Q.Discuss Pope as the representative of the 18th Century.

A great work of art, though universal in its appeal, is the most typical product of its time. It is rooted in the contemporary and crrunt social and cultural life and reflects, implicitly or explicitly, that life is in its essence and totality. It is an indispensable prerequisite for the greatness of a work of art. If it fails to be of its own age, almost as a rule, it will also fail to be universal in its appeal. It is a great poem by all cannons of art and it does all that admirably. Its focus mainly captures the typical features of the aristocratic class of its time. The Rape of The Lock gives a complete and graphic picture of the 20th century. The Rape of The Lock is concerned with the aristocratic society and presents a charming portrait of its features. This portrait is not presented in word-pictures of descriptive passages; but is richly suggested through the mock-epic adventures of Lord Petre and Belinda – the representative figures of the society. The aristocratic of the 18th century English was a newly formed class, having emerged out of the commercial prosperity of England since the exploits of the Armada victory. The aristocratic people were primarily urban people with easy flow of money from trade and commerce and in some classes from the hoardings of land. They were luxury loving people, enjoying life in idle games and fun and frolic. Being wealthy with a new-found lust for money and craze for fashion, mostly imitated from the French whose influence had come through the Restoration. They got themselves preoccupied in trivialities. Gossips, sex-intrigues, and courting ladies. The ladies of the time loved being wooed and playing coquets to the gentlemen. Mirror to the 18th century: The Rape of the Lock is a mirror to this kind of society. Of which Lord Petre and Belinda are the representative figures. Belinda is presented as dazzling charming like the sun, and lap-dogs were another indispensable ingredient of their lives. Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: It is significant that how Pope brackets lap-dogs and lovers as though lovers were no better than lap-dogs. Glittering fashion, celebrations in the form of parties, dances with amorous intentions beneath, were the typical features of the people belonging to the aristocratic class. Ariel’s speech that Belinda hears in a state of dreaming portraits the sex-intrigues of the dancing balls. The ladies spent more time applying to themselves beauty aids, a large variety of cosmetics from distant lands. They were always burning to win the heart of their lover. They spent hours at the toilets, played card games, danced and considered the dressing table a place of worship. Coquetry was the only art that these ladies practiced sedulously: rolling the eye ball for furtive glances or winking in a debonair, apparently indifferent manner, blushing at the right moment to attract the admiring eyes, were the manners that they worked hard to acquire. The ladies as well as the gallant young men were fickleminded, inconsistent, unreliable frankly trivializing valuable human relationship. Pretension, dissimulation and hypocrisy constituted their way of life. Levity was their common characteristic. The following shows their picture. On the rich guilt sinks with becoming woe, Wrapt in a gown, for sickness, and for show. The fair ones feel such maladies as these, When each new night-dress gives a new disease Pope gives minute details of the ladies’ constant concern for enhancing their beauty effect with artificial means. For these ladies, the conventionally serious things of life had lost their importance.

he indicates the vanity and futility of it all. Serious purpose had evaporated from their lives. Honor. It the mirror of a particular aspect of life in the age of Pope. Losing heart or indulging in sex was less important than the loss of a necklace. says Dryden. According to Richard Garnett. Juvenal and Horace are the two well-known satirists in the verse of Roman Literature. Pope has caught and fixed for ever the atmosphere of the age. To them. Dryden wrote a number of satires such as the Hind and the Panther. the fashion of coffee-taking. Shallowness of Judges. Poetic satire may be regarded as didactic poetry. Introduction: Poetic satire may be regarded as didactic poetry or the object it has in view is the reformation of man and his manners and to this end. The hungry judges soon the sentence sign And wretches hang that the jury-men dine “Coffee. Lowell. John Donne and John Marston wrote poetic satires. mockery. so artistic and yet so void of the ideal on which all high art rests. was almost equal to nothing. In the Elizabethan Age. the Dunciad and the Progress of Dullness. Pope displays his unsurpassable wit. in other words. triviality. To them Church meant nothing. Their love letters were more sacred to them than the Bible. (which makes the politician wise. meaningful purpose in life.) and see through all things with half-shut eyes” The Rape of the Lock is an epitome of the eighteenth century social life. As Dixon asserts: Pope is the protagonist of a whole age. It reflects and mirrors the contemporary society. Satire is a distinct element in Chaucer and yet he cannot be called a satirist. In this poem. In the seventeenth century. the death of husbands affected them only as much as that of their lap-dog or breaking of China jars. of an attitude of mind and manner of writing. In the Rape of the Lock. Trifles would make them anxious or angry. follies. Men were chiefly concerned with getting richer and carrying on sexual adventures with fashion-frenzy coquettish ladies. The satirist uses humor. Lord Petre’s sense of victory at the cutting of Belinda’s lock is symbolic of the shallowness. but it gave back a faithful image of society. all is vanity and emptiness and this Pope has revealed with art and brilliance. the fire at the altar is raised with the heaps of love-letters that he had received. the emptiness of the youths of the contemporary aristocratic class. All this goes to show that utter moral confusion prevailed in the aristocracy of the eighteenth century. were devoid of any real moral sense. says. to them. but Horace’s irony is more graceful and easy. and Pope has described it in gorgeous colors on the one hand and with scathing satire on the other. “The true end of satire is the amendment of vice by correction”. wit. And in soft bosoms dwell such mighty rage The contrast between “tasks so bold” and “Little men” and another between “soft bosoms” and “Mighty rage” is very wittingly constructed and cuts down to size these vain people of Pope’s time. and significantly. These ladies. but their work lack vigor. the poem is highly arresting because of its presentation of social life of the age. In the very opening lines. Missing a church congregation was not a serious affair. He chides with a smile. the satirist takes the liberty of boldly censuring vice and vicious characters. full of force and often savage like that of Swift. Most people agree that satire is the criticism of life and an exposure of human weaknesses. The Rape of the Lock is a satire on the aristocratic strata of the 18th century society. it is built of twelve voluminous French romances and all the prizes gained from him former love. It was. There is nothing deep or serious in the lives and activities of the fashionable people. “The expression in adequate terms of the sense of amusement for disgust excited by the .Their moods and passion were ruled by trivialities. or any serious. hylite it. ridicule and irony to achieve his goal – his moral end. While it shows the grace and fascination of Belinda’s toilet. The former’s satire is pointed. the adventurous Baron builds an Alter of Love. The Rape of the Lock reflects the artificial age with all its outward splendor and inward emptiness. No great English poet is at once so great and so empty. the poet laughs at “little” men engaging in “bold” tasks and at gentle ladies who are capable of such “Mighty rage” In tasks so bold little men engage. Conclusion: Pope fully bears the witticism of its age. Hence. This was the kind of life led by the fashionable people of the upper classes in the age of Pope. absurdities and shortcomings. but missing a ball was considered an important thing. There is no misanthropy or cynicism in him. in fact. Q. a mirror in a drawing room. In his conception of theme and selection of the tile. The loss of chastity was no more serious than staining of brocades.

