doomed to founder.’ (p.182) Nokes advances another unsettling uncertaintyabout Swift when he quotes Swift’s letter to Pope concerning the death of Gay:‘I endeavor to comfort myself upon the loss of friends as I do upon the lossof money, by turning to my account-book, and seeing whether I haveenough left for my support.’(Quoted in Nokes, 181)We find that Swift’s approach to his satirical objects and to his own grief areidentical. His satiric wit is revealed to be an inseparable aspect of himself, ‘aninstinctive psychological defense.’ (Nokes, 181) The consideration that Swift’ssatire might in large part be an extension of his own psychology could greatlycolour one’s reading of
. Gulliver’s apparent fixation withexcreta could be perceived, as it often was at the time, as less of a satiric tooland more a sign of a depraved mind. Regardless of this example, it is clear thatour perception of the writer can greatly affect a reading of satire.It is a subject for debate whether or not satire has any inherent pleasure.Samuel Johnson said of satirists: ‘They shew the age involved in darkness, andshade the picture with sullen emulation.’check ‘lives of poets’ red star pg14inbookletThis statement alone should be enough to confirm that satire is notan instrument of enjoyment.
The Beggar’s Opera
weretwo of the most commercially successful pieces of satirical writing in theeighteenth-century, but they were also popular for reasons unconnected to their satirical elements.
The Beggar’s Opera
is a particularly good subject for examining the influence its satire had on the affection it earned. Undeniably,many of its pleasures lay elsewhere. Accounts of its opening night are ‘probablymore anecdotal than historical’ (Roberts, xvii), but it was received by a rapturouspublic. The actress playing Polly, the central female character, becameNAMEInthe third act, she says, ‘there is nothing so charming as music. I’m fond of it todistraction.’ (III.xii.8-9) She might have been speaking for the public.
contained 69 short airs based on popular English ballads whichwere already well-known and popular at the time. It was also funny and well