A Man's Nightmare

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Jonathan Swift’s poem, “A Lady’s Dressing Room,” represents a man’s love for a woman as the author, Strephon, and audience explore the happenings inside a woman’s bedroom. Like many other men, Strephon is an obsessed lover whose vision of women is distorted by eighteenth century radical ideals of love and beauty. While the poem is a satire, Swift tries to establish that love is blind and presents that love is only based on beauty of women. By introducing an idealistic lover into a realistic environment, he examines the disturbing end results as Celia falls from her godlike state. As she is humanized, Swift successfully demolishes the ridiculous fantasies of love and beauty, and men are also able to see more clearly behind the clothing and make-up. In “A Lady’s Dressing Room,” Swift exposes the contradiction between idealized love created by eighteenth century society and reality, as he forces Strephon see past Celia’s façade by investigating Celia’s dressing room and discovering traumatizing facts as well as disillusioning him with the help of Swift’s vivid description.

Swift represents love as impractical and unnatural in his satire in order to mock eighteenth century society because of their obsession with love and beauty. Initially, Swift begins by referring to Celia as a “goddess from her chamber…” (ln 1) in order to mock the glorification women tend to receive from men. Also, Celia spends “five hours…in dressing” (ln 2-3). He attacks and ridicules the idealizations of love and beauty because women were seen as gorgeous goddesses and their beaus idolize them to no end. Women also spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to make themselves beautiful and well dressed, but they actually spend little time trying to conceal t...

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..., Swift only attempts to demolish the romantic ideals of women and beauty produced from the eighteenth century society. He wants to reveal the reality that mankind is imperfect and love only blinds these blemishes. And, the only way to illustrate reality to the public is to reduce women to most simple yet repulsive bodily functions that equalize both men and women. As society places more prominence on idealized love, Swift criticizes these false idealizations and exposes the truth to the public through his poetic satire. According to Swift, eighteenth century love is more of an infatuation with women and beauty as both tend to obsess over first impressions of appearances. As proved by Strephon invading Celia’s room, Jonathan Swift only further emphasizes that love is not solely based upon physical appearances because even looks, most especially, can be deceiving.
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