Find the Thesis statement

In the comment box, students will paraphrase (in their own words) the main thesis or argument of Hongxi Su’s blog post, linked below.  One or two sentences will suffice–no more.  Students will have about 5 minutes.

To the Dunces, From Pope

“Dropping with Infant’s blood, and Mother’s tears.

O’er ev’ry vein a shudd’ring horror runs;

Eton and Winton shake thro’ all their Sons.

All Flesh is humbled, Westminster’s bold race

Shrink, and confess the Genius of the place:

The pale Boy-Senator yet tingling stands,

And holds his breeches close with both his hands.” (Pope, The Dunciad)

This quote from Pope’s Dunciad is a response to images like the one above; images that are slanderous, cowardly, and vulgar in their angry critiques of the author himself. Pope refers to blood dripping and tears being shed by mothers with horror at the current generation. Those who resort to lies and petty attacks, such as depictions of a satirical author as a lowly rat, with an ass for a master, are of the generation to which Pope is referring. Those who would respond to his honest criticisms with public shaming and bullying instead of taking his words with the respect and value they do those of their ancestors like Shakespeare and Milton are being addressed most plainly with these words. The English, “Westminster’s bold race,” is crumbling. They are becoming those who would shame a man for his religion, as pictured with the rat version of Pope with the papal tiara, and those who tell others to know themselves without acknowledging their own faults. It is Pope’s calling to point out the flaws of his generation, and to respond to their petty attacks on his physical disabilities and intellect with actual critiques of their cowardice and vice. The image above strengthens the understanding of the Dunciad because it gives a clear face to the kinds of things and people Pope is criticizing. He is saying that if they want to fight with him, they shouldn’t be the “pale boy-Senator” who “holds his breeches close with both hands.” Pope is an opponent who does not hide behind pictures and blatant insults like calling his rivals rats or trash. With the Dunciad, he is showing his own strength and intellect in the face of all the rude, privileged, and cowardly Englishmen who dare to challenge him.

-Meredith Leonardo

The Hidden Truth


By: Carmen Ibarra

“There march’d the bard and blockhead, side by side,
Who rhym’d for hire, and patroniz’d for pride.
Narcissus, 39  prais’d with all a Parson’s pow’r,
Look’d a white lilly sunk beneath a show’r.
There mov’d Montalto 40  with superior air; [105]
His stretch’d-out arm display’d a Volume fair;
Courtiers and Patriots in two ranks divide,
Thro’ both he pass’d, and bow’d from side to side:
But as in graceful act, with awful eye
Compos’d he stood, bold Benson thrust him by: [110]
On two unequal crutches propt he came,
Milton’s on this, on that one Johnston’s name.
The decent Knight retir’d with sober rage,
“What! no respect, he cry’d, for Shakespear’s page?”
But (happy for him as the times went then) [115]
Appear’d Apollo’s May’r and Aldermen,
On whom three hundred gold-capt youths 41  await,
To lug the pond’rous volume off in state.”

As I was reading this excerpt of the poem the image above instantly came to mind. The fact that the pope is a rat and the prime minister to his side is a donkey does allude signs of dis. The fact that it shows “the holiness” as a rat leaning against those books and the donkey with a letter on his ear shows the negativity within the picture. Not only that but this entire excerpt of the poem has lots of negative connotations to it. Such as, using the words: blockhead, narcissus, divide, awful eye, pride, and much more just shows the negativity that was meant to  be spoken of “the holiness” and his “prime minister.” I also notice the pen in the hands of the rat. When I see that I think of the lines

“The decent Knight retir’d with sober rage,
“What! no respect, he cry’d, for Shakespear’s page?”
But (happy for him as the times went then) [115]”

Which lead me to think “the holiness” is a fraud, because I do remember reading in lecture #5 that during the time of Pope’s poetry there had been a lot of plagiarizer and that was before the time of copy-write. Which also leads me to assume there were conflicts between the two.