Thus it a direct satire on the upper-class society of Pope’s time. The Baron represents not Petre alone but typifies the aristocratic gentleman of that age. it confines itself to the person and has no relation to the world. but they don’t know that. but against the follies and vanities in general of fashionable men and women. too. functions in somewhat the same manner.ridiculous or unseemly. It amends vice by castigation. The same sentiment is really implied in the more playful lines of the Rape of the Lock. And wretches hand that jurymen may dine. Instances of Satire: The poet has satirized the system of judges that they. The witty lines are read not with kindly irony but as disagreeable sneers. The Rape of the Lock. the beau revived again. Stopford Brook in comparing Dryden and Pope as satirists says. Here thou. She is the type of the fashionable ladies of the time and in her the follies and frivolities of the whole sex is satirized. hurriedly sign the sentence so that they could have their dinner in time. which were deadly. Satire predominates the work of Pope. and one in song Even the greatest of the great. The satirist. she doesn’t like to be called her friend. provided that humor is a distinctly recognized element. Without humor satire is invective. But. Belinda’s friend Thalestris is as shallow as the age he lives in. Friends are hollow and fickle. Chloe stepped in. It is in fact a satire on feminine dandies. the Queen herself is satirized to produce a truly comical and witty effect.” In the Rape of the Lock. Meanwhile. The sylphs are warned by omens that some misfortune impends. the poet forgot his original intention and satirized female follies and vanities. In the strange battle fought between the fashionable belles and the vain beau. sharp and bitter marked by malice. Pope’s satire. at 4 o’clock. the Dunciad and Moral Essays are the best of his satires. It doesn’t condemn like Swift. Women are all frivolous beings. The hungry judges soon the sentence sign. Pope’s satire is thin. “is no more an enemy to the offender than the physician to the patient when he prescribes harsh remedies to an inveterate disease”. whose genuine interest lies in love-making. but simply and lightly exposes the frivolities and dandies of the people. a great Anna whom three realms obey/ Dost sometimes counsel take – and sometimes tea. Use Diana’s Passage above! Pope was inspired by a prevailing sentiment of contempt against the whole female sex. Even a cursory glance at his poetry reveals that the major part of it consists of satire. the fall of Dapperwit and Sir Fopling is particularly demonstrative of the hollowness of the people of this age: A beau and witling perished in the throng One died in metaphor. declining from the noon of day. “Dryden’s satire has relation not to the man he is satirizing. Pope wrote many satires against individuals. She smiled to see the doughty hero slain.” Pope’s satire: The true objective of satire is moral. As soon as Belinda’s reputation is gone. but to the whole of human race. Belinda is not Arabella Fermore. . When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down. withoutliteraryform it is mere clownish jeering. at her smile. in the words of Dryden. Even the concept of friendship has been attack. The satire in the Rape of the Lock is directed not against any individual. and killed him with a frown. The strange battle between the sexes shows what kind of people they are. the whole panorama is limited to the 18th century aristocratic life. The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray. Pope started writing this poem to reconcile two quarreling families but as the poem progressed.

