Limitations in The Writing of Alexander Pope

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      Superficiality. Pope's excellence as poet is technical and of a rather superficial kind. There are no depths in Pope and there are no heights. He does not show any depth of human nature nor any subtlety of the human mind. He has no eye for the beauty of external nature nor for the grandeur of human character. There is no original thought in his poetry. He expresses conventional thought and commonplace maxims of morality, and his merit lies in brilliant expression. But the brilliance of his thought and his language, shines with a cold glitter and may evoke our admiration but never warm our heart as true poetry does.

      The Limited Range of Pope Poetry. Pope's poetry is not only superficial but it is limited in its range. Firstly it was a poetry of society in the city - of smart society, as in The Rape of the Lock - a poetry of satire, and a philosophic poetry, which is dry and has no warmth of experience behind it. Pope said: "The proper study of mankind is man." But "it was. mankind as seen only in the small society of a city - mankind in London and in literary London". Stopford Brooke rightly remarks:" The vast range of humanity beyond London was left without sympathy, as if it did not exist. This was not only insular, it was insolent."

      Versification Limited to The Heroic Couplet. So far as Pope's versification is concerned it was limited to the heroic-couplet. Though he handled this measure with masterly skill, it shows mechanical skill rather than genuine art.

      "Pope", says Lowell, "was the chief founder of an artificial poetry which in his hands was living and powerful, because he used it to express artificial modes of thinking and an artificial state of society. Measured by any high standard of imagination, he will be found wanting; tried by any test of wit, he is unrivaled."

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