Analysis Of Samuel Johnson's 'Rambler'

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Envy is an aspect of humanity that has been approached from many perspectives. In the “Rambler” by Samuel Johnson, the author took the stance that envy is a terrible and purposeless entity that serves only to degrade the quality of life. He analyzed the cause and effects of envy, how it relates to human error, and the consequences it is tied to. To emphasize the true impact of envy, he described the patterns in which he observed it as it manifested around him in his day-to-day life. In this passage, through use of elevated diction, metaphor and personification, and repetition, Johnson made clear his view of envy. Throughout the entirely of Johnson’s portrayal and description of envy, he maintained a constant use of elegant, imagery rich diction.…show more content…
Towards the end of the passage he gave envy disturbing human traits, by writing, “envy is mere unmixed and genuine evil; it pursues a hateful end by despicable means, and desires not so much as its own happiness as another’s misery.” The use of personification in this sentence, and in many others throughout the passage, clearly emphasized that Johnson’s view on envy was far from forgiving. In his writing he kept envy very, perhaps uncomfortably, close to humans, and made sure not to excuse humans of the blame for envy’s effects, but at the same time, gave it some personhood. Furthermore, he wrote, “Envy is, indeed, a stubborn weed of the mind, and seldom yields to the culture of philosophy.” This comparison to something as pesky and frustrating as a weed, exhibits that Johnson believes that envy has such a powerful relationship with human nature, that it can defy the rulings of any society. To show his opinion of envy, he used metaphors to make it clear that envy is symbolic for other human errors and in this way, is incredibly…show more content…
Paragraph after paragraph, sentence after sentence, he wrote in parallel grammatical structures that both reiterated and explained his point. In a sentence towards the start of the passage he used multiple parallel structures, first, “The ruin of another will produce no profit to him who has not discernment to mark his advantage, courage to seize, and activity to prove it;” then, “but the cold malignity of envy may be exerted in a torpid and quiescent state, amidst the gloom of stupidity, in the coverts of cowardice.” The sentence included parallelism first in the form of a repeated noun with verb, then proposition with noun, and displayed the variety of ways in which envy can come to reality. In describing the events that lead to a person realizing how truly evil envy is, he used anaphora, and stated, “When he […] find himself pursued […] when he hears the misfortunes of …” This repetitive description of the tragedies caused by envy emphasizes the number of forms that it can take, and leads the reader towards a view that is in alignment with the writers’ intended
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