Essay On Criticism Shmoop Macbeth

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1711)

Quote

Horace still charms with graceful Negligence,
And without Method talks us into Sense,
Will like a Friend familiarly convey
The truest Notions in the easiest way.
He, who Supream in Judgment, as in Wit,
Might boldly censure, as he boldly writ,
Yet judg'd with Coolness tho' he sung with Fire;
His Precepts teach but what his Works inspire.

Our Criticks take a contrary Extream,
They judge with Fury, but they write with Fle'me:
Nor suffers Horace more in wrong Translations
By Wits, than Criticks in as wrong Quotations. (An Essay on Criticism, ll. 653-664)

Basic set up:

In this section of Pope's poem (yeah, it's a poem, but it's also an essay), he praises the ancient Roman poet Horace.

Thematic Analysis

The Augustans' love for the classics is reflected in these lines. Here, Pope is waxing lyrical about what a wonderful writer the ancient poet Horace was.

According to Pope, Horace is great at talking us "into Sense." He conveys to us "the truest Notions in the easiest way." Basically, if you ask Pope, Horace is so much better than all those hacks writing during Pope's own time, who "judge with Fury, but… write with Fle'me."

That's phlegm, folks. Tasty image.

Stylistic Analysis

Pope doesn't just praise Horace in this excerpt; he also tries to emulate Horace's wit and style. Look at how neat and graceful those heroic couplets are: "Horace still charms with graceful Negligence,/ And without Method talks us into Sense, / Will like a Friend familiarly convey/ The truest Notions in the easiest way."

Like Horace, Pope is also trying to talk us into sense here. He's trying to convey "Notions" to us in the "easiest way," that is, by employing a style and language that's graceful, convincing, and witty all at once.

LADY MACBETH
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; 
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it.
[…]                           Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valoor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
 To have thee crowned withal. (1.5.15-20;28-33)

According to Lady Macbeth, her husband is ambitious, but he's also too "kind" to do what it takes to murder Duncan so that he, Macbeth, can be king. So what's a wife to do? Lady Macbeth plans to "chastise" Macbeth with the "valour of [her] tongue," which is another way of saying she's going to nag her husband into taking action so he can be "crown'd withal." This speech establishes Lady Macbeth as the dominant partner in the relationship, which inverts typical 17th-century gender and social roles. Since husbands were supposed to "rule" their wives in the same way that kings ruled countries, Lady Macbeth's plan is just another version of treason: taking power that doesn't belong to you.

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