AD's English Literature : Critical Appreciation of Joseph Addison’s essay, “The Exercise of the Fan”: Theme and Style

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Critical Appreciation of Joseph Addison’s essay, “The Exercise of the Fan”: Theme and Style



  “Mr. SPECTATOR,

Women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more Execution with them.”
 The EXERCISE of the FAN The Spectator n.102 Wednesday 27 June 1711
 “The Exercise of the Fan” is a delightful and equally interesting Essay  of Joseph Addison. It aims at providing innocent diversion. The method of the Essay  is derived from the fables of Phaedrus. The Essay  is in epistolary form which revels the classical influence of Seneca’s Moral Epistles. It or the like started a form of writing which was to affect both the subsequent Essay  and the Novel. It hints “The mind ought sometimes to be diverted, that it may return the better to thinking.” The very idea of the fan as a weapon of ‘offense’ requiring specialized training for its effective use is hilariously amusing. So is the picture of a female regiment assayed in a hall, each one aimed with a fan, and waiting to execute commands like Ground your fans or Discharge your fans. The Essay  contains neatness and lucidity. II has precision of expression. Its style is highly polished and cultivated. There is spontaneity and ease in it. It is also written in a familiar and elegant manner. The Essay  contains neatness and lucidity. It has precision of expression. Its style is highly polished and cultivated. There is spontaneity and ease in it. It is written in a familiar and elegant manner. We observe in it delightful plasticity of language. Its prose is smooth and highly refined. It is a tint example of Addison’s style. It is very delightful and pleasant. The sentences line embellished and polished. Their movement is smooth and brisk. The language is not very ornamental and ornate. The ideas are expressed clearly and vividly. The Essay  reveals clarity of ideas. It has compact and dignified expression. Its language is forceful fluent and impressive. It has charm and freshness of its own. It has simplicity of manner. It shows ease of expression. 

The use of the fan requires as much training as the use of the rifle. Addison receives a letter from some correspondent on the subject of an academy that he has opened to provide training to aspiring ladies in the proper use of the fan. He informed him about an academy to impart training to ladies in the art of the fan. The use of the fan requires as much training as the use of the rifle. The fan in the hand of a lady has the same function as the sword in the hand of a gentleman. Read More Transitional Period  She has to accomplish much more with the fan than men with the sword. In fact men arc taught the art of sword-play in expensive academies hut no such facility is provided to women. So he has decided to impart teaching the art of using the fan in the most effective as well as polished manner. The correspondent explains the basic movements in the art. According to him they are six in number. He has described the method of training. It is just like the training given to soldiers in the use of rifles. The fan in the hand of a lady discharges the same function as the sword in the hand of a gentleman. In fact ladies accomplish much more with the fan than men with the sword. Men are provided the art of sword play in expensive academies but no similar facility is provided to ladies. The correspondent explains the basic movements in the art. According to him they are six in number. Read More Transitional Period  (i) Handling of fans, (ii) Unfurling of fans, (iii) Discharging of fans, (iv) Grounding of fans, (v) Recovering of fans and (vi) Fluttering of tans. He explains the meaning and purpose of each action. He mentions that a veritable language can be based on the fluttering of the fan. He thinks that a fan can be a prude or a coquette according to the character of the ladies. The correspondent asserts that he has a written or treatise on the art. It is called the passions of the Fan. He informs that a mass parade of trainees is to be held on next Thursday. Addison says that he has been invited to attend it. The correspondent has written to him about the holding of a class to impart the art of gallanting the fan to young gentlemen. The fans used for this purpose are ordinary ones. They do not cost much.

Handling of the fan is the first step in the training. The regiment of trainees assembles in a spacious hall. At the word of command they handle the fans. Read More Transitional Period Each trainee shakes the fan at the instructor with a smile. She then gives a tap with the fan on the shoulder of the women on her right and presses tier lips with the end of her fan and lets her arms fall gracefully to her sides and then stands in readiness for the next command. This part of the exercise can be mastered in a week.

Unfurling of the fan is the second step in the training. It includes several flirts and vibrations. Ii exhibits deliberate opening and closing of the fan. It is very delightful to watch this exercise. In this exercise each trainee holds a picture in hand.

Discharging of the fan is the third step in the training. It is the most difficult part of the exercise. It needs the fan to he opened with a smart sound. Art lies in producing as loud a sound as possible. In the beginning the ladies fails to produce a sound loud enough to be heard at the other end of the hall. But   after proper training the ladies come trained and produce a sound as impressive as that of a pocket-pistol.

Grounding the fan is the fourth step in the training. When the trained ladies are at the discharging of the fan, the word of command is given. Now they are raising the fan in a graceful manner. It is to be done on to a long table. The table kept in the hall for that purpose. The lady throws the fan aside. Then either trainee is required to ground the fans, It is a typical exercise. It consists in takes up a pack of cards or she tries to adjust a curl of hair. Sometimes she places a falling pin or engages herself to any other matter of significance.
Recovering of the fan is the fifth step. Read More Transitional Period The ladies gently walk about the rain for sometimes. They return to their fans. They take them up in a hurry as soon as the word of command is given.

Fluttering of the fan is the sixth step. It is the climax of the exercise. It is to be mastered in about three months. It is provided in the hottest part of the art.

Addision’s Prose Style:  (i) Compact expression. (ii) Humorous touch. (iii) Clarity of ideas. (iv) Neatness, lucidity and precision. (v) A satire on the vain trivialities of women. (vi) Felicity and ease.

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