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More on the Rhetoric and Imagery of Pope's Arbuthnot

Richard H. Douglass
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
Vol. 13, No. 3, Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Summer, 1973), pp. 488-502
Published by: Rice University
DOI: 10.2307/450002
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/450002
Page Count: 15
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More on the Rhetoric and Imagery of Pope's Arbuthnot
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Abstract

A close reading of several passages from the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot reveals the subtlety of Pope's associating himself with great men and dissociating himself from dunces as a means of professing and dramatizing his own internal harmony. A cluster of ingestion images, as yet not fully explored, furthers the impression of a concordant persona. In his defense for publishing his poetry, Pope characterizes his supporters with epithets that suggest his own virtues. Further, the variety and climactic presentation of his friends' responses establish a balance in the persona between bold self-assertion and discriminating honesty. In the flatterers' inept comparisons between Pope and historical figures. Pope disarms his enemies by confronting the fact of his deformity in a comic guise. Third, Pope gains from his association with Arbuthnot, in one instance appropriating Arbuthnot's benignity by exploiting the medicinal connotations of the word "drop." Through images of biting and dining Pope contrasts the hunger, satiety, malice, and shallowness of the dunces with the generosity of his own character.

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