Literary Satire / Literary Criticsm: You Are the Judge--Better Get Good at It!

        Both satirists and literary critics in the Restoration and early C18 are attempting to reform public taste and morals.  Each asks readers to feel the role they are to play as satire's audience, judges of human behavior, and literary criticism's audience, judges of human writing.  The former asks you to weigh highly placed people's violations of good taste and violations of custom or violations of law; the latter asks you to weigh poets' aesthetic or philosophical violations.  Do not think either target trivial--contemporary fools and criminals endanger the current public, and remember Sidney's point that poets shape their societies' future selves.  When the subject of the satire is an author, you can mock both their public behavior and their works (Thomas Shadwell--the mock-hero of "MacFlecnoe" and Milton--the mock-hero of "Uppon Nothing" and partial antagonist of "Satyre Against Reason and Mankind" (see esp. ll. 1-110 and compare Paradise Lost, Books I and IV (AKA, Milton's "how amazing is my cosmic poetic vision?" and "how cool are we in Eden?").