Pope the Poet

This satirical print against Pope displays the backlash and hatred Pope received after publishing The Dunciad (1729). The image is a highly creative, but also disturbing reflection of what happens when one speaks against and parodies common rule/ popular following. In this image, Pope is depicted as a rat-like mutation hunched over as a result of the production variorumof his literature. While this image might be seen as cruel, I feel as though in a distinct way, Pope would have appreciated the creativity and extent to which this piece of literature (the image) was made.

In The Dunciad, Pope created a work which mocks the writers, critics, and readers whom he felt were simply dull, tasteless, irrelevant and corrupt. The goal of his piece was to shine light on the need for more powerful, meaningful literature. The poem is a shot at all those whom contribute to the production and release of such type of literature, forcing them to realize how ridiculousness their work truly is.

In The Dunciad, Pope writes:

“Whate’er the talents, or howe’er design’d,
We hang one jingling padlock on the mind:
A Poet the first day, he dips his quill;
And what the last? a very Poet still.
Pity! the charm works only in our wall, [165]”

Here Pope makes bold assertion that no matter what the talents of a person are, they will always be a poet and that in and of itself is of extreme importance. Therefore no words against him shall prosper but only be reflected under light at the end of the day.


-Angelica Costilla-Mancha

Isn’t It IRONIC ? Don’t you think?—–

I may be critical but not as critical as pope Alexander. He constantly made a public critique against those that he believed to be wrong doers. He didn’t care if you were well know or a common person, he publicized everything verbally. This photo is a depiction of the consequences Alexander faced after publishing his epic poem. Alexander takes on the reference as a “hyper-critic and commentator”. He is the rat that stands on a pedestal that leans on a stack of his works. This is interesting to me because as a slang term ‘rat’ is used to describe a snitch or a person that gossips. Being that Alexandar is ruthless when it comes to criticism this is an interesting way to depict the pope. The pope is drawn to be a low class rat on a pedestal,  how ironic. In the poem the brainless are seen to be the people of high intelligence. There is a mule peeking around the corner with a letter hanging out of his ear but I think it is the artist poking fun at society. We are all dumbfounded at times but that does not mean we are not capable to obtain great knowledge.

‘Not those alone who passive own her laws, [85]

But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause.

Whate’er of dunce in College or in Town

Sneers at another, in toupee or gown;

Whate’er of mungril no one class admits,

A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits’

Commentary can be brutal and when it is a critique by the pope it can be taken whole heartedly.

Most politicians did not appreciate theses criticisms but that does not mean there was not any truth to them.

BY: Maricruz Solano

Of the three images published by the “bullies” of Alexander pope, this final image is perhaps the subtlest in its criticism. It portrays one of the Grub Street writers – the “low-end” writing order that Tories Pope and Swift were members of – in a “stereotype” Grub street writing environment; chaotic, with the presence of harlots – or of similarly disreputable women – with the discarding of honor and virtue as represented by the sword forgotten on the ground, and with the distraction – and ultimate hack-quality production – of the Grub street writer himself. Although there is no explicit mention of the Grub Street writes in the fourth book of the Dunciad – our prescribed reading for this question – it must be made clear for the sake of context that, despite being a Grub Street writer himself, Pope himself satirizes Grub Street. That fact alone provides a new angle on the Dunciad and the motivations of Pope: he sought to satirize his contemporary English society – but he was also able to recognize his, and his works’, roles in society.