Pope’s satire is unique. are poems like the Odyssey. Paris and the subsequent war between the Greeks and the Trojans can be appropriately described as a poem dealing with the “Rape of Helen”. while the Odyssey describes the adventures of Odysseus. but the target of the attack may be a person or persons. The Rape of the Lock parodies the serious epics not only in it title but also in the overall structure. The subject of such a poem is trivial or unimportant. and Paradise Lost dealing with man in his exalted aspects. The pleasure of the poem. intellectual and full o wit and epigram. a mock-heroic poem is not a satire on poetry itself. but not so the praise If she inspire. driving in Hyde Park. The mockepic is a poetic form which uses the epic structure but on a miniature scale and has a subject that is mean and trivial. Virgil’s Aeneid deals with the adventures of Aeneas and ends with the hero’s finding his divinely ordained destiny as the founder of the Roman Empire. begins his Iliad thus: chilles’ wrath to Greece the direful spring Of woes unnumbered heavenly goddess sing Virgil declares in Aenied that “Of arms and man I sing” Milton starts his epic “Of man’s first disobedience to and to justify the ways of God to man” Pope imitate these conventions when he declares in his poem. The Rape of the Lock is thus a parody of the Iliad in this sense. take active part in human affairs and guide the destiny of their chosen participants. painted with a humorous and delicate satire. The writer makes the subject look ridiculous by placing it in a framework entirely inappropriate to its importance. Their whole day’s program seems to be nothing but a waste. At the beginning. one of the Greek kings in the war of Troy. Their whole day’s program seems to be nothing but a waste. Heroic or Epic poems. ensues from “comparing small men to giants and making pygmies of them in the process”. for example.Conclusion: The poem is a reflection of this artificial and hollow life. for example. Homer’s Iliad which describes the events arising out of Helen’s elopement with a Trojan prince. the Aeneid. Homer. That is how the Greeks took this whole episode. The Iliad. for in this poem. . What dire offence from am’rous causes springs what mighty contests arise from trivial things I sing – this verse to Caryll Muse! is due This ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view: Slight is the subject. The poem is divided into five cantos like the five acts of a drama. The title of Pope’s poem. A mock-epic parodies the epic in the sense of which Dr. Pope’s description of the Rape of the Lock as a mockheroic poem misled some readers into thinking that the comic attack was intended against heroic-poetry. gods and daemons. the mighty contest ensues from the rape or assault on the lock of Belinda’s hair. there is a statement of purpose and invocation to the Muse as in a serious epic. In fact. Johnson described parody as “a kind of writing in which the word of an author or his thoughts are taken and by a light change are adapted to some new purpose. their personages are dignified and their style is elevated.” Pope was fully conscious of his intentions to make The Rape of the Lock a mock-epic poem is evident from the title he has given it. Milton Paradise Lost represents the fall of the rebellious angles from Paradise and justifies the ways of God to man. an institution or institutions or the whole society. These pleasures are petty – flirting. card-laying. Lowell rightly says that “Pope stands by himself in English verse as an intellectual observer and describer of personal weaknesses”. Their action is weighty. In all the epics. Give here a synopsis of the poem. and he approve my lays. The purpose of the mock-epic or mock-heroic poem is satirical. but the treatment of the subject is heroic or epic and such exaggeration of the trivial naturally arouses laughter. It paints the ideal life of the pleasure-seeking young men and women. deals with the tough and prolonged battle between the Greek and the Trojan Heroes. Similarly. It introduces to us a world of fashion and frivolities. Heroic or Epic poems. according to Maynard Meck. as Ian Jack points out. visiting theaters and writing love-letters.

Ovid and the Bible. whether pagan or Christian. but the action of the mortals was not enough. The Cave of Spleen is a parody of an allegorical picture. “the machine crowns the whole work” Pope. nymphs and salamanders – as agents in the story. Spenser and Milton as well as reminiscences of Catallus. the sylphs and gnomes reduce the divine and demonic agents of an epic poem to their diminutive status. This is the ironic contrast. The diction is exalted throughout. gives a mock dignity to the action of the Rape of the Lock by the use of machinery of sylphs and gnomes. when Ariel searches out the close recess of the virgin’s thoughts. The Rape of the Lock is a poem ridiculing the fashionable world of Pope’s day. Belinda’s guardian sylph. In an epic poem. but pope’s deities are tiny. Taken from the Rosicrucian cult. The combat at the end recalls the fighting which is found anywhere in the ancient epics. Supernatural Machinery: In all epics. He. resigned to fate. but man’s own free choice of will they are as helpless as Ariel and his comrades are in the face of Belinda’s free choice of earthly lover. diction and versification are rarely so. The love of horses which they had. We find a supernatural being who threatens his inferiors with torture. But there are several occasions when we feel that the epic world of homer and Virgil has in this poem been scaled down. wittily and affectionately. therefore. The gods of the epic are heroic beings. Virgil. the Angles of God retire mute and sad to heaven. examples of which may be found in poets like Spenser. Though the subject-matter of the Rape of the Lock is trivial and ridiculous. the style. alive. The poem contains parodies of Homer. Pope knew that in true epics the affairs of men were aided or thwarted by the Heavenly Powers. therefore. when alive And love of Ombre. to admit the coffee-table and the fashionable lady’s bed-chamber. god and daemons. Unlike the deities of the epics. The angles could have protected Adam and Even against Satan. participate in the action side by side with the human agents. Ariel’s description of the metamorphosis of a prudish woman into a sylph – Her joy in gilded chariots. We find a battle drawn to combat like the Greek warriors. after death survive – is a direct parody of Aeneid in Dryden’s translation. The Epic Style: Within this framework. An outstanding mock-heroic in the poem is the comparison between arming of an epic hero and Belinda’s dressing herself and using cosmetics in order to kill. Subsequent events of the poem parody the epic structure in the similar way. Ariosto. after death survive. Pope describes the diminutive gods of the poem as “the light militia of the lower sky”. There are several instances of Burlesque-treatment. Milton and Shakespeare. Pope describes a society-lady in terms that would suit the arming of a warrior like Achilles. the description of the heroine’s toilet. Ariel is an ineffectual/airy being who deserts her at the most critical moment. and Pope tells us that Ariel retires with a sigh. But it is a Sylph. gnomes. But it is only a game of cards on a dressing table. as Le Bossu had emphasized. The Rape of the Lock contains many allusions to Homer. but she is a mere slip of a girl. added the bodies of the supernatural beings – sylphs. Belinda screams like the Homeric poems and dashed like the characters of the great epics. who act guardian agents of the epic heroes. There is a coffee party which is a parody of the meals frequency described in Homer. The opening invocation. Just before the cutting of the lock. This situation echoes the moment in Paradise Lost when after the fall of Adam and Eve. There is Belinda’s voyage to Hampton Court which suggests the voyage of Aeneas up to the Tiber in Virgil. not Jove. the journey to Hampton Court . And care of chariots. which Bayle had described as the “sect of mountebanks”. There he finds an earthly lover lurking in her heart.It is through these words that we understand that the beginning is like that of most epics. The supernatural machinery of the poem thus provides a gentle mockery of the epic deities and increases the charm of the poem as a mock-heroic. Virgil. the heroiccouplets are carefully polished and chiseled and the classical device of periphrasis is . the game of ombre magnified into a pitched battle all lead up to the moment when the peer produces the fatal pair of scissors.

