Essay on Second Earl Of Rochester

This essay has a total of 2563 words and 15 pages.

Second Earl Of Rochester


The satirists shared a talent for making other individuals feel uncomfortable,
particularly by making them aware of their own moral inadequacies. They used irony,
derision, and wit to attack human vice or folly. One method the satirist utilized to catch
their readers' attention, while also making them feel uncomfortable, was to describe those
things that were deemed inappropriate to discuss openly in society. The classical example
of a topic that was discussed behind closed doors, yet the satirist used freely, was sex.
Mention of such things as sex can always bring a giggle, excite feelings of hidden
passion, or make one's cheeks rosy from embarrassment. John Wilmot, Second Earl of
Rochester, and Jonathan Swift, were two satirist that were noted for using perverse
language and graphic depictions to elicit desired emotions from their readers and to wage
their attacks on human folly.


To understand Rochester's use of sex in his work, one must understand his distaste for
reason. This can be seen in his poem, A Satyr Against Mankind, when he comments:


"Women and Men of wit, are dang'rous tools, and ever fatal to admiring fools." Rochester
viewed reason as a vice rather than an admirable trait in man. When man followed a course
of action that was advised by reason he turned into a coward who often betrayed his
ideals, his family, and his friends.


Rochester believed that to enjoy true happiness one must follow a course dictated by
passion. Unlike reason, the passions do not betray one's senses and ideals. According to
Rochester, the passions define who an individual is because the passions encompass one's
emotions and desires. Reason cannot fully comprehend such a thing.


Rochester highlights this belief in his poem's with tales of lust and sexual innuendoes.
He uses perverse language and topics not only to mock those that believe reason is the
human faculty that can bring about self-satisfaction, but also to describe to his readers
that sensual pleasure is the highest pleasure because sensual pleasure is derived from
passion, not reason.


Rochester's poems rarely discuss love in the traditional sense; rather, he discusses it in
a bodily context. Naturally, this would bring about the ire in any moralist. His poems
make reference to ancient figures that draw on images of mass orgies and debauchery. He
often uses language that elicits images of human genitalia. In his works, he even
discusses how an individual's sexual drive cannot be satisfied or how an individual cannot
perform sexually.


In Rochester's Upon His Drinking a Bowl, Rochester joins the aspect of alcohol with that of sex:

Cupid, and Bacchus, my Saints are,

May drink, and Love, still reign,

With Wine, I wash away my cares,

And then to Cunt again.



This attitude of sex and drunkenness is often associated with the ancient Greeks and
Romans, who Rochester makes reference to through Cupid and Bacchus. The wine serves as a
tool to rid oneself of their grasp on reason. It often drives away the feeling of anxiety
that often exist between a man and women during times of intimacy. It allows one to
satisfy their bodily pleasure.


The graphic word "Cunt" not only serves as a symbol of sex and the female genitalia but is
also used to bring about the disgust of any moralist or any rational individual. A
reasonable man would like to think that men do not view sex and women in such a derogatory
manner. According to Rochester, this is not so. Men are crude creatures that do think of
sex and women in such a manner.


Rochester's The Imperfect Enjoyment is an amusing tale of man's greatest fear - premature ejaculation:

Smiling, she chides in a kind murm'ring Noise,

And from her Body wipes the clammy joys;

When a Thousand Kisses, wander'ring o're

My panting Bosome, - is there then no more?…



Apply'd to my dead Cinder, warms no more,

Than Fire to Ashes, cou'd past Flames restore.

Trembling, confus'd, despairing, limber, dry,

A wishing, weak, unmoving lump



The man is this poem is so excited by the exotic allure of his female companion that he
climaxes before the sexual moment ever begins. He then gets frustrated that he can not get
a repeated erection that instantaneous moment. This poem amuses most readers because most
men and women understand the man and most likely the woman's frustration.


This poem also serves to symbolize the power of imagination and passion. Imagination and
passion can carry a person to the point of sensual ecstasy and agony. It can also serve to
destroy a man's pride. A reasonable man would like to think he could suppress his exotic
thoughts so that he can perform well sexually. This is not so. Man is not a reasonable
creature; he is a passionate one.


Rochester's Signior Dildo tells the tale of a woman who plays on the foolishness of her
male admirers for the simple use of their bodies:


Our dainty fine Dutchesse's have got a Trick

To Doat on a Fool, for the Sake of his Prick…



The use of the word Dildo in the title is clever and appropriate because a dildo is a
simulation of the male penis that women use for masturbation. The woman in this poem is
using the male simply for his penis. Rochester also uses other words in this poem that
conjure up images of the male penis such as: prick, thumb, carrot, and candle. This poem
also draws on the imperfections of women. Women cannot self-subsist. They need the aid of
men to satisfy their sensual pleasures. Like men, they do not proceed with sexual
intercourse out of respect and an adoring love for their partner. They proceed with sexual
intercourse because their partner can satisfy them sensually.


Rochester has an almost Hobbesian view towards human nature. He believes that men are
naturally selfish and governed by the passions. Men and women do not perform actions for
the well being of their neighbor. Men and women perform actions because they are
self-interested and the actions they do perform they believe will result in their benefit.


Through his poem, Rochester is making jest at the moralist belief that man is governed by
the faculty of reason and therefore acts in the best interest of the community. He does
this by using the most powerful image of all - sex. His crude language and graphic images
surely catch the attention of any reader and draws the wrath of any moralist. His words
mock the very foundation of the moralist belief system.


Like Rochester, Swift's uses foul images and crude language to heighten his attacks on the
modern's view of progress. Swift admired the passion and imagination of the ancient world.
He believed modern thoughts, particularly science, inhibited imagination and passion. He
did not believe reason and science advanced society; rather, he believed such things
stifled society's growth. His words were the fist that swung at the order that modern
institutions attempted to force on society and culture.


Similar to Rochester's style, Swift drew on images that a modern and progressive society
would disdain. His masterpiece, Gulliver's Travels, contain many such images. When he is
fourteen, Gulliver is taken in by a surgeon, Mr. James Bates. Mr. Bates served as
Gulliver's master for four years. A more fitting title for Mr. Bates would then be Master
Bates. Gulliver does later refer to his overseer as the "good master Mr. Bates."

Continues for 8 more pages >>




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