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Swifts Bashful Muse: A Critique of A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed - Book Report/Review Example

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‘Manner’ and the way it was defined by a close circle of affluent elite became a central concern in the philosophical and social discourses of the Augustan age…
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Swifts Bashful Muse: A Critique of A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed
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Download file to see previous pages Although written in a period after the reign of Charles II, and well into the time of Queen Anne, the poem is expressively Augustan in spirit. Swift the disillusioned misanthropist revisits the aesthetic and social concerns of an earlier generation of poets like Pope and Dryden to expose and unravel the hypocrisies of his age. The stripping down of the Drury Lane prostitute to the bare essentials becomes a trope for a virtual stripping of the social double standards. A satiric representation of the age was one of the common literary practices of the Augustan age. The Restoration of Charles II in the British throne ushered in an age of simultaneous hope and skepticism. The hope was imminent in the writings of all the major literary figures of the time, released from the oppression on literary and aesthetic practices that continued for more than a decade under the Puritan rule with Oliver Cromwell at the helm. The artistic outburst that characterized the Restoration at the same time brought about a certain degree of elitism in English society. The focus of all literary, social and aesthetic endeavors was shifted from the wide ranging Humanism of the previous era towards a strict following of ‘manners’ as defined by a narrower circle of gentry that was centered around the court. (Blamires, Page: 160)
Manners: A Question of Appearance and Reality
'Manner' and the way it was defined by a close circle of affluent elite became a central concern in the philosophical and social discourses of the Augustan age. The central concern in dealing with 'manners' as one of the major philosophical and moral questions of the Augustan age, is related to the question of appearance and reality. It was imperative that in an age with the light of royal favor shining bright on the people who were either directly or passively associated with the court, there would be a rush of people who would vouch for the being a part of the nobility and the royalty in Europe. At the same time, the major English and Irish philosophers like Burke, Hutchinson and Locke were raising up the question of nurture along with nature for the attainment of humanity at its fullest. The question of 'manners' - a clear marker of nurture and education - thus started to take a very eminent position in the discourse of Augustan England. Thus class, education and money became entangled as a determining set of factors in defining the status of an individual in defining his social position, expressed through 'manners'. (Baugh, Page: 824)

All plays and poems of the Augustan period, in one way or another, approach the question of appearance and reality. The dichotomy between the two became one of the most significant tropes for literature in the post-Restoration period. It is no surprise that in a milieu so obsessed with the question of appearance and reality, art forms like comedy and satire thrived. Augustan satire was largely devoted to this question of appearance and reality, because under the lighthearted veneer of these satires reside the more serious social issues of self-knowledge that derives its life force from a proper understanding and knowledge of the society that one finds around oneself. Much of the comic force of Augustan satires ultimately derives from the exposure of this contradiction, the contrast between what appears and what 'is'. Swift's poem is very much an exercise within this prime concern of the age. The exposition of the prostitute, as she sheds her various ornaments and endowments is an exposition of the hypocrisy of the age. The poem thus appeals and operates at two different levels. The first level is a movement from a microscosmic movement from appearance to reality, where the real 'ugly' ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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