satire is mixed with genuine charm which surrounds Belinda. Favors to none. “glittering Forfex” and the fatal engine for a tiny pair of scissors. Or some frail China jar receive a flaw. . chastity is equated with ‘frail China jar’ honor with new brocade. heart with a necklace. rayer with a masquerade. Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe appears rather simple and straightforward when compared with Pope’s poem. Conclusion: All these devices make The Rape of the Lock a highly subtle and complex mock-epic. In the Rape of the Lock. Collateral of the Great with the Little: A mock-epic or mock-heroic in the Augustan sense of the term in itself is an example of the collation of the great with the little. they shine on all alike. Clarissa drew with tempting grace A two-edged weapon from her shining case. to all she smiles extends. Pope does not deny the charm and glamour and the artificial world she presides over. or hew brocade. but never once offends. And like the sun. Whether the nymph shall break Diana’s law. Forget her prayers. In the Rape of the Lock. her eyes the gazers strike. The very opening couplet juxtaposes “Mighty contest” with trivial things”. The Mock-heroic effect is produced by the context which emphasizes that the invincible “steel” referred to here is the steel of the pair of scissors with which the Baron cuts off Belinda’s lock. Is central figure. The use of the periphrases – “two-edged weapon”. Belinda’s description in the second Canto is both a genuine admiration for her beauty and charm and a mild criticism of her pride and coquetry. from steel receives it dates And moments like men submit to fate! Steel cou’d the labour of the gods destroy. The confusion of values which informs Belinda’s world could not have been presented in a way better than this juxtaposing of the great with the little. Elsewhere. and infidels adore. But when to mischief mortals bend their will. Which Jews might kiss. At the end of Canto II. The effect of this collation is highly amusing and startling. The very opening line of The Rape of the Lock – What dire/my lays could very well open a serious epic. however. Oft she rejects. Or stain her honour. or miss a masquerade. In these three couplets. she is genuinely fascinated fascinating and remains so in the rest of the poem. or a necklace.frequently resorted to. Or whether Heaven has doom’d that Shock must fall. Bright as the sun. On her white breast a sparking cross she wore. one notices a similar elevation of style: What time would spare. Pope frequently juxtaposes the heroic with the trivial to produce the mock-epic effect. And strike to dust the’ imperial tow’rs of Troy The rhetoric style is the same that occurs in epic poetry. Or lose her heart. Pope achieves this effect by reducing the great to the level of the trivial. In her barge over Thames. It is only when one notices that this brilliance and gaiety are at the expense of something much more important that they appear to be trivial and hollow. at a ball. How soon they find fit instruments of ill! Just ‘hen.

in the classical period. and. to the lofty subject matter of love and war. Greek and Roman gods are converted into a relatively undifferentiated army of basically ineffectual sprites. Then the sun (“Sol”) appears to initiate the leisurely morning routines of a wealthy household. more recently. to the intricacies of the Christian faith. The heroic couplet consists of rhymed pairs of iambic pentameter lines (lines of ten syllables each. The great. The great battles of epic become bouts of gambling and flirtatious tiffs. particularly in the hands of this brilliant poet. Moreover. and the rituals of religious sacrifice are transplanted to the dressing room and the altar of love. It is the triumph of insignificance of foppery and folly. and loaded with moral implications. Pope’s transformations are numerous. and jewelry substitute for armor and weapons. Analysis: Themes and Form The Rape of the Lock is a humorous indictment of the vanities and idleness of 18th-century high society. The society on display in this poem is one that fails to distinguish between things that matter and things that do not. the genre of the mock-epic not only because it parodies the epic conventions and devices throughout. The Rape of the Lock is a poem in which every element of the contemporary scene conjures up some image from epic tradition or the classical world view. Thus the mock-epic resembles the epic in that its central concerns are serious and often moral. measured. clothing. The verse form of The Rape of the Lock is the heroic couplet. exposing its pettiness by casting it against the grandeur of the traditional epic subjects and the bravery and fortitude of epic heroes: Pope’s mock-heroic treatment in The Rape of the Lock underscores the ridiculousness of a society in which values have lost all proportion. and . The epic had long been considered one of the most serious of literary forms. striking. She has been dreaming. and although it is already noon. Pope still reigns as the uncontested master of the form. and the pieces are wrought together with a cleverness and expertise that makes the poem surprising and delightful. Pope’s couplets do not fall into strict iambs.The Rape of the Lock is a nearly perfect example of its genre. Basing his poem on a real incident among families of his acquaintance. but also because it provides a highly amusing drama of its own rights. flowering instead with a rich rhythmic variation that keeps the highly regular meter from becoming heavy or tedious. by Milton. but to mock his society in its very failure to rise to epic standards. bells begin to ring. The poem mocks the men it portrays by showing them as unworthy of a form that suited a more heroic culture. The little is made great and the great little. Pope intended his verses to cool hot tempers and to encourage his friends to laugh at their own folly. alternating stressed and unstressed syllables). Pope distributes his sentences. Lapdogs shake themselves awake. Pope’s use of the mock-epic genre is intricate and exhaustive. You hardly know whether to laugh or weep. The balance between the concealed irony and the assumed gravity is as nicely trimmed as the balance of power in Europe. The poem is perhaps the most outstanding example in the English language of the genre of mockepic. if capricious. Belinda still sleeps. It is the perfection of the mock-heroic. or compared against one another. with their resolutely parallel grammar. across the lines and half-lines of the poem in a way that enhances the judicious quality of his ideas. it had been applied. The greatness of the poem is due to Pope’s genius as well as to the care and pains he took in a different form. The strategy of Pope’s mock-epic is not to mock the form itself. the inherent balance of the couplet form is strikingly well suited to a subject matter that draws on comparisons and contrasts: the form invites configurations in which two ideas or circumstances are balanced. but the fact that the approach must now be satirical rather than earnest is symptomatic of how far the culture has fallen. however. Canto 1 Summary The Rape of the Lock begins with a passage outlining the subject of the poem and invoking the aid of the muse. moralizing premise of the poem. Cosmetics. It is thus perfect for the evaluative. and the trivial is handled with the gravity and solemnity that ought to be accorded to truly important issues.

