17th-18th Century British Literature Discussion Question: Critical Review

The Use of English Language in the 17th and 18th Centuries

The authors from the two centuries use the English language in very different ways. One is initially plain and clear, whereas the other is convoluted, challenging to follow and understand, and replete with metaphors. The essays by John Lock and John Dryden from the 17th century fall into the latter group; they are metaphor-heavy, challenging to read, understand, and navigate. For instance, John Locke's essay is written in a difficult-to-read form of the ancient English language that includes words like "thine," "thy," and "thou hast," among others. The use of this language makes it hard for the reader to comprehend the paragraph word by word (Locke 1). To understand what Locke is saying, the reader has to content with partial understanding of full sentences and paragraphs. For example, in The Epistle to the Reader by John Locke, one only partially understand the first paragraph and this makes is difficult for the audience to follow through the arguments if one cannot even understand the introduction.

Simplicity of the English Language in the 18th Century

Contrastingly, the 18th century use of the English language is simple and straightforward as exemplified by Addison. Due to the use of simple language, the reader is able to grasp the intentions of the author as well as the subject matter right from the beginning. For instance in The Spectator by Addison, the author starts off with a brief salutation and appreciation of the readers in his city. Then he goes on to outline his goal (Addison 1). In the essay, Addison outlines right from the first paragraph that he intends to demystify philosophy by bringing it out of the elaborate and scholarly debates to common meeting places and discussions such as coffee houses and assemblies. In the end, the reader, the reader can follow word for word the meaning and intentions of the author.

Heavy Use of Metaphors in the 17th Century Prose

Secondly, there is heavy use of metaphors in the 17th century prose than in the 18th century one. The heavy use of metaphor by both Locke and Dryden means that much of the message and understanding of the essays is done through imagery. In fact, to some extent, due to the use of the complex language, the reader only understands the message purely through imagery. For example, Dryden in particular is attracted to use of poems in his address to Charles (Dryden 2). He does not address his audience directly through his words but prefers to use poems that are laden with metaphors, symbols and imageries.

Effectiveness and Ineffectiveness of Metaphoric Communication

This form of communication is both effective and ineffective. The use of images and metaphors ensures that the reader is left with a lasting impression about the subject matter long. However, on the other hand, it acts as a distraction because it consumes the audience and takes them into a journey and they cannot keep up with the author's address. Contrastingly, Addison uses few metaphors and imagery to communicate. As a result, it is possible for the audience to walk alongside the narrator in his essays because they are not consumed in imageries and metaphors to distract them. For example, when Addison "but there are none to whom this paper will be more useful than the female world." Immediately, the reader knows that Addison is turning his focus to the importance of his speech to the women.

Works Cited

Addison. "The Spectator." (1711): 1. Print.

Dryden, John. "Of Dramatic Poesy, An Essay." An English Garner: Critical Essays & Literary Fragments (1668): 1-79. Print.

Locke, John. "The Epistle to the Reader." An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (n.d.): 1-6. Print.

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