Samuel Pepys Diary Especially in Its Online Term Paper

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Samuel Pepys Diary

Especially in its online format, the diary of Samuel Pepys reads similar to a personal blog. In fact, the main difference between the diary of Samuel Pepys and a modern blog is the type of media used, even more so than the content. If Pepys had access to digital media undoubtedly he would have been a blogger rather than a diarist. His experiences and his opinions would have made a blog interesting enough to become fairly well-read throughout the world. When we read blogs from individuals from different cultures, their geographic separation enables us to peek into diverse worldviews and cultures. In the same way, reading the Pepys diary online allows readers to peer into the past.

Thus, part of the reason why Samuel Pepys' diary seems contemporary is because it has been archived in digital format. Modern readers can and do approach the diary just as they would any other online content. Its digital format appeals especially to younger readers who might be overwhelmed by the scope of a print edition, whereas hypertext enables the more piecemeal style that the diary is conducive to.

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The key literary differences between a modern blog and Samuel Pepys' diary include tone, style, and diction. The language that Pepys uses to describe his everyday life differs from that which would be used today and can feel clunky. Nevertheless, the content remains surprisingly current. Moreover, Samuel Pepys was a learned man who attended Cambridge. His association with Edward Montagu made Pepys privy to political matters, which allowed him to form educated opinions and offer commentary on what was going on in England during the 17th century. Thus, we can learn much about 17th century English history as it was perceived not just by official Cambridge historians but also by ordinary people.

Term Paper on Samuel Pepys Diary Especially in Its Online Assignment

Pepys also interacted with a wide range of people from different social class backgrounds. Many of his entries detail parties and pub visits, during which he encountered differences of opinion and lifestyle. His intelligence and curiosity allow Pepys to not simply describe his surroundings but also to analyze them. At the same time, the way Pepys integrates the mundane details with an overarching attitude is remarkable and makes the diary easy to read. For instance, an early entry describes his going to and from the office with relatively boring wedding dinner he was obliged to attend. Pepys describes, "A sorry dinner, not any thing handsome or clean, but some silver plates they borrowed of me. My wife was here too. So a great deal of talk, and I seemingly merry, but took no pleasure at all," (Friday 22 February 1666/67). Similarly, Pepys details petty politics well. He describes bickering among colleagues, and the ways in which social activities serve as extensions of the office. Frequently, Pepys finds himself at dinner parties, which become opportunities for not just gossip but for the exploration of political views. For instance he writes, "He told me several particulars of the King's coming thither, which was mighty pleasant, and shews how mean a thing a king is, how subject to fall, and how like other men he is in his afflictions," (Wednesday 20 February 1666/1667). After all, Pepys writes at a pivotal time in English history.

It is far more naturalistic to combine personal reflections with acute observations. As Pepys writes without the typical constraints of a historian, he can include what might otherwise be considered mundane or irrelevant details. Details such as his view of women and his relationship with his wife round out a historiography. The picture of 17th century England is far more complete thanks to Samuel Pepys. Modern historians find Samuel Pepys' diary especially valuable when viewed from a feminist point-of-view, given that women are featured even if not in politically powerful roles. The simple presence of women in Pepys diary entries demonstrates women's role in specific strata of 17th century society: what can best be described as middle class.

Even readers unfamiliar with English history and who cannot possibly learn the details directly through Pepys' diary will appreciate some of the more sordid and candid entries. Pepys, for example, writes unabashedly about his womanizing and extramarital affairs. The reader is drawn into small accounts such as when he spies a pretty woman and flirts. Yet Samuel Pepys also demonstrates the ability to grow and mature even though he is in his 30s. Several entries especially later in the diary reveal his honest love for his wife, and appears to view her as a true domestic partner. This should impress modern readers who might assume a more strictly patriarchal social universe existed during the 17th century.

He also writes about issues as mundane as fashion, which of course completes the picture of what 17th century Britain was like. On Sunday October 7, 1660 Pepys writes, "To White Hall on foot, calling at my father's to change my long black cloak for a short one (long cloaks being now quite out)." In the same entry he switches to deeper matters, elucidating the reduced role that religion was playing in the daily lives of his contemporaries: "I perceive my Lord is grown a man very indifferent in all matters of religion, and so makes nothing of these things." Montagu continues to contemplate the meaningless of religion in the modern era, and Pepys knows this. On October 22, 1660 Pepys writes, "I found him to be a perfect Sceptic, and said that all things would not be well while there was so much preaching, and that it would be better if nothing but Homilies were to be read in Churches." These analyses allow for a far fuller portrait of life in the 17th century than a more erudite historian could possibly offer. By the same token a less inquisitive or intelligent writer could not accomplish what Pepys does in his diary.

Pepys also spares no gory details when writing about this tumultuous period of English history, when greusome public beheadings and hangings were par for the course. "I saw the limbs of some of our new traitors set upon Aldersgate, which was a sad sight to see; and a bloody week this and the last have been, there being ten hanged, drawn, and quartered," (Saturday 20 October 1660). One remarkable entry in 1660 describes Pepys' amusing interest in watching the beheading of the King. He treats the matter so lightly as to devote only one sentence to it, switching quickly to what he ate that day and how he bickered with his wife. "Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross. From thence to my Lord's, and took Captain Cuttance and Mr. Sheply to the Sun Tavern, and did give them some oysters," (Saturday 13 October 1660). As with the entire diary, Pepys humanizes history. He mentions gambling and drinking in the same paragraph as weighty issues, which keeps the diary compelling for modern readers.

It is not just his inclusion of juicy details that make Pepys' diary seem so vital. Some entries make it seem like Pepys is not removed in time at all. He attends plays at a place called the Cockpit, which could easily be the name of a modern venue. Similarly, the names of English pubs have not changed much since the 17th century. Pepys gossips a great deal, revealing how little has changed on the level of general human discourse. On October 18, 1660 he notes, "The. Turner hath sent for a pair of doves that my wife had promised her; and because she did not send them in the best cage, she sent them back again with a scornful letter, with which I was angry,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Samuel Pepys Diary Especially in Its Online.  (2010, February 24).  Retrieved May 11, 2021, from

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"Samuel Pepys Diary Especially in Its Online."  24 February 2010.  Web.  11 May 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Samuel Pepys Diary Especially in Its Online."  February 24, 2010.  Accessed May 11, 2021.