” The Sylphs. to any woman that “rejects mankind. and finally the scuffle at the end. She then proceeds to her dressing table and goes through an elaborate ritual of dressing. Of these Spirits. The second line confirms in explicit and plain terms what the first line already suggests: the “am’rous causes” the poem describes are not comparable to the grand love of Greek heroes but rather represent a trivialized version of that emotion. Upon the delivery of a billet-doux. 1. they are devoted. “the face that launched a thousand ships but rather a face that—although also beautiful—prompts a lot of foppish nonsense. then the cutting of the lock. All of the following classic conventions appear in Pope’s poem as well: the ambiguous dream-warning that goes unheeded. and a susceptibility to flattery and favoritism. unseen. mischievous plotting by deities to exacerbate situations on earth. who dwell in the air—serve as Belinda’s personal guardians. The “contests” Pope alludes to will prove to be “mighty” only in an ironic sense. All of the manifestations of these in Pope’s poem evoke the world of Greek and Roman gods who displayed malice as often as benevolence. One epic element of the poem is the involvement of capricious divinities in the lives of mortals. like Helen of Troy.” a “goddess. she forgets all about the dream. prayers that are answered only in part. First the card game. assist their charge as she prepares herself for the day’s activities. The dream is of a handsome youth who tells her that she is protected by “unnumber’d Spirits”—an army of supernatural beings who once lived on earth as human women. Comments Pope introduces the conventional epic subjects of love and war and includes an invocation to the muse and a dedication to the man (the historical John Caryll) who commissioned the poem. Shock. or with different outcomes than anticipated. or love-letter. although the credit is usually mistakenly given to “Honour” rather than to their divine stewardship. The youth explains that they are the invisible guardians of women’s chastity. He turns . one particular group—the Sylphs. not the great battles of epic tradition.we learn that the dream has been sent by “her guardian Sylph. a heavenly being’s renunciation of a human after pledging to protect her.” and they understand and reward the vanities of an elegant and frivolous lady like Belinda. A second mock-heroic element is the description of games and trivial altercations in terms of warfare.” Ariel. They are card-games and flirtatious tussles. the chief of all Belinda’s puckish protectors. Yet the tone already indicates that the high seriousness of these traditional topics has suffered a diminishment. Discuss two mock-heroic elements of the poem. Belinda is not. are all described with the high drama attending serious battles. Pope’s displays his creative genius in the dexterity with which he makes every element of the scene correspond to some recognizable epic convention. in which her own image in the mirror is described as a “heavenly image. though he can tell her nothing more specific than that she should “beware of Man!” Then Belinda awakes. lover-like. warns her in this dream that “some dread event” is going to befall her that day. Ariel. to the licking tongue of her lapdog.

a curl. and the allegory reflects on their their real social significance in new and interesting ways. At what time do “sleepless lovers” awake in this poem? (A) Dawn (B) Noon (C) Tea-time (D) Midnight 3.everyday objects—a petticoat. Who is Shock? (A) Belinda’s horse (B) Belinda’s lapdog (C) The Baron’s horse (D) The poet’s muse 2. To what are Belinda’s eyes repeatedly compared? (A) The sun (B) Stars (C) Flames . 1. a pair of scissors. and a hairpin—into armor and weapons. Who inspires Belinda’s dream in the first canto? (A) The muse (B) The Baron (C) Ariel (D) Umbriel 4.

and west 6. south. What does Belinda wear around her neck? (A) A cross (B) A locket (C) A ribbon (D) A ruby 7. queen. and jack (C) Earth.(D) Gems 5. and diamonds (B) Ace. James Park (C) The Tower of London (D) Hampton Court Palace 8. and water (D) North. Where is the party held? (A) Cheapside (B) St. clubs. Who wins the hand of ombre? (A) Belinda (B) The Baron . east. To what do the four types of supernatural beings correspond? (A) Spades. air. king. hearts. fire.

What beverage is served after the card game ends? (A) Tea (B) Coffee (C) Wine (D) Brandy 10. Who arms the Baron with a pair of scissors? (A) Belinda (B) Sir Plume (C) Lord Petre (D) Clarissa 11. Whither does Umbriel journey? (A) Hades .(C) Ariel (D) The Queen 9. Who gets accidentally cut by the scissors? (A) The Baron (B) Clarissa (C) One of the Sylphs (D) Shock 12.

