Irony and Fictional Characters
Xiyun Yang '06, English 171, Brown University, 2003
In Samuel Johnson’s
It might be expected, that upon these glimpses of latent dignity, we should all have begun to look round us with veneration; and have behaved like the princes of romance, when the enchantment that disguises them is dissolved, and they discover the dignity of each other; yet it happened, that none of these hints made much impression on the company; every one was apparently suspected of endeavouring to impose false appearances upon the rest; all continued their haughtiness in hopes to enforce their claims; and all grew every hour more sullen
Why does Johnson create fictional characters to illustrate this particular point? Why is the essay in letter form?
How does Johnson establish credibility in a supposedly nonfiction essay with a fictional character? The characters become wary of each other, despite the irony, does the reader become wary of Johnson at all? Does the reader trust Johnson?
As an author who is aware of his audience, how does Johnson gain credibility while at the same time remain entertaining?
In this essay, what is his thesis and how does he view human nature?
Last modified 3 December 2006