The vanity of human wishes analysis. Vanity Of Human Wishes The 2022-10-19
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The Vanity of Human Wishes, written by 18th-century English poet and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, is a satirical poem that highlights the futility of human desire and the fleeting nature of success. Through the use of irony and humor, Johnson points out the ridiculousness of our endless pursuit of wealth, power, and fame, and the ultimate emptiness that these pursuits often bring.
The poem begins by stating that "the man of real happiness" is one who is content with what he has, rather than constantly striving for more. This is a direct rebuke of the societal values of the time, which placed a high value on material wealth and social status. Johnson argues that the pursuit of these things is ultimately futile, as they can never truly bring lasting happiness or fulfillment.
Johnson also points out the irony of how much time and energy we spend on these pursuits, while ignoring the things that truly matter in life. He writes that "The boy, who plows in hope, at fifty quits / To finish as a fool what he begun as a sage." This suggests that even those who work hard and strive for success may ultimately end up regretting their choices, as they have sacrificed the things that truly matter for the sake of fleeting success.
Throughout the poem, Johnson uses a variety of literary devices to drive home his point. One such device is personification, as he speaks of "Time" and "Fate" as if they are living beings, controlling and manipulating the lives of humans. This serves to emphasize the idea that we are not in control of our own destinies, and that our pursuit of material wealth and status is ultimately futile.
The Vanity of Human Wishes is a thought-provoking and deeply cynical work that challenges readers to consider the true value of their desires and goals. It serves as a reminder that the things that truly matter in life – love, friendship, and personal fulfillment – are often overlooked in our pursuit of fleeting success and material wealth. In this way, Johnson's poem encourages us to reassess our priorities and find happiness in the things that truly matter.
The Vanity of Human Wishes Study Guide
The speaker contends in Stanza 3 that it is safer to be a "vassal"—a lowly person—or "hind"—a peasant—who enjoys more safety than an aristocratic ruler because kings have bloody fights over power. In Stanzas 18—19 the speaker asks the reader to imagine someone whose virtuous prime leaves them enviably well in old age. His arrogance got the best of him and his actions. The second stanza moves on from discussing how our wishes and emotions lead us astray and now presents the corruption that money or greed has upon humanity. The beauties that surround us in nature are no longer pleasing. .
His section on the perils of beauty is significantly longer, and dwells on the failings of handsome men and beautiful women alike. These personifications serve multiple purposes. The poem also utilizes personification throughout, with virtuous traits such as Reason, Beauty, Prudence, and Honor presented as actors. The characters he paints are heroic, sympathetic though fatally flawed. For Juvenal, a stoic resignation and endurance are the best one can achieve. Stanzas 21—22 In Stanza 21 mothers pray for beauty for their children, but beauty is dangerous. He also states that one should look to the example of great men to learn how to lead a virtuous life.
At the end of the tenth line, we find our first full stop — phew! He is of the opinion that wealth comes and peace goes. He advises the student to "pause a while from learning, to be wise," and to look at the world around him. When emotion takes over, reason buggers off. Also described with details regarding their harsh ends are Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, treasurer for Queen Anne, later impeached and sent to the Tower by the Whigs; Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford, once a favorite of Charles I but later impeached and executed; and Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, once in favor with Charles II, eventually exiled to Europe. Roman and Christian Moralities From its title onward, "The Vanity of Human Wishes" is an acknowledged imitation of Juvenal's 10th satire, and its form and arguments follow Juvenal through wealth, power, learning, military glory, and old age.
The poem recognizes that the things of this world pass away and laments the mutability of existence. Henry Thrale, Johnson burst into tears. The poem also cites numerous ministers to English kings as corrupt, foolish, and ambitious, but makes no argument about any English royal figures. Through the favor of the king he was recommended to become Archbishop of Canterbury and exercised extensive control over the English government. Relative to Juvenal, he adopts a position toward the subjects of his poem that rings more of sympathy and charitable patience. Celebrated satirist Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels, suffered a stroke in the last years of his life that left him unable to speak coherently or care for himself.
His strongest criticism is for cowardice, hypocrisy, stupidity, and promiscuity. The dense web of allusions to both classical and contemporary figures stands out as the most notable feature of the poem. To convince his viewpoint, the speaker brings many instances. Juvenal, a stoic, advises that people pray for a sound mind, personal strength, bravery, and endurance and says the best prayer can be granted by the poem's reader to themselves. Whereas the original, for example, mocks the old man with his dripping nose and toothless gums, the one-eyed Hannibal riding his last surviving elephant, Johnson pities his subjects.
Analysis Form, Meter, and Poetic Devices "The Vanity of Human Wishes" is composed in a common form for satire, heroic couplets, or pairs of lines that end in iambic pentameter. The wealthier a man is, the more danger he faces. He did not get any followers nor did he get any warmth and affection from people. However, his delusions are cut short by defeat in battle with the Greeks, who treat the sea with more respect. He also uses the personal pronoun we at several points to be part of his audience and make clear he includes himself in the group that may suffer from faulty perceptions. He also alludes to English philosopher and scientist Roger Bacon c. Johnson references Catherine Sedley, mistress of James II, when he writes that "Sedley cursed the form that pleased a king.
A scholar may find that when political fortunes change, "fatal learning leads him to the block. A long life often brings poor health at the end. The tacit inclusion of an audience in the body of the poem reinforces its instructive nature. The phrase suggests that the hireling is willing to do anything for money and is not concerned with the consequences of their actions. He labels it "Wide-wasting pest! It is because of gold, criminals record increases. The speaker recounts how, as a result, his army endures famine and the Russian winter before losing decisively at Poltava—rendered here as Pultowa—in 1709.
The Vanity of Human Wishes by Samuel Johnson: Summary and Analysis
Johnson had much of the antique Roman in him, but he was also devoutly Christian. He also notes contemporary figures John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, and the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift. However, greed remains where health does not, and the elderly person often worries about their debts or jealously guards their fortune. Anti-thesis can be found in his lineation, light and darkness, shows and hides, pleasure and pain, are some of the structural anti thesis in the poem in order to give striking conclusions. This pair of polar opposites can be linked directly to the idea of human wishes. Charles VII attempts to invade the queen's defenseless territories, but she sends out a call that, combined with the promise of plunder, draws the world to her aid.
A suppliant can be understood to be a beggar and thus within the line we see the gambler find destruction in his abandonment of reason and then once again relying on the hope of charity rather than using reason to restore his fortunes. Democritus Though the works of Democritus are known only through secondhand sources, the narrator insists the philosopher was known for his mirth and that he lived in a time before wealth or inequality. The poem points out how sudden his rise to power was and how equally sudden his fall. The speaker need not recount the manner or cause of the first Duke of Buckingham George Villiers's assassination, for example, or the full extent of Alexander the Great's conquests. But, vary with the theme when Johnson put focus on Christianity as the only way to get happiness. He comes to terms with himself and decides to do what Teiresias tells him to do which is free Antigone and give Polyneices are proper burial.