What does Thalestris think the Baron will do with the lock? (A) Show it off to all their friends (B) Have it set into a ring (C) Neither of the above (D) Both of the above 14. Pope’s description of her charms includes “the sparkling Cross she wore” on . She is accompanied by a party of glitzy ladies (“Nymphs”) and gentlemen. but is far and away the most striking member of the group. What happens to the lock of hair at the end of the poem? (A) It is returned to its rightful owner (B) It is set into a ring (C) It is offered to the poet as a token of gratitude (D) It is turned into a constellation Canto 2 Summary Belinda. rivaling the sun in her radiance. What effect does Sir Plume’s speech have on the Baron? (A) It convinces him to return the lock (B) It makes him feel guilty for what he has done (C) It encourages him to propose to Belinda (D) It has no effect 15.(B) The Cave of Spleen (C) The Cave of Despair (D) The Cave of Envy 13. sets out by boat on the river Thames for Hampton Court Palace.

it can be adored by “Jews” and “Infidels” as readily as by Christians. mimicking the epic tradition of sacrificing to the gods before an important battle or journey. curls. who are Belinda’s protectors. The fact that he discards all his other love tokens in these preparations reveals his capriciousness as a lover. an assessment which she herself corroborates in the first canto when she creates. The cross that Belinda wears around her neck serves a more ornamental than symbolic or religious function. an altar to her own image. Yet the character of female coyness is such that it seeks simultaneously to attract and repel. Commentary From the first.” Certainly he has some interest in flattering Arabella Fermor. . The Baron. divine gifts. specifically designed to ensnare any poor heart who might get entangled in them.her “white breast. who remembers that some bad event has been foretold for the day. the real-life woman on whom Belinda is based. This praise is certainly in some sense ironical. with a mixture of censure and awe. are essentially charged to protect her not from failure but from too great a success in attracting men. Earnest prayer. which he describes elsewhere as “nature to advantage dress’d. Pope alludes to the epic convention by which the favor of the gods is only a mixed blessing: in epic poems. are actually a carefully contrived effect. They disperse to their posts and wait for fate to unfold. to win the sponsorship of one god is to incur the wrath of another. is “to tend the Fair”: to keep watch over ladies’ powders. and billet-doux (love-letters). and Crispissa her locks. and supported in its function of protecting the maiden’s chastity by the invisible might of fifty Sylphs. in order for his poem to achieve the desired reconciliation. Her curls are compared to a trap perfectly calibrated to ensnare the enemy. the ramifications of a prayer “half” granted are negligible rather than tragic. or the “white breast” on which it lies—or the felicitous effect of the whole. of course. everyone is carefree except Ariel. Her crowning glories. though. Ariel pronounces that any sylph who neglects his assigned duty will be severely punished. Pope describes Belinda’s beauty as something divine. He summons an army of sylphs. Here.” her “quick” eyes and “lively looks. This undergarment is described as a defensive armament comparable to the Shield of Achilles (see Scroll XVIII of The Iliad). And there is some ambiguity about whether any of the admirers are really valuing the cross itself. and drapes his project with an absurdly grand import that actually only exposes its triviality. In the first canto. it must not offend (see “Context”. perfumes. it merely means that he will manage to steal just one lock rather than both of them. to Pope’s own literary art.” If the secret mechanisms and techniques of female beauty get at least a passing nod of appreciation from the author. and to “assist their blushes. The ritual sacrifices he performs in the predawn hours are another mock-heroic element of the poem. By having the gods grant only half of what the Baron asks. he nevertheless suggests that the general human readiness to worship beauty amounts to a kind of sacrilege. which appear so natural and spontaneous. He sacrificed several tokens of his former affections. The Sylphs. gloves. in this parodic scene. the Baron. and clothing. We read that he rose early that morning to build an altar to love and pray for success in this project.” Therefore. including garters. Brillante is to guard her earrings. Ariel himself will protect Shock. after regulating celestial bodies and the weather and guarding the British monarch. As the pleasure-boat continues on its way. reflecting negatively on a system of public values in which external characteristics rank higher than moral or intellectual ones. Because of this. He reminds them with great ceremony that one of their duties. A band of fifty Sylphs will guard the all-important petticoat. the religious imagery surrounding Belinda’s grooming rituals gave way to a militaristic conceit. so that the counterpart to the enticing ringlets is the formidable petticoat. since “some dire disaster” threatens Belinda. One of the young gentlemen on the boat.” fanning its flames with his “am’rous sighs. the lapdog. who assemble around him in their iridescent beauty. Yet in this poem. and has determined to steal them for himself. Pope also exhibits his appreciation for the ways in which physical beauty is an art form: he recognizes. particularly admires Belinda’s locks. Ariel assigns her an extensive troop of bodyguards. is the most significant of those who worship at the altar of Belinda’s beauty.” The gods listened to his prayer but decided to grant only half of it.” These curls are described as love’s labyrinths. perhaps. In this. the same pattern holds. he says.” and the easy grace with which she bestows her smiles and attentions evenly among all the adoring guests. at least metaphorically. He then prostrated himself before a pyre built with “all the trophies of his former loves. This paradoxical situation dramatizes the contradictory values and motives implied in the era’s sexual conventions. But Pope also shows a real reverence for his heroine’s physical and social charms. and inspire their airs. are the two ringlets that dangle on her “iv’ry neck. such as immortality. claiming in lines 17–18 that these are compelling enough to cause one to forget her “female errors. is replaced by the self-indulgent sighs of the lover. Momentilla her watch. the fact that Belinda’s legendary locks of hair. can seem a blessing but become a curse. the mysteries of the lady’s dressing table are akin.

