Rasselas Essay Questions

At a time when intelligence promised so much, Johnson’s text offers a sobering, humbling critique of intellectual ability and its perceived efficacy in solving problems and ensuring lifelong happiness. Henri-Jacques Stiker explores the subject of intellect, particularly how intellect has been viewed by Western Culture.

He writes: No investigation has the right to present its results as the totality, as complete; Western intelligence has too long exploited this pretension and has too often presumed that knowledge was finite and fully attainable.

Because Johnson has remained an important literary voice, the fact of his own disability brings the coalescence of the disability category into the foreground.

Davis examines the transition from ignoring disability to focusing on it: this transition highlights a formative process that affects not only the body, but the self, and the culture that produces the self.

Imlac and the astronomer were contented to be driven along the stream of life without directing their course to any particular port.

Of these wishes they had formed they well knew that none could be obtained.The group eventually returns to Abissinia with the conviction that they will never find complete and everlasting satisfaction.This somewhat pessimistic note is sounded in the final moments of : The prince desired a little kingdom, in which he might administer justice in his own person, and see all the parts of government with his own eyes; but he could never fix the limits of his dominion, and was always adding to the number of his subjects.This essay will begin by examining Johnson’s The eponemous hero, a prince, becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his privileged, comfortable life cloistered in a valley where he awaits the day he will rule the land.Because of his discontent with “the soft vicissitudes of pleasure and repose” (4), he decides to leave the so-called “Happy Valley” and heads for Cairo, and he is joined by his sister Nekayah, her servant Pekuah, and their friend Imlac, a poet.There is no man whose imagination does not sometimes predominate over his reason, who can regulate his attention wholly by his will, and whose ideas will come and go at his command.All power of fancy over reason is a degree of insanity; but while this power is such as we can control and repress, it is not visible to others, nor considered as any depravation of the mental faculties: it is not pronounced madness but when it comes ungovernable, and apparently influences speech or action.If the Enlightenment signified an historical moment of power obtained through learning, the cautionary words of the astronomer reveal an ultimate weakness, an utter powerlessness hidden by the arrogance of perceived ability.The astronomer casts a dubious shadow over the self-proclaimed light of human progress.The following are worth contemplating: members of society who lack this kind of intuitive reasoning ability (or who perhaps do not display it in customary ways) often are marginalized, singled out as abnormal, and/or designated as ‘freaks.’ Constructed to privilege personal autonomy and meritocracy, liberal societies ( in John Locke’s classic sense of the word) in theory reward the ‘best and the brightest,’ the implication being that the “dumbest and the dullest” will in turn be punished or at least disregard for not , the idea of intellect explored with a surprising degree of finesse. happen much more often than superficial observers will easily believe.The philosophically minded poet Imlac states: Disorders of intellect . Perhaps, if we speak with rigorous exactness, no human mind is in its right state.


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