Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lecture 4 Summary

Our fourth lecture looked at two texts: 'The Royal Exchange' and 'The Spectator 476'.

Lets start with the Royal Exchange, a text that explores the concept of communication and world trade. Addison's general outlook on the Exchange is a positive one, using language to explore the idea of multiculturalism. He describes himself as a 'citizen of the world', also going on to explain the advantages of trade between nations. Addison creates a link between the natural world and international communication, implying that nature seems to have spread its 'gifts' to create connections and bonds between countries. He writes: "Nature seems to have taken a peculiar care to disseminate the blessings among the different regions of the world".


The writer also picks up on how each country seems to bring its own unique produce to the Exchange. France is referred to as 'our garden' and the Chinese are referred to as 'our potters'. Addison shows that England is somewhat dependant on other countries for produce and he even goes as far as referring to England as 'barren'.

Addison's account of the Royal Exchange is somewhat humorous in parts. The writer picks up on the idea that England as a nation is lucky as it doesn't have to deal with extreme climates, yet at the same time is able to reap the rewards from other countries who grow their produce within these conditions. He states: "Whilst we enjoy the remotest Products of the North and South, we are free from those Extremities of Weather which give them Birth".

The second text, The Spectator 476, discusses how people go about portraying their ideas and feelings. The text explains how the way in which ideas are portrayed has an impact on how they are received. If the description of an idea is overcomplicated, its true meaning is lost/misunderstood. Addison relates this idea to the construction of essays and writing in general. For example, he writes: "The advantages of a reader from a methodical discourse, are correspondent with those of the writer", essentially stating that if a writer is methodical, his ideas are easier for readers to interpret for themselves. I think this relates to the thought patterns of history's great philosophers. It may be particularly difficult to explain a complex philosophical concept or idea, which proves the way in which a theory is worded/set out is the key to ensuring it is understood.

Addison uses 2 rhetorical devices (In the form of Tom Puzzle and Will Dry) to prove his point. Tom Puzzle is an individual whom is particularly well-spoken. As Addison states himself, "This makes Tom Puzzle the admiration of all those who have less sense than himself". The writer is explaining how people take notice of Tom Puzzles elaborate language and assume he is a figure of knowledge. Ultimately, Tom Puzzle is intelligent enough to question the world around him, but not to resolve the questions it is that he is asking. In contrast to Tom is 'Will Dry', a concise individual of few words. As Addison describes him, Will Dry is 'a man of a clear methodical head, but few words'.

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