Samuel Johnson, following in the footsteps of other great English critics, was a great poet. Johnson’s poetry was different from any other writer in the late eighteenth century. He used poetry as a tool for an escape from the reality of life. Johnson would also use poetry as a tool for expression of emotion and praise for accomplishment. When Johnson wrote a poem of praise or to express emotion he would still convey his message beyond reality. He would emphasize an event so immensely that it would seem unrealistic. If being real, or reality, is something sensable, then The Vanity of Human Wishes is the poem in which Johnson best display’s these tools of writing for the purpose of escape. With all of his undertakings, from politics to writing critiques, Johnson used writing poetry as his release from reality and the hardships in his life.
In 1780 Samuel Johnson wrote “A Short Song of Congratulation.” It is a poem of praise to the actions of the nephew of a friend of Johnson. In the poem Johnson depicts the the young man defying the authority of his wealthy family and squandering a substantial inheritance. He is writing about more than the escape of a friend’s nephew, he is writing about his escape from a less than flawless childhood. In the poem Johnson relays to his subject, “If the guardian or the mother / Tell the woes of willful waste, / Scorn their counsel and their pother, / You can hang or drown at last” (25-28). Johnson is using the life and actions of another to relay the struggles he went through as a child to become successful. Johnson’s subject had to separate himself from his prominent family in order to be his own man, or “hang or drown at last,” which symbolizes a freedom to l...
... middle of paper ...
...his friend’s death. It is difficult to follow Johnson’s manipulation of reality, because he does it so many ways. It is easier to understand why he did it. Everyone would love to escape reality sometime, do we have to write? Or can we just read Johnson? Could Johnson read his own work to escape, or did he have to write to leave reality?
Damrosch, David, ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. V. 1C. New York:
Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1999.
Greene, Donald J. Samuel Johnson: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965
Greene, Donald J. Samuel Johnson: Updated Edition. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989
Lustig, Irma S., ed. Boswell: Citizen of the World, Man of Letters. Lexington, Kentucky:
University Press of Kentucky, 1995
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Never before in American history was there a President whose previous work history included cotton picker. That is until Lyndon Baines Johnson was propelled to the highest office in the country because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He worked in the cotton fields as a young boy and such an experience influenced his political agenda when he was elected President. Much has been said about Johnson as a ruthless politician. However, few are aware of his genuine empathy for the poor and elderly.... [tags: Lyndon B. Johnson, United States]
720 words (2.1 pages)
- Samuel Johnson Born on September 18, 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, Samuel Johnson was an English writer who made contributions to literature as a poet, satirist, critic, biographer, and lexicographer. Since Johnson’s parents were bested by financial problems, his childhood was not unrivaled. In spite of Johnson’s misfortune, to prepare “himself for the role as the century’s greatest man of letters,” Samuel Johnson sought education from the books in his father’s shop (Cody 2). Blind in one eye, nearsighted in the other, deaf in one ear, Samuel Johnson contracted scrofula from his wet nurse.... [tags: Dr. Johnson, poet, lexicographer]
1441 words (4.1 pages)
- Samuel Johnson, prominent English author, lived a life which was appears to have been unpretentious on the surface, however his life was filled with numerous complications, extreme suffering and massive psychological troubles. Also, despite all the struggles and suffering in his life, he had a “passionate concern for humanity and even said, ‘I have often thought that there has rarely passed a life of which a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful’” ( Green ). Samuel Johnson was born September 7, 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England in the home above his fifty-two year old father’s struggling bookshop.... [tags: Biography ]
1156 words (3.3 pages)
- Samuel Johnson is revered and considered one of the greatest writers of the eighteenth century. However, when it comes to him as a person many times he is regarded as a being disrespectful, unfair or rude. Yet, there were many instances in his life where he was quite the opposite. However, he was still perceived as being pompous or negatively because he was going against, what was the popular “accepted” culture of the time. There are two situations in particular where he took an unpopular stance on issues, those issues were: women’s rights and slavery.... [tags: English Literature ]
2332 words (6.7 pages)
- « It is truly a miserable thing that we no sooner leave fighting our neighbours, the French, but we must fall to quarrelling among ourselves. » This is how Reverend Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, a key figure of the American Enlightenment, described the rising tension between the American colonists and the British Government in the aftermath of the French and Indian War. A war that paved the way for another war and was at the heart and core of a provocative period during which the Americans endured multiple oppressive methods imposed by Great Britain.... [tags: French and Indian War, American Revolution]
748 words (2.1 pages)
- Samuel Johnson the biographer, essayist, critic, poet, prose writer, parliamentary writer, dramatist and conversationalist, has been an extraordinary lexicographer too. He published his two- volume Dictionary on 15 April 1755, “The Dictionary of the English Language”. This Dictionary has also been at times published as Johnson’s Dictionary. Robert Burchfield the modern lexicographer commented on Johnson’s Dictionary: In the whole tradition of English Language and literature the only dictionary compiled by a writer of the first rank is that of Dr.... [tags: biography, language]
1361 words (3.9 pages)
- Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer, made lasting contributions to English literature. Hewas born September 18, 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England in the family home above his wealthy father‘s bookshop. His mother, Sarah Ford was 40 years old when gave birth to him. There was apprehension he would die in infancy but his strength improved. He was overwhelmed with infirmity during his life. As a child he had scrofula, a disease thought to be cured royalty; a physician suggested he be touched by royalty which he received from Queen Anne in 1712.... [tags: Biography]
936 words (2.7 pages)
- Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer, made lasing contributions to English literature was born September 18, 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England in the family home above his wealthy father‘s bookshop. His mother, Sarah Ford was 40 years old when gave birth to him. There was concern he would die in infancy but his health improved. His was plagued with illness throughout his life. As a child he had scrofula, a disease thought to be cured royalty.... [tags: Biography, Personal Life]
976 words (2.8 pages)
- The Life and Works of Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson, a prominent English writer of the early eighteenth century, brought vivid life to the literary realm of that era. He is known by many to be a writer of great intellect, thought, and positive influence in the writings of literary to follow. Johnson has been hailed as a literary giant in his day, as well as in present times. Samuel Johnson is a great writer because of the critical approval of specific elements, namely satire, the moral romance, and the biography.... [tags: Papers]
754 words (2.2 pages)
- We cannot say that a writer is great just because his writings are great and have stood the test of time. In other words a writer cannot be termed great only because of his antiquity. Dr. Samuel Johnson says in his "Preface to Shakespeare" that a work of literature is great only when it is worth reading. When it lacks excellence, it will be rejected. A work of literature lives only when it has some value. Its value changes from time to time and from age to age. In spite of this changing attitude of the readers towards a literary work, the work must contain some absolute standards if it has to stand the test of time.... [tags: European Literature]
767 words (2.2 pages)