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The Age of Queen Anne

Anne (6 February 1665 1 August 1714) became Queen of


England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of
Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a
single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain. She continued to reign
as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death.
Her father, James, was first in line to the throne. His Catholicism was unpopular
in England and on Charles's instructions Anne was raised as a Protestant. Three
years after he succeeded Charles, James was deposed in the "Glorious Revolution"
of 1688. Anne's Protestant brother-in-law and cousin William III became joint
monarch with his wife, Anne's elder sister Mary II.
In what became known as the "Glorious Revolution", Anne's brother-in-law,
William of Orange, invaded England on 5 November 1688 in an action that
ultimately deposed King James
Hereditary monarchy, ruling by virtue of a right of which the origin is lost in the
mists of a venerable antiquity was revolted against. The idea of the theocratic
republic, growing into distinct shape in the minds of Milton, Cromwell, and other
Puritans, drove them to march through war and regicide, and revolution towards
its accomplishment. But neither of these two ideas had, after turning England
upside-down, succeeded in establishing itself; the country had acquiesced a
compromise. Partisans of the theocratic republic were forced to put up with king,
constitution, law, and an Erastian church; nevertheless they were tolerated, and
even allowed to write and preach what they pleased, so long as they did not
openly advocate sedition.
This age was inspired by high emotional and imaginative fervour. It was
dominated by prevailing spirit of satire and moral preaching. Under Queen Anne,
moral bankruptcy prevailed over society. The petty vanities of women increased.
They practised various affectations such lisping, constant head tilts, fainting fits
and languishing with pride and vanity.
Conversation was extremely important both as an activity and an ideal in the age
of Neoclassicism. As Bruce Redford points out in The Converse of the Pen: Acts of
Intimacy in the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (1986), conversation and its
written form, the personal letter, exemplified the perfect combination of nature
and art, individual and society. Samuel Johnson "reminds us that face-to-face
exchange among the elite was not random utterance but virtuouso exercise."
Swift, Addison, Steele, Shaftesbury, Chesterfield, Fielding, and a host of
anonymous courtesy-writers all exalted 'the Art of Conversation.' Every
writer on the subject emphasized the importance of following rules designed to
achieve an ideal of 'Civility,' an ideal finely poised between impertinent
'Freedom' on the one hand and undue 'Ceremony' on the other.
Underneath the enlightenment ideals of rationality, order and knowledge,
society embraced a pervasive obsession with decorum, a faade of established
traditions and vanities, as well as an innate sense of moral and political
supremacy.
Satires during this period aimed to point out the shortcomings of society through
ridiculing accepted standards of thought, exposing Britains flaws and chastising
the hypocrisy of the time. Writers like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift used
different types of satire and logic, in order to shine a light on separate aspects of
British society, providing much-needed criticism of the profuse moral corruption
of a society that sometimes seemed to forget the true ideals of its age.
Through The Rape of the Lock , Pope aspired to influence the British mindset of
their age and inspire it to move forward into a new era of enlightenment with
regards to social and political morality.

Citations:

http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/545/satire-in-18th-century-british-
society-alexander-popes-the-rape-of-the-lock-and-jonathan-swifts-a-modest-
proposal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne,_Queen_of_Great_Britain
http://www.1902encyclopedia.com/E/ENG/english-literature-08.html
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20248654/Rape-of-the-Lock-A-Picture-of-Society
http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/tech/conversation.html