Finally. like missing a ball (here. and the staining of honor or a gown (the two incommensurate events could happen equally easily and accidentally). Commentary This canto is full of classic examples of Pope’s masterful use of the heroic couplet. They play ombre. Belinda. A daring sylph jumps in between the blades and is cut in two. adding words like “ravish” and “betray” to the “rape” of the title.” This line employs a zeugma. and the Baron exults while Belinda’s screams fill the air. he describes it as the place where Queen Anne “dost sometimes counsel take—and sometimes tea. and it is described in terms of a heroic battle: the cards are troops combating on the “velvet plain” of the card-table. and here Pope cultivates that suggestion. In introducing Hampton Court Palace. the breaking of china (another allusion to the loss of virginity). the sexual allegory of the poem begins to come into fuller view. The title of the poem already associates the cutting of Belinda’s hair with a more explicit sexual conquest. however. a three-handed game of tricks and trumps. Clarissa draws out her scissors for his use. This fact furthers the idea that the rape of the lock stands in for a literal rape. as when he remarks that “when success a Lover’s toil attends. where he is surprised to find “an earthly lover lurking at her heart. The curling vapors of the steaming coffee remind the Baron of his intention to attempt Belinda’s lock. In the Sylphs’ defensive efforts. but recovers in the last trick so as to just barely win back the amount she bid. Ariel. blowing the hair out of harm’s way and tweaking her diamond earring to make her turn around. or at least represents a threat to her chastity more serious than just the mere theft of a curl. . if fraud or force attain’d his ends. a rhetorical device in which a word or phrase modifies two other words or phrases in a parallel construction. the hand takes a turn for the worse when “to the Baron fate inclines the field”: he catches her king of clubs with his queen and then leads back with his high diamonds.” He gives up protecting her then. Soon. under the watchful care of the Sylphs. He also mentions some pettier social “disasters” against which the Sylphs are equally prepared to fight. sure of success. begins favorably. / few ask. After a pleasant round of chatting and gossip. he is quickly restored. the shears close on the curl. Belinda is in danger of being beaten.In this canto. the implication is that she secretly wants to be violated. as grave as missing prayers) or losing the lapdog. but modifies each in a different way or according to a different sense. The deed is done. Canto 3 Summary The boat arrives at Hampton Court Palace. Belinda’s petticoat is the battlefield that requires the most extensive fortifications. He multiplies his sexually metaphorical language for the incident. but being a supernatural creature. he tries three times to clip the lock from behind without Belinda seeing.” When Ariel speculates about the possible forms the “dire disaster” might take. in a last-minute effort. He also slips in some commentary on the implications of his society’s sexual mores. The next ritual amusement is the serving of coffee. She declares spades as trumps and leads with her highest cards. The Sylphs endeavor furiously to intervene. somewhat like bridge. and the ladies and gentlemen disembark to their courtly amusements. he includes a breach of chastity (“Diana’s law”). Here. as a lady would arm a knight in a romance. Taking up the scissors. gains access to her brain. Belinda sits down with two of the men to a game of cards.

By parodying the battle scenes of the great epic poems.” and returns with a bag of “sighs.”) In his descent he passes through Belinda’s bedroom. and the effect of the zeugma is to show the royal residence as a place that houses both serious matters of state and frivolous social occasions. Umbriel passes safely through this melancholy chamber. grief. There to commiserate with Belinda is her friend Thalestris.the modifying word is “take”. The rendering of the card game as a battle constitutes an amusing and deft narrative feat. particularly malaise. against the gossip and chatter of the young lords and ladies. a race of warrior women who excluded men from their society. or when lapdogs breathe their last. where she lies prostrate with discomfiture and the headache. The structure of “the three attempts” by which the lock is cut is a convention of heroic challenges. in the second and third verse-paragraphs of this canto. He unleashes the first bag on Belinda. Thalestris is the name of one of the Amazons. Pope opens a window onto more serious matters that are occurring “meanwhile” and elsewhere. resentment and despair. which often become a mere front for flirtation. The melodrama of her screams is complemented by the ironic comparison of the Baron’s feat to the conquest of nations.” Ill-Nature and Affectation. and tears. The romance is further invoked in the image of Clarissa arming the Baron—not with a real weapon. Sir Plume makes a weak and . She then goes to Sir Plume. (In Greek mythology. Here. holding a sprig of “spleenwort” before him as a charm. Pope is suggesting that the energy and passion once applied to brave and serious purposes is now expended on such insignificant trials as games and gambling. He addresses the “Goddess of Spleen.”) A similar point is made. in a less compact phrasing. and Pope makes it plain that her resistance—and.” After the disappointed Sylphs withdraw. including criminal trials and executions. (For another example of this rhetorical technique. an organ that removes disease-causing agents from the bloodstream.” (The spleen. fueling her ire and despair. / when husbands. “her beau. The reader is asked to contemplate that paradox and to reflect on the relative value and importance of these two different registers of activity. it applies to the paralleled terms “counsel” and “tea. or course. her subsequent distress—is to some degree an affectation. however. see lines 157–8: “Not louder shrieks to pitying heaven are cast.” to ask him to demand that the Baron return the hair. sobs. and economic exchange. Belinda is not a real adversary.) Thalestris delivers a speech calculated to further foment Belinda’s indignation and urge her to avenge herself. an earthy gnome called Umbriel flies down to the “Cave of Spleen. particularly in the romance genre.” But one does not “take” tea in the same way one takes counsel. She is attended by “two handmaidens. and passions” and a vial of sorrow. “spleen” is a synonym for “ill-temper. was traditionally associated with the passions. by implication. Canto 4 Summary Belinda’s “anxious cares” and “secret passions” after the loss of her lock are equal to the emotions of all who have ever known “rage. but with a pair of sewing scissors.

