By ~ Amber Loper
It’s the little things in life that make all the difference. A song that must be written about your life. A fictional character that becomes your best friend. A movie that feels just a little too realistic. These are “yet, yet a moment, one dim Ray of Light”(l.1). They are our comfort from the realities of a harsh world. A world that is obsessed with conquering, bloodshed, and superiority. A world, that must “indulge…” in your comforts to feed the “…dread Chaos, and eternal Night!” (ll.2).
Critics: They are everywhere.
Everyone is a critic.
and you can’t hide from them.
A critic’s purpose in the world is nothing, but to bring misery from other’s joy and find the fault in someone’s perfection. Now, they’re not all bad, constructive criticism is great when used to build something up instead of tear it down. Alexander Pope is not talking about constructive criticism in book four of his Dunciad. Dunciad Book Four is very much a response to critics. Not just any critics. The critics who think Pope should do whatever they tell him to…just like a monkey.
From a modern lens, this caricature of Pope is quite literally saying that Pope is nothing but a monkey, like those found in a circus forced to dance for laymen. This caricature holds the belief that Pope is a writer, and thus must write for pure entertainment, rather than providing deeper thinking, or raising political awareness. In other words: #StayInYourLane. However, Pope knows the problem with restricting any kind of art, even worse, controlling it.
So by each Bard an Alderman shall sit,
A heavy Lord shall hang at ev’ry Wit,
And while on Fame’s triumphal Car they ride,
Some Slave of mine be pinion’d to their side.(ll.131-134)
This comes from the perspective of the critic, with the belief that all poets, free-thinkers, actors, etc, should be observed by a ruling lord, or the government. After all, they would still be poets and bards, but this way they would also be politically correct. Who doesn’t want perfectly politically correct songs and literature? No one. Then it wouldn’t relate to the readers. Emotions wouldn’t be evoked. Catharsis is the goal of any art, and Regulation oppresses catharsis.
The best part about all of this is that this book is his response to the critics, showing them the error of their ways by doing the same thing they were criticizing him for. In his very own way, instead of being the dancing monkey, he said #IAMinMyLane.