Analysis Lord Chesterfield’s seems to have a condescending and almost ironic tone in a letter to his son. Starting out his letter, Lord Chesterfield writes, “Dear BOY’ (pre-line 1). This phrase gives the vibe that he is trying to stay superior to his son by calling him “boy’ instead of son. He may feel as if he does not have enough power over his son, and this may improve his feelings about the matter.
Later on in the letter he tries to UT the burden of how kind his father will treat him by writing, “[Y]our merit must, and will, be the only measure of my kindness” (lines 29-30). He is trying to tell his son that his good deeds will provide him with kind treatment from his father. This is both ironic and condescending because he is hinting that his son does not normally have good behavior, therefore his father will not have to treat him with kindness.
Lord Chesterfield also shows how dependent his son is on him by saying, “l do not, Hereford, so much as hint to you, how absolutely dependent you are upon me” (lines 25-26). This shows that he has power over him because he would not be able to do anything without his wonderful father. He also says that he does not even have to mention the fact that he is depending on his father, which is a slap in the face because he is showing off the fact that his son would be nothing without him.
This tone effects the letter as whole by making it more cold and unfriendly.