Praise of Folly Essay

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In the prefatory letter of his “Praise of Folly” Erasmus mentions his good friend, Thomas More, and dedicates this essay to him.   The first pages are spent defending his wit and sarcasm about serious matters to those who might criticize this work.   The book is narrated by the personification of “folly” speaking to a crowd of men, asking them to listen to what she has to say.   Folly announces that she will be giving a eulogy in praise of herself.   She goes on to say that she is always herself, and never tries to appear as anything else, as foolish men sometimes do.   Folly claims that her father is Plutus, the god of riches; she states that no matter what anyone says, he is the father of gods because all the affairs of humankind are subject to his will.   Folly’s mother is Freshness, or youthfulness and she was nursed as a newborn by Drunkenness and Ignorance.  
After describing her origins, folly goes on to list her accomplishments.   One of these is giving ignorance to the very young and to the very old, allowing them to be young and foolish at heart.   Another is the folly or foolishness that women possess.   Folly describes women as beautiful creatures who are incapable of becoming wise.   Their sole purpose, according to folly, is to bring joy to men, as evidenced by their make-up, bathing, and hair dressing.   Folly also enables men to party and enjoy themselves, and allows men to see through the faults of others in friendship.   Another thing folly enables is war; it is foolishness because more harm than good comes to both sides of the battle.   Erasmus points out that because emotions are ruled by folly, the wise men and stoics strive to rid themselves of all human emotions.   This kind of man needs no friends, and no state or army would want him as their leader.  
The person of folly claims foolish behavior as her own, and goes on to include religious behavior.   Folly states that all madness is not misfortune, that sometimes those who do not know the truth are...

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