An Essay on "An Essay on Criticism": Derision as Inspiration

Cameron R Butt


This paper responds to Alexander Pope's derisive reproach of his contemporary literary critics in "An Essay on Criticism" (1711).  His condescending tone initially intimidates, then challenges a stubborn reader who longs to prove him wrong.  In stumbling verse, my speaker's rhyming thoughts capture a shifting attitude, moving from intimidation to defiance.  Though it uses an unconventional, admittedly less explicit argumentative style, this paper demonstrates how Pope's derision might have inspired his contemporaries to clean up their act.

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EISSN  1927-4599
University of Victoria