Obscenity in Rochester's Work Essay

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Obscenity in Rochester's Work "Rage at last confirms me impotent" (Rochester). How far is obscenity in Rochester's work motivated by disquiet with the world at large, and how successful is Rochester's ribaldry in fulfilling its satiric purpose? Rochester's poetry has been denounced by many as obscene and immoral. Samuel Johnson condemned his work and said that he lived and wrote "with an avowed contempt of decency and order, a total disregard to every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious observation." However, he is not without his admirers. Hazlitt respected his work, and remarked that "his contempt for everything that others respect almost amounts to sublimity". It is true that Rochester's work contains voluminous…show more content…
It also contains some strange ideas concerning the psyches of women. The idea in the poem that a woman should be pleased to awake from a slumber where she thought she was losing her virginity to awake to a pig between her legs and still be "innocent and pleased" seems like a peculiar idea. It perhaps begins to explain some of the feelings Rochester has towards women. The idea of the woman not being in need of a man could have been a point of insult to Rochester, which could be why he describes her independence of men in such a perverse way: "Frighted she wakes, and waking frigs. Nature thus kindly eased In dreams raised by her murmuring pigs And her own thumb between her legs, She's innocent and pleased." (Song: 36-40) Although the poem contains many sexual overtones, n this case, Rochester's obscenity does not seem to be directed at or motivated by any particular events going on around him, as he is basing the style of his poem on the style of Ovid's erotic poems. It does not in fact appear to be particularly obscene at first glance, in that everything he writes is cloaked in metaphor, so it is how the reader interprets the poem rather than straightforward ribaldry like some of his other poems - Signior Dildo for instance. Another poem that is similar to this song in that the rudeness doesn't seem to be motivated by his agitation with the rest of the world is The Fall. This is an important poem for

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