Notes on Rochester - Julianna Ritter Rochester Upon first...

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Julianna Ritter 2/8/2011 Rochester Upon first reading Rochester’s poems I had difficulty asserting the tone he uses to discuss or describe sex, especially in Love to a Woman . Knowing very little of Rochester’s biography or personality I immediately assumed the poet to have a misogynistic and egotistical personality. My instant reaction was to appreciate the lyrical description but to dislike the author. However the second time reading it through I found the poem to be so histrionic I considered the possibility that it was perhaps an ironic or satirical ode to the views of sexuality at the time, especially in the third stanza: “Farewell Woman – I entend / Henceforth every Night to sitt / With my lewd well natur’d Friend / Drinking to engender witt” (10-13). When I had learned Rochester’s writing purpose – to please the 17 th century aristocratic audience rather than as a means of self-expression, the subtlety of Rochester’s tone became slightly more pronounced from the standpoint of a modern perspective. Rather than this poem being an insight to Rochester’s own beliefs, it is a possibility that he “plays” the part of the self-elevated aristocrat.
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