            Based off my interpretation that the woman on the far left in this image is a harlot, I believe that Pope’s invocation of the “harlot” figure in his Fourth Book of the Dunciad was intentional. In the fourth book of The Dunciad, Pope opens with a vivid stanza – a metaphoric reflection on Pope’s cynical view on English society – portraying the gagging and binding of Logic and the stripping of “fair rhetoric.” I believe that this is a jab at either the Grub Street writes or what the Grub Street writers represented to the “elites” of English society: the degradation of their valiant and proper language. Much like Swift attacks the elitism behind “proper” English through the horse-people’s ridiculous dialect, Pope not only acknowledges his order’s impropriety – he also turns it into a double-entendre assault against the originators of the highly elitist “degraded English” perspective on Grub Street. He does this by invoking the harlot figure as a savior:

When, lo! a harlot form soft sliding by,

With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye:

Foreign her air, her robe’s discordant pride

In patchwork fluttering, and her head aside:

The harlot enters the chaos that is this perceived denigration of the English language. Her voice is “small” to symbolize that she does not conform to the boisterous righteousness of proper English, her robes are “foreign “and “patchwork” to pronounce her position as a commoner, and her occupation as a harlot is degraded enough.

It is curious, then, that Swift seems to have “stolen” this savior harlot from his critics. Note that the harlot in the above image is holding a scripture of her own. I believe that, from the perspective of Pope’s critics, this was meant to represent that Grub Street was so disgusting that even harlots could write there. Pope “steals” this idea by portraying the “soft” and “foreign” harlot as being the only figure capable of halting the chaos and calling out the agents behind them;

She tripped and laughed, too pretty much to stand;

Cast on the prostrate Nine a scornful look,

Then thus in quaint recitative spoke

The “Nine” referred to above were the “Logic” and “Rhetoric” and other such capitalized concepts mentioned by Swift; highly powerful concepts, with a lot of order and pre-established rules surrounding them – and yet Swift seems to almost agree with his critics that not only do base commoners have voices such as the harlot in the critics image and the harlot in Swift’s poem – he takes it a step further by suggesting that voice is the only voice able to actually silence the rabid and needless chaos that surrounds the elitist exaltation of the English language.

“Don’t Make An Ass of Yourself” -One of Pope’s Haters Probably


“Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in Chains,
And Wit dreads Exile, Penalties and Pains.
There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound,
There, stript, fair Rhet’ric languish’d on the ground.”

Alexander Pope wrote satirical pieces on the Enlightenment and some of its key figures because this was a period in which people disguised their hatred and dislike of other religions, peoples, and practices as science and logic. Being able to see that and criticize that hypocrisy made Pope the perfect target for images like the one above.

Especially when Pope writes pieces like the one quoted above that paint an image of the Enlightenment as some sort of wild animal that has been chained up and held prisoner. If logic isn’t something positive and instead is “rebellious” then the Enlightenment is not actually about growth and a new line of thinking but instead just a facsimile for bigotry and similar sentiments. Science is also not about progress as it “groans in chains” because just like logic it is something that needs to be kept bound. It implies that if it wasn’t something would be horribly wrong. So the Enlightenment and its ideas frauds.

The sentiment that not everything is what it seems and that some things are in fact fraudulent seems to be echoed in the image above meant to mock Pope. The image makes it clear that what Pope writes and believes in is a mockery of something real and legitimate because his very works are being held by the donkey. As if to say “what you have to say Alexander Pope is that you’re an ass” and this makes him the fraud that he has accused others of being and in doing so not only damages his credibility as a critic but also as a person because he’s been made a subject for endless ridicule.

By Diana Lara


HELLO! You’re not perfect either!

After going over Alexander Pope’s “The Dunciad” and lecture notes I believe that the most appropriate image to use would be image #2. This image was used to academically ridicule Pope and satirize his work to the fullest, in this image Pope is shown as a small hunched monkey, and the satirist refers to Pope as “A P E”. Out of the three images I felt like this one had the darkest satire because the fact that the monkey was hunched illuminates Pope’s own illness of Tuberculosis. I feel like the artist used satire in describing Pope as a monkey for two reasons because 1) that would take from Pope’s credibility but also 2) he is using Pope’s illness and ailment against him. In “the Dunciad”, Pope does criticize other authors so I feel like the satire in the image is used to say, “HELLO! You’re not perfect either!” It is evident that Pope isn’t perfect and the artist may have took it too far bringing up his illness but I think another thing worth noting is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church was mentioned. Pope was known as a follower of the Catholic Church, but even then he was treated sort of as a second class citizen and evidently not respected. I feel like the image illuminates Book 4 because it fires back at Pope’s judgements and seemingly encourages him to humble himself.

