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Canonical Literature: Rape of the Lock Essay

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Children grow up learning that just because someone teaches something, it doesn't mean they'll follow their own advice. In Rape of the Lock, Clarissa lectures:
“Say, why are beauties praised and honored most,/ The wise man’s passion, and the vain man’s toast?/ Why decked with all that land and sea afford,/ Why angels called, and angel-like adored? Why round our coaches crowd the white-gloved beaux,/ why bows the side box from its inmost rows?/ how vain are all these glories, all our pains,/ Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains;/ That men may say when we the front box grace,/ ‘Behold the first in virtue as in face!’” (Canto 5 9-18).
Clarissa explains that men are dense and dim witted, as beauty is ephemeral and more importance should be focused on intelligence, temperament, and integrity. While at first glance, this speech may appear to be the message of the story, Pope thinks otherwise. Her speech, to use an old cliché, is a prime example of “do as I say not as I do” as Clarissa’s involvement in the “rape” complicates the situation, since she was the person who gave the Baron the scissors to cut Belinda's hair. Also, Pope contradicts Clarissa’s speech about beauty being ephemeral by ending the epic poem with Belinda’s lock turning into a star for everyone to see for Eternity. Although Belinda’s vanity seems to be the cause of the “rape” as it seemed she set herself up for failure by her constant conceit, this is not the case. Literature can serve to point out character flaws and make people see themselves as other characters and bring to light different outlooks on someone's behavior. Another example of leaders abandoning their own words of wit is Bruce Springsteen. Francine Prose writes, "Bruce Springsteen once tried ...


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Marchand-Martella, Nancy; Martella, Ronald. SRA Flex Literacy: Test Complexity and Close Reading. McGraw Hill Education. 18 May. 2014. Web.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Signet Classic. New American Library. 1961. Print.
Orwell, George. 1984. Ed. Erich Fromm. New York: Harcourt. 1949. Print.
Prose, Francine. I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read. Harper’s Magazine. September 1999.
Santana, George. Famous sayings.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Literature and Composition. Carol Jago et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. Print.
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Webley, Kayla. "Brief History: Burning Books." Time Magazine. 20 September. 2010. 1-2. Print.



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