:Analyze two (longer) poems, one of Jonson’s and one of Marvell’s, arguing how they support or undermine the claims of patriarchy, as these are embodied in kingship (James or Charles), and defined in the handout on Jonson’s Explorata: Discoveries and in the Course Summary handout (tba).
Consider that, despite the reign of (notionally) good kings, Jonson’s satires always implicate a disordered society that not only accepts but prefers the theatrical pretenses of vice to virtue, which the speaker as satirist exposes even as he offers a contrasting image of the good, with virtue usually pictured by its good effects, not by its personal appearances (in the case of vice). For appearances in the Jonsonian world are deceiving, depending on whether one views that world from the vantage of vice or virtue (see the handout on Patriarchy and Jonson’s Hermeneutical Code).
In the case of Marvell, consider the catastrophic consequences for the speaker of patriarchy’s overthrow, in the shape of the king’s execution. Keep in mind that in seventeenth-century pastoral (see “To Penshurst” especially and the epigrams to James), it is the good king’s reign that creates and sustains a Golden Age for his subjects, securing the right (gendered) order of things. Without the monarch’s informing presence, the pastoral world to which the speaker incontinently retreats grows strange, as does the speaker himself and the “feminine” objects of his desire. It is no longer a perfect Golden Age that satisfies all human desire, but a Greenworld where there is a serpent in the garden—the intruding world of Time and History (see the handout on A Psycho-history for Marvell).
Both Jonson’s poetic world and Marvell’s are ambiguous, ambivalent in their meaning and value: that is to say, the significance of appearances / imagery can be uncertain, unstable, equivocal, because—as Montaigne would observe—the perceptions of the speaker are bound to be subjective and potentially erroneous. Always keep in mind Jonson’s epigram “To My Muse” (pdf), in which the speaker / Jonson finds himself deceived by vice, in the person of a “worthless lord,” whose appearances of virtue were deceiving, causing the speaker to commit “fierce idolatry” to a false image. As a result, the speaker finds himself representing the fictions of vice in the place of virtue’s truth, with the latter the particular responsibility of the satirist.
DO NOT CONFUSE THE SPEAKER WITH THE POET. Even in Jonson’s case, you must remember that the speaker knows he can misjudge his subject because he operates in a world of conflicting, equivocal appearances. As such, the poet usually ironizes his speaker—the direct consequence of skepticism. The watchwords are: subjectivity / (self-) delusion / denial / deception.
QUOTE from the text, start to finish because figurative logic is linear, with a beginning and an end, just as we do in class. Don’t miss one link, one metaphor, in the poem’s logic.
Focus on the critical passages / lines of verse that support your contentions. Block quotations (single-spaced, indented of five or more lines of verse) provide a crucial context for the poet’s individual image. Then refer back to those lines / passages in your analysis. The text is your evidence that your reading is justified, a valid interpretation. Your job is to make your reader see the poem the way you do, and that means arguing your case by quoting and analyzing the poet’s words.
You should give a full reading of both poems, working through the dramatic (scenario, motive), poetic (formal) and rhetorical (argument) implications of their imagery. FIRST READ ONE POEM, AND THEN THE OTHER. Do not bounce back and forth between them: I would advise starting with Jonson and then moving to Marvell, with your reading of Jonson setting up your reading of Marvell.
Remember that each poem is an argument.. You must work through the imagistic logic of that argument in your reading of both poems. So use the Explication Aids to help describe the quality and effect of individual images. Read each poem aloud to figure out how lines of verse should be inflected and thereby the speaker’s emphases and tone. You needn’t mention metrical or stanzaic form in your reading unless it supports a claim you want to make about the poem’s sense.
The exam should be a MINIMUM of six pages in length. *****If you write fewer than six pages, then you will not have sufficiently demonstrated your thesis, and will not receive a passing grade (no triple spacing unless your software does it between paragraphs—my mama raised no fools).
Your essay should have a thesis paragraph that you compose AFTER you’ve written your argument, when you know what that argument is (having read over your essay to find out). The paragraph will summarize the major points of your argument; and of course follow standard paper format, with proofing. DO NOT HAND IN A PAPER THAT HAS NOT BEEN PROOFREAD: you will irritate your reader, which is neither wise nor politic.
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