The speech of Thalestris invokes a courtly ethic. Umbriel’s journey to the Cave of Spleen mimics the journeys to the underworld made by both Odysseus and Aeneas. “Oh. is that “the ravisher” might display the lock and make it a source of public humiliation to Belinda and. Sir Plume’s speech is riddled with foppish slang and has none of the logical. and draws on ideals of chivalry in demanding that Sir Plume challenge the Baron in defense of Belinda’s honor. and despair. showing how far from courtly behavior this generation of gentlemen has fallen. Canto 5 The Baron remains impassive against all the ladies’ tears and reproaches. for example. The real danger. He makes a muddle of the task. or any hairs but these!” (The “hairs less in sight” suggest her pubic hair). Clarissa delivers a speech in which she questions why a society that so adores beauty in women does not also place a value on “good . to her friends. Umbriel releases the contents of the remaining vial. This attention to questions of honor returns us to the sexual allegory of the poem. At this.slang-filled speech. resentment. to wear a new nightdress. With “beauteous grief” she bemoans her fate. moral. and laments the lonely. hadst thou. The presence of Ill-nature and Affectation as handmaidens serves to indicate that her grief is less than pure (“affected” or put-on). By placing such disparate sorts of aggravation in parallel. Pope uses psychological allegory (for the spleen was the seat of malaise or melancholy). regrets not having heeded the dreamwarning. Pope accentuates the absolute necessity of assigning them to some rank of moral import. and of a woman whose dress is disheveled. of evil-doers who die without being saved. as a way of exploring the sources and nature of Belinda’s feelings. she would rather suffer a breach to her integrity than a breach to her appearance. Commentary The canto opens with a list of examples of “rage. she exclaims. throwing Belinda into a fit of sorrow and selfpity. Belinda’s own words at the close of the canto corroborate this suggestion. of women who become old maids. The effect is to chastise a social world that fails to make these distinctions. it gives her the occasion. cruel! been content to seize / Hairs less in sight.” comparing on an equal footing the pathos of kings imprisoned in battle. She encourages Belinda to think about the Baron’s misdeed as an affront to her honor. Thus the real question is a superficial one—public reputation—rather than the moral imperative to chastity. Thalestris suggests. pitiful state of her sole remaining curl. or oratorical power that a knight should properly wield. and that her display of temper has hidden motives. We learn that her sorrow is decorative in much the same way the curl was. to which the Baron disdainfully refuses to acquiesce. Pope is pointing out the degree to which she values outward appearance (whether beauty or reputation) above all else. by association.

she again demands that he return the lock. The description of the “battle” has a markedly erotic quality. The mock-heroic conclusion of the poem is designed to compliment the lady it alludes to (Arabella Fermor). When Pope informs us that the Baron fights on unafraid because he “sought no more than on his foe to die. we must have something more substantial and permanent to fall back on. not the weapon of ancient days (or even of Hamlet’s time).” Women are frequently called angels. This final battle is the culmination of the long sequence of mock-heroic military actions. comparing the stoic Baron to Aeneas (“the Trojan”). And Clarissa’s righteous stance loses authority in light of the fact that it was she who originally gave the Baron the scissors. Especially since beauty is necessarily so short-lived. even though the poem has functioned throughout as a critique of that vanity. and Belinda “flies” on her foe with flashing eyes and an erotic ardor. her oration’s thesis aligns with Pope’s professed task of putting the dispute between the two families into a more reasonable perspective. Certainly. too. and Belinda. Belinda’s tossing of the snuff makes a perfect turning point. serves nicely: here a bodkin is a decorative hairpin. she argues. ideally suited to the scale of this trivial battle. it will attract more envy than it ever could on earth. The snuff causes the Baron to sneeze. the poet reasons. since he has used the occasion of the poem as a vehicle to critically address a number of broader societal issues as well. A chaotic tussle ensues. And no real moral development has taken place: Belinda is asked to come to terms with her loss through a kind of bribe or distraction that reinforces her basically frivolous outlook. But the ringlet has been lost in the chaos. but without reference to the moral qualities of these creatures. moralizing speech falls on deaf ears. with the gnome Umbriel presiding in a posture of selfcongratulation. stargazers may admire it now for all eternity. The gentlemen are slain or revived according to the smiles and frowns of the fair ladies. and he alludes as well to the Aeneid . . Clarissa’s failure to inspire a reconciliation proves that the quarrel is itself a kind of flirtatious game that all parties are enjoying. who had to leave his love to become the founder of Rome. in which Pope shows a basic sympathy with the social world in spite of its folly and foibles. Still. Belinda and the Baron meet in combat and she emerges victorious by peppering him with snuff and drawing her bodkin. Sir Plume “draw[s] Clarissa down” in a sexual way. The poet avers that the lock has risen to the heavenly spheres to become a star. and cannot be found. a comic and decidedly unheroic thing for a hero to do. But even in its most mocking moments. The searing critiques of his later satires would be much more stringent and less forgiving. Thalestris and the rest ignore her and proceed to launch an all-out attack on the offending Baron. Pope gives the pin an elaborate history in accordance with the conventions of true epic.sense” and “good humour. Commentary Readers have often interpreted Clarissa’s speech as the voice of the poet expressing the moral of the story. In this way. This ending effectively indulges the heroine’s vanity. as ladies and lords wallow in their mock-agonies. this poem is a gentle one. This sensible. But Pope’s position achieves more complexity than Clarissa’s speech.” the expression means that his goal all along was sexual consummation. Pope invokes by name the Roman gods who were most active in warfare. The bodkin. Having achieved a position of advantage. however. while also giving the poet himself due credit for being the instrument of her immortality.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful