Phillis Wheatley | Criticism

This literature criticism consists of approximately 21 pages of analysis & critique of Phillis Wheatley.
This section contains 6,257 words
(approx. 21 pages at 300 words per page)
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SOURCE: "Phillis Wheatley's Subversive Pastoral," In Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 27, No. 4, Summer, 1994, pp. 631-47.

In the following essay, Shields studies Wheatley's adoption of classical tropes and attributes to her poetry a subtle critique of the social injustice of her time.

Most readers of Phillis Wheatley's poetry have long been aware that she employed the pastoral mode in her poems with some frequency. These readers have not recognized, nevertheless, that this poet manipulated the pastoral mode in a subversive manner. The work of Annabel Patterson instructs us that "what people think of Vergil's Eclogues is a key to their own cultural assumptions, especially as those are organized by the concept of the artist/intellectual."1 As the brevity of the Eclogues "made them a natural exercise for elementary education in the classics," so Patterson observes, "they entered the European consciousness at a formative stage."2 Whoever tutored Wheatley in Latin, for of...

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This section contains 6,257 words
(approx. 21 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by John C. Shields
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