to be God- as if we knew better than Him what was right or wrong. "Snatch from the hand the balance and the rod, / Rejudge his justice, be the God of God!" (I. ll. 121-122) Neoclassicism advocated patience and forbearance. "Hope humbly then...Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore!" (I. ll.91-92)

'Essay on man" is a faith-affirming poem-one that helps man see meaning and purpose behind the otherwise chaotic world. Neoclassicism in this sense based on more reasonable beliefs than Renaissance yet there are times when we can see through the neoclassicist facade. Man is but human after all and there are times when despite his best intentions, he is unable to purpose behind something that appears obviously unjust. Neoclassicist poets and writers have also been accused on turning their backs to the very views they advocated. Pope himself makes slight human error when he writes:

Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear,

Were there all harmony, all virtue here...

But ALL subsists by elemental strife;

And Passions are the elements of Life. (I. ll. 165-168)

If strife is what provide subsistence then it means chaos is something deliberately created and not everything is after all as harmonious as neoclassicist felt it was. Neoclassicism was still a worthy reaction to Renaissance.


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Man Intended to Present.  (2005, October 4).  Retrieved September 18, 2020, from

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"Man Intended to Present."  4 October 2005.  Web.  18 September 2020. <>.

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"Man Intended to Present."  October 4, 2005.  Accessed September 18, 2020.