Comparison of Pope and Swift Essay

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Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift in their respective poems, The Rape of the Lock and The Progress of Beauty, offer opposite representations of the nature and function of cosmetics in eighteenth century society. In The Rape of the Lock, Pope gives a positive representation of cosmetic’s nature and function in eighteenth century society. On the other hand, Swift’s representation takes a very negative tone. Both poets clearly appreciate and admire the natural beauty of a woman and their opposite opinions and therefore representation of the nature and function of cosmetics, springs from this admiration. Pope, whilst slightly ridiculing cosmetics through his use of satire, represents cosmetics in a positive light through portraying it as …show more content…
Swift opposes this representation, rather representing the nature of cosmetics as negative in The Progress of Beauty. As opposed to Pope’s representation of the function of cosmetics as an enhancer of natural beauty, Swift represents the function of cosmetics as being a destroyer of natural beauty. A number of times in The Progress of Beauty, Swift alludes to the destructive power of cosmetics due to its poisonous elements. Swift writes that Venus “taught [women] where to find White lead and Lusitanian dish.” (Line 60) Swift represents these cosmetics as causing women to waste away; “So rotting Celia strolls the street.” (Line 103) All of Pope’s descriptions of cosmetics as applied to Celia’s face in the poem, are ones of hideousness and disgustingness. The make-up causes her lips to be cracked and her eyes to be gummy. (Line 15) She becomes a “mingled mass of dirt and sweat.” (Line 20) There is nothing appealing or attractive in the use of cosmetics as Swift represents it. Rather Swift represents the nature and function of cosmetics as a disgusting thing that destructs the beauty of women. Cosmetics are not represented by Swift simply as a temporary destruction of beauty, but also as having the function of permanently destructing beauty, of doing irreparable damage because of its poisonous elements. The nature of cosmetics as represented by Swift is negative, and its function is represented only as one of destruction.

Pope’s representation of the nature and function

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