And Life Contrasted-Or An Essay On Man

The seventh stanza explores the vastness of the sensory and cognitive spectrums in relation to all earthly creatures.

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He places his primary examples in those who audaciously judge the work of God and declare one person to be too fortunate and another not fortunate enough.

He also satirizes Man’s selfish content in destroying other creatures for his own benefit, while complaining when they believe God to be unjust to Man.

Pope capitalizes on his point with the final and resonating couplet: “who but wishes to invert the laws of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.” This connects to the previous stanza in which the soul is explored; those who wrestle with their place in the universe will disturb the chain of being and warrant punishment instead of gain rewards in the after-life. In the beginning of the fifth stanza, Pope personifies Pride and provides selfish answers to questions regarding the state of the universe.

He depicts Pride as a hoarder of all gifts that Nature yields.

Furthermore, he asserts that because we can only analyze what is around us, we cannot be sure that there is not a greater being or sphere beyond our level of comprehension; it is most logical to perceive the universe as functioning through a hierarchal system. Pope utilizes the beginning of section three to elaborate on the functions of the chain of being.

He claims that each creatures’ ignorance, including our own, allows for a full and happy life without the possible burden of understanding our fates.

These bounds, or the Chain of Being, designate each living thing’s place in the universe, and only God can see the system in full.

Pope is adamant in God’s omniscience, and uses that as a sure sign that we can never reach a level of knowledge comparable to His.

Those who “blindly creep” are consumed by laziness and a willful ignorance, and just as bad are those who “sightless soar” and believe that they understand more than they can possibly know.

Thus, it is imperative that we can strive to gain knowledge while maintaining an acceptance of our mental limits. Pope writes the first section to put the reader into the perspective that he believes to yield the correct view of the universe.

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