The Ramist Logic of Edward Taylor's Upon a Spider Catching a Fly

924 Words 4 Pages
The Ramist Logic of Edward Taylor's Upon a Spider Catching a Fly

Like other Puritanical writers of his generation, Edward Taylor looked to nature and utilized it as an example of a belief system that he had already deemed factual. The use Ramist logic here may seem irrational to many. The very essence of logic commands that we must first look toward nature and then draw conclusions from it. In his work, "Upon a Spider Catching a Fly", Taylor applies his doctrine in advance by using the interaction between an arachnid and a certain contrasting insect as an example of the Calvinist theory of predestination; the belief that one's fate cannot be influenced by one's works or earthly deeds. It is also part of his belief system, however, that
…show more content…
The reader is then introduced to the wasp who, by some folly, has become entangled in the spider's treacherous web. Instead of immediately pouncing on the trapped wasp, the spider seems instinctively aware that the Wasp has the ability to overpower him and therefore maintains a safe distance. "Lest he should fling/ His sting./ But as afraid, remote/ Didst stand hereat." Instead, the spider is afraid that if provoked, the wasp would damage his web. "Lest he should pet,/ And in a froppish, waspish heat/ Should greatly fret Thy net." In a description of the type of retaliation that would ensue if the wasp is provoked, Taylor opts to use the word "waspish", creating an adjective from the very noun that he is using it to describe. Through such a choice of grammar, Taylor is indicating that being a wasp is synonymous with being successfully defensive.

In utter juxtaposition to the "pettish wasp" is "the silly fly, Caught by his leg". Although in a similar situation to the wasp, the fly is destined for doom. Unlike its foil, it is ill-equipped to defend itself against the evil spider. The spider, as if innately aware of the fly's weakness, immediately devours the fly. "Thou by the throat took hastily And 'hind the head Bite dead." The fly never has a chance of liberation once within the deadly grasp of the spider's web. It is as if it has been created as defenseless by nature just as the wasp has been created with the
Open Document