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The Benefits of Being Lazy in "On Laziness" by Christopher Morley

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In the essay “On Laziness” written by Christopher Morley, he believes that being lazy can actually be very beneficial. Whenever a conflict arises, Morley states that “it is due to not having been lazy enough” in the third paragraph. He describes how the only way to be happy is to be “philosophically slothful” and sometimes laziness can lead to success in life. Near the end, Morley advises that readers “mind your idleness,” opening a whole new perspective that is often unknown to many about being lazy.

The time and place of Christopher Morley’s essay “On Laziness” is said to be around the year 1920. In his writing, his ideas are influenced by World War I and the Holocaust, which took place a few years before this essay was published. He argues that if the “Germans had been as lazy… the world would have been spared a great deal.” This major historical event or even Doctor Johnson’s “memorable letter” in 1775 could have prompted Morley’s point of view in writing an essay regarding the topic of laziness.

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The audience of “On Laziness” written by Christopher Morley is addressed towards those who need a “greater appreciation of Indolence.” Morley wants to convince readers that the “customary hustling way” does not leave room for true happiness. He connects with those who do not value laziness by using words such as “we” or “us.” This puts Morley in a position to be more credible, or relate with his audience, and make his writing more persuasive. He also references historical events to describe the benefits of laziness, which back up his argument logically.

In Christopher Morley’s essay his purpose is to make readers realize the power of being lazy. It is this “acquired laziness” that gives man his happiness, as he can focus on himself. Morley wants to share his perspective that laziness does not always have to “stand in the way of progress.” He argues that sometimes laziness can result in the “greatest triumph” as it did with Doctor Johnson. At the end, Morley wants readers to change in a call to action by saying, “Now we are going to join them.”

The subjects of “On Laziness,” include examples from O. Henry, “one of the greatest poets,” the Germans, Doctor Johnson, and mankind in general. Morley creates these topics by stating his opinion in the beginning, and then getting into more details as he proceeds with examples. Within these main ideas, the historical figures and events serve to describe the writer’s point of view on why laziness can be beneficial, as “it is the happy man who benefits the world.”

Christopher Morley’s tone throughout his essay is very ironic and formal. In the first sentence, he says that he planned to write about laziness, “but were too indolent.” Also he describes in one of the examples that the “laziest man” was also the “greatest poet,” which are nearly opposites. Morley believes that working hard also causes great troubles. However, due to the time period that this essay was written, the vocabulary makes the tone also sound very formal. He uses words such as “keenest,” “congenial,” and “tribulation.”

The underlying idea of “On Laziness” written by Christopher Morley is that one should work in moderation in order to value self-care and happiness. He redefines the term laziness, as it does not necessarily “stand in the way of progress.” Morley argues that “customary hustling” has no time for individuals solving their own problems. By being lazy, or distinguishing between work and rest, true content in life can be found. Morley shares his outlook on a term with a negative connotation and leaves readers with a desire to have “acquired laziness.”

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