The classical and the grotesque in the work of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift
This thesis takes Mikhail Bakhtin's definitions of the classical and the grotesque, uses various other theorists to problematise and extend these concepts through an engagement with gender categories, and applies them to the work of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. Although the first part deals with the 'theory' of the classical and the grotesque, the following sections on Pope and Swift seek to recognise the historical specificity and complexity of these modes as they intersect with the cultural, material, and psychological circumstances of the writer. The methodology is not solely biographical', 'political', 'cultural', 'feminist' or 'textual', but combines those approaches most relevant to the particular text in question, sometimes engaging more directly with the political environment, for example, at other times placing greater stress on mythological and generic allusions. The thesis shows that the classical and the grotesque emerge from a long social and literary tradition, yet the ways in which they manifest themselves in the time of Pope and Swift are very specific and constructed at least partially in response to contemporary cultural contexts such as the publishing trade, the present monarchy, the situation of Ireland and so on. Extending the work of Susan Gubar, particular attention is paid to the figure of the female grotesque, a common and yet varied image that is made to stand for a variety of cultural and moral ills in the writing of Pope and Swift. In contrast the figure of the 'classical' woman or 'softer man' is found to be symbolic of order as the unruly 'natural' substance of woman is transformed into masculine 'Culture' through social and textual containment. Classical and grotesque constructions of the masculine are also examined, especially in relation to the author's perceptions of his own masculinity. The thesis concludes with a brief analysis of the classical masculine friendship between Pope and Swift.