In this essay I will look at The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and 'Tam o' Shanter' by Robert Burns, and conclude if they have genuine morals and if so what are they and how do they compare to each other.
The Rape of the Lock in an overview seems to paint a picture of human vanity and the rituals of courtship. The poem appears to have a light almost trivial subject- the unwanted cutting of a woman's hair, however the fashionable/upper class world sees this as serious. In more of a detailed reading the poem also portrays the relationship between men and women, in particular with how they are more concerned with social status, physical beauty and material values as opposed to their morality and character.
This is shown by the character Belinda who relies on her beauty. We are given the impression that women are not valued as individuals and are more or less subordinate. Belinda is an unmarried upper class woman who gains admirers due to her good looks. Maintaining her role in high society depends upon hr marriage, which will not depend on her personality or intelligence, but her beauty as women were merely seen as objects.
We are given the impression that Pope is suggesting his characters are focusing on the wrong things and he seems to criticise his characters for their vanity and lack of morals, he does this through satire. For example he mocks the importance Belinda places on beauty by comparing Belinda's beauty ritual to that of a great hero's donning of armour: “Her files of pins extend their shining rows/ puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet doux./ Now awful beauty puts on all its arms”.1
Pope also moralises on how his his characters seem to almost worship materialistic objects in the sense that Belinda is like...
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...endly, but a t times the narrator employs a tone of ridicule and disapproval and seems to mock Tam, however it all seems to be done in jest and the narrator seems torn in condemning Tams antics or applauding them. He seems to admire Tam and yet also appreciates his wife's morals. The narrator seems to find a middle ground and suggests that men don't have to give up their antics they should just take heed and remember their wives advice or Tam's mare.
Both poems employ the style of mock heroic epics in order to make a insignificant event appear large and important, however whereas The Rape of the Lock employs a more serious form of moralising, 'Tam o' Shanter is merely to entertain and suggests caution rather than actual moral opinions.
Burns, Robert, The Tale of Tam o Shanter,
Pope, Alexander, The rape of the Lock