Irony in Alexander Pope's five major epistles.

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The thesis examines Pope's major epistles to show the range and intention of his irony. Throughout the thesis is an analysis of the methods and devices Pope uses in order to achieve irony. There is a discussion of the mock-epic and of classical and Biblical allusions which serve to contrast the values of Pope's age with those of other times. The irony of tones is examined to show the contrast between what the tone implies and the language or image suggests. Irony of manner is discussed through a study of the detachment of the speaker, whose attitude may be one of polite wonder or self-abnegation and apparent tolerance. Verbal irony, one of the main themes, is discussed as denotative, connotative, or associative irony, as well as pun, juxtaposition and zeugma. The first part, a general introduction to Pope's irony, shows that it is irony both of form and matter, and that his method is one of contrast--the contrast between expression and meaning, between appearance and reality, and between the actual and the ideal. The second, which discusses the remarkable fusion between Pope's thought and image, shows that Pope speaks through his images, rather than just using them to illustrate a point. The following three chapters examine the portraits in detail to show that Pope uses his characters to portray the qualities and habits he wishes to castigate. iii The first deals with the misers and spendthrifts in the epistles to Bathurst and Burlington, the second with inconsistency and the Ruling Passion in the epistles to a Lady and Cobham, and the last with bad poets and critics in the epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. The last section is simply a conclusion which notes the relation between irony and value in Pope's epistles, and shows that his irony is not just negation, but that it has a core of central values and an implied moral and social judgment.


Thesis (M.A.) - Dept. of English - Simon Fraser University

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Subject headings: 
Irony in literature.
Senior supervisor: 
Temple Maynard
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.