Comparison of Pope and Swift
Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift in their respective poems, The Rape of the Lock and The Progress of Beauty, offer opposite representations of the nature and function of cosmetics in eighteenth century society. In The Rape of the Lock, Pope gives a positive representation of cosmetic's nature and function in eighteenth century society. On the other hand, Swift's representation takes a very negative tone. Both poets clearly appreciate and admire the natural beauty of a woman and their opposite opinions and therefore representation of the nature and function of cosmetics, springs from this admiration. Pope, whilst slightly ridiculing cosmetics through his use of satire, represents cosmetics in a positive light through portraying it as
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In The Progress of Beauty he displays a tone of viciousness towards cosmetics. In continuing with his negative representation of the nature and function of cosmetics in eighteenth century society, Swift through his poem, viciously attacks the use of cosmetics. Cosmetics are described by Pope like paint, their function to cover and their nature eventually to destroy. Pope writes that "The paint by perspiration cracks, And falls in rivulets of sweat, On either side you see the tracks, While at her chin the confluents met." (Line 37-40) Swift is clearly against the use of cosmetics in eighteenth century society and he shows this quite openly through The Progress of Beauty. He does not shy away from speaking harshly about women who use cosmetics, shown when he describes Celia as having "Cracked lips, foul teeth, and gummy eyes." (Line 15) His tone is constantly one of viciousness. At some points he eases up a bit in his vicious tone, but mostly his tone becomes one of sarcasm. "Thus, after four important hours Celia's the wonder of her sex". This sarcastic line ridicules the amount of time women spend only to destroy themselves. Swift's tone throughout the poem, whether sarcastic or vicious serves to further support his representation of the nature and function of cosmetics in eighteenth century society as being negative and destructive.
In The Rape of the Lock, Pope never represents cosmetics as having a negative