Misanthropy in the work of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope
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This thesis investigates the use of misanthropy as a rhetorical tool in the work (in particular the satire) of Swift and Pope. It deals with the connection between these two writers' perception of society and their desire to attack it with satire, and also their own perceived positions in society. It examines precedent and tradition for their approach, and pinpoints their primary objectives as regards the rhetorical use of misanthropy. The investigation then attempts to identify a coherent agenda for the use of rhetorical misanthropy in the work of each writer, and examines how their relationship with society affects their respective satirical voices. It then examines their characteristic methods, and attempts to glean from these an outline of the general ideology to which each subscribes in his satirical agenda. Using Gulliver's Travels as its main point of reference, it then examines the attempts of the misanthropic thinker to find a satisfactory place in society, and the relationship this search bears to the intellectual development of each writer. The thesis then deals with Swift's and Pope's attitudes to women; it recognizes their place in the eighteenth century (and earlier) 'phallocentric' tradition, and details the methods they use to perpetuate this tradition. It examines the ways in which these writers attempt to present women as inherently detrimental to the progress of society, and also the techniques they propose for controlling this potential destructiveness. The thesis attempts to show how these writers felt they could remodel the structure of society, both in their own fields of knowledge and in general. It identifies the importance of a rhetorical persona as a satirical tool, and suggests that Pope and Swift may be set in a literary and philosophical context which opens the potential for mindless invective and groundbreaking dynamic satire in excitingly equal measure.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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