I interpreted footnote 2 as satire because Pope is calling out those who “see things that don’t exist” I feel like here is an example of him undermining or even criticizing someone else. In image #2 I interpret the image of being an attack, but an appropriate one focused on literary battle. Pope went on a back and fourth battle and indeed shots were fired. Pope seemed very egotistical and this image definitely was used to shut it down!

Bullies: The reflection of society?

Although the poem itself was awfully difficult to read, I would say that image #2 does its best to represent what Pope was conveying in his poem. As we read through the notes and his biography we learned that Pope was definitely not “fitting” in society (whether it was his physical aspect or his way of writing.

Pope said in his poem:

“Beneath her foot-stool, Science 10  groans in Chains,
And Wit dreads Exile, Penalties and Pains.
There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound,
There, stript, fair Rhet’ric languish’d on the ground;
His blunted Arms by Sophistry 11  are born, [25]
And shameless Billingsgate 12  her Robes adorn.
Morality, by her false Guardians drawn,
Chicane in Furs, and Casuistry in Lawn, 13 
Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,
And dies, when Dulness gives her Page the word. 14  [30]”

This is well connected to the picture because as people were making fun or attacking him through these images, he was getting back at them by criticizing the society they are coming from. This is being understood when he saids “Beneath her foot-stool, Science 10  groans in Chains,And Wit dreads Exile, Penalties and Pains. There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound” he is throwing some type of shade were even though one is surrounded by all these logical ideologies, one decides to harass someone because of their “defects”. In a sense I get a “looking glass” perspective (Apess) in Pope’s writing as he tries to tell his bullies that before coming up with these images and degrading him not because of his constructive criticism, but towards his physical appearance they should reflect and re-analyze themselves.

Questionable Criticism

Alexander Pope was definitely an interesting character. Thus, I decided to go with Image 1, which is a reflection of the treatment Pope dealt with.  The printed image maliciously depicts Popes physical disability as well as his standing as a civilian. I believe the image was primarily made to discredit Pope’s satire about the institutions rising dullness. Pope was not so subtlety calling out the suppression of the arts, education and the sciences to dullness, and doing so insultingly. At the very end of the poem Pope wrote

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;

Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored;

Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;

And universal darkness buries all. (The Dunciad)

Once England has been handed over to Dulness, everything lost sense, and the people of the land grew tired, physically. Without stimulation of the arts and different schools of education, the masses have nothing to keep them alert. Pope was certainly extreme in depicting this, but in precarious times, extreme actions are sometimes the wake-up call the people need. The image “The Poetical Tom-Titt perch’d upon the Mount of Love, Being the Representation of a Merry Description in Mr. Cibber’s Letter to Mr. Pope”, was only made to distract the population from the truth of Pope’s satire. The image shows Cibber saving Pope from what is said to be a prostitute, the door is flung open demonstrating the “real” Pope. Pope himself is shown as a very small man clinging to the body of a half nude woman, with a rather small head. This suggests that he was clinging onto a half-truth, the size of the woman’s head could be a statement about the legitimacy of Pope’s argument.

The image began printing the same year the fourth book of The Dunciad was published. While this could have been true, I believe that it was just a mean picture meant to discourage the population from believing Pope, and Pope from continuing his writing. The topic and nature of his words really lit a fire beneath people and the response was a satirical image. So, while images like these are important to contextualize work, one should really take them with a grain of salt. Always learn more about why an image depicts what it does, and the message that it is sending out, because this image was just a direct response of Pope’s satirical work.

– Sabrina Vazquez