Analysis of Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism

In his Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope states that, “True ease in writing comes from art, not chance / As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.” Not only do I agree with Pope’s statement, but I extend his idea to say that my writing is a dance. My writing is the dance of the pen and the paper. It is the crowd of strangers brought together by a common dance, or the lone man dancing naked in front of a bathroom mirror. Each may be graceful and elegant, but each may also strike with crassness and discomfort. Each can enlighten. Each can outrage.

When I sit down to write, I may doodle in the margin for a while. I examine the topic and get in an appropriate frame of mind. Both of these steps occur when I go to a club. I have to get in the mood to dance, and to write. As I dig further into my mind, searching for ideas, I begin to let loose, just as I do on the dance floor after a few songs. I stop thinking about the correctness and grammar of my writing and begin to let my hand write my ideas as soon as they come to mind. I don’t examine an idea as it comes to mind, I simply write how I feel. This parallels the way my dancing becomes a natural movement. In both writing and dancing, I start out constrained and move into a relaxed flow.

Dancing and writing both lead to a discovery of new abilities. When I am engaged in either activity, I manifest uncanny skills that even I was unaware of. This elevated consciousness is my greatest strength as a writer. I have the ability to put my ideas down on paper in a captivating manner. This parallels a choreographer’s challenge. She must have able dancers to perform her design, or it will never be fully realized. I am also fluent with both my sentence structure and the work as a whole. A dancer must be able to execute each move with grace, and the entire production must flow from prelude to curtain call.

My most prevalent weakness is my tendency to write only what I want. This assignment has been a huge challenge because I write what I feel. It is hard for me to stay within the guidelines of many assignments. I also need to work on my editing process. I have never been a great speller, and when there are no dictionaries or spell checks, I find myself in trouble.

Why must we write? The answer is the same as it would be if the question were posed: Why do we dance? The answer is expression and communication. While dancing, our bodies are inebriated with passion, expressing both our views of how dance should look and our physical ability to achieve that ideal. When we write, we are giving the world a look at the way we view it. We express ourselves through writing. We give our interpretation of the how and why of our reality. The only limit to expressing this view is the skills to relay the message. Writing is essential for the continued existence of man, and the birth of new ideas.

The other necessity that writing appeases is a need for communication. Writing allows ideas to pass through the barrier of time. It allows minds of past and present to collaborate with each other. Writing gives us everything from history to philosophy. After all, we would not know Socrates if it were not for Plato.

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18 June 2014. Author: Criticism