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Assuming the existence of as Supreme Being and/or Ultimate Reality, these are the only aspects which Pope clearly trips up on in An Essay on Man. Aside from these two conjectures, he offers an excellent description of the state of man's relations to the universe which can find consistency with many of the world's religions and philosophies.

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addressed to the politician and man of letters Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke (1678– 1751). It was intended to form Book I of a comprehensive series of essays, to be called Ethic Epistles, which was also to include Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons on the characters of men and of women and on the use of riches. This plan was never finally settled or put into effect, but the Essay on Man stands as his most ambitious attempt at setting out his philosophical beliefs, or his “general Map of Man.”


- Alexander Pope (From "An Essay on Man")

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man. London: Printed for John and Paul Knapton, 1745. de Beer Eb 1745 P

"An Essay on Man: Epistle 1 by Alexander Pope • 81 Poems by Alexander PopeEdit."An Essay on Man: Epistle 1 by Alexander Pope Classic Famous Poet. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. >.


Epistle I concerns itself with the nature of man and with his place in the universe; Epistle II, with man as an individual; Epistle III, with man in relation to human society, to the political and social hierarchies; and Epistle IV, with man's pursuit of happiness in this world. An Essay on Man was a controversial work in Pope's day, praised by some and criticized by others, primarily because it appeared to contemporary critics that its emphasis, in spite of its themes, was primarily poetic and not, strictly speaking, philosophical in any really coherent sense: , never one to mince words, and possessed, in any case, of views upon the subject which differed materially from those which Pope had set forth, noted dryly (in what is surely one of the most back-handed literary compliments of all time) that "Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised." It is a subtler work, however, than perhaps Johnson realized: G. Wilson Knight has made the perceptive comment that the poem is not a "static scheme" but a "living organism," (like ) and that it must be understood as such. Alexander Pope was born in London to a Roman Catholic family. A childhood sickness left him with stunted height, a curved spine, and ill health for the rest of his life. Pope earned fame and great financial success as a poet, satirist, and translator. He is perhaps best remembered for his mastery of the heroic couplet, as in An Essay on Man and “The Rape of the Lock.”