Essay on The Scale of Values in Alexander Pope's Poem The Rape of the Lock

Essay on The Scale of Values in Alexander Pope's Poem The Rape of the Lock

Length: 1377 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Scale of Values in Alexander Pope's Poem The Rape of the Lock


I found Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" a delightful, amusing poem. Throughout the poem, trivialities are compared with events and objects or consequence and the insignificant is treated with utmost importance. Its very title gives the reader an immediate clue; "rape" and all its connotations bring to mind a heinous crime of physical and spiritual violation. Perhaps this description could apply to the theft of a lock of hair, but only in a world where normal morals are perverted. This skewed scale of values is shown repeatedly throughout the poem, and supporting this alternate world are the sylphs. As the souls of former coquettes, the sylphs exist solely to preserve and perpetuate Belinda's beauty and coquetry. As I read the piece, I was delighted by the absurdity of Belinda's world and the effort expended by the sylphs in maintaining this environment of inconsequence.

Delightful in and of itself is the explanation of the sylph-forming process. Sylph Ariel says to Belinda, "Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled, / That all her vanities at once are dead: / [...] The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair" (1.52-53, 65). Thankfully, once a woman dies, the flirt lives on. We may all be assured of the miraculous triumph of the inconsequential. Ariel continues, "Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, / And love of ombre, after death survive" (1.55-56). Pursuing these temporal pleasures is not the only pastime of the sylph; maintaining the coquettish way of life is equally important.

Ariel refers to Belinda as "Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care/ Of thousand bright inhabitants of air" (1.27-28). Belinda is the center of the univers...


... middle of paper ...


...same time:

Oh, had I rather unadmired remained
In some lone isle, or distant northern land;
[...]
There kept my charms concealed from mortal eye,
Like roses that in deserts bloom and die. (3.153-158)

Such a romantic image: a beautiful young woman in isolation, with no one to appreciate that beauty (but no one to mar it, either).

Belinda, I suppose, learned to move past her life's tragedy, and hopefully thereafter her sylphs redoubled their efforts in guarding her locks. I liked this poem. I liked flamboyant exaggeration of little things and acts of little consequence, and the comparisons between things small and great. I enjoyed how the sylphs lived to perpetuate these ideas.


Works Cited

Pope, Alexander. "The Rape of the Lock". The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 6th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1993. 2234-2254.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Connotations of Marriage and Social Morals in Alexander Pope´s Poem "The Rape of the Lock"

- ... 25-32, Pope) The poem reveals the superficiality and immorality of mankind making judgements in favor of appearances rather that morality. Belinda’s idea of 'honour' is seen to mean little more than 'reputation'. The sexual truth is finally admitted when Belinda wishes the Baron had been “content to seize/ Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these” (IV.175-76, Pope). This sort of innuendo was remarkably popular, reflecting no doubt of a powerful taboo. Pope wants to suggest that beauty enhances or even sublimates the coarser passion....   [tags: Enlightenment, Courtship, Sexuality]

Powerful Essays
1355 words (3.9 pages)

The Role of Women in The Rape of the Lock Essay

- On the surface, The Rape of the Lock is a retelling of an episode that caused a feud between two families in the form of an epic. One might believe that in his version, Alexander Pope portrayed the women of the story as shallow, vain little girls, however on a deeper level the women are crucial to the story. Aside from not being as helpless as they appear, each woman possesses a different kind of power that contributes to their character greatly. Rather than being the conceited and shallow figures expected of the time period, the women in The Rape of the Lock posses more power than meets the eye....   [tags: Alexander Pope, poem analysis]

Powerful Essays
828 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

- The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope It all began in the year 1712 when the infamous Lord Robert Petre cut a lock of hair un- knowingly from the head of his beloved Arabella Fermor, setting off a chain of events that would soon lead Alexander Pope to write one of his most famous poems, The Rape of the Lock. Pope’s main purpose was to “laugh the two [lovers] together” and solve the social crisis that had resulted; however Pope also accomplished a little something extra (L1C 2504). Hidden inside his poem is a crafty criticism of the society that helped to create the crisis over the stolen lock in the first place....   [tags: Rape Lock Alexander Pope Essays Poetry]

Powerful Essays
2226 words (6.4 pages)

Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock Essay

- ... She wears her locks knowing they will lure everyone to her beauty and she may mesmerize them and have the power. The title of the poem points to a rape, but not the conventional rape the reader may think of, rather, it is the rape of a lock of hair as Pope writes. Often women are blamed for the actions that led to a rape, and the reader can interpret Pope as saying that Belinda got what she was looking for, considering she did a lot of extra work to lure men into her web. Her beauty was incredible, “If to her share some female errors fall, / Look on her face, and you'll forget 'em all” (1.17-18)....   [tags: women want to win]

Powerful Essays
1302 words (3.7 pages)

The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope Essay

- “The Rape of the Lock” is a poem written by Alexander Pope that uses Horatian satire to satirize the trivialness of a lock of hair being cut from a woman’s head without her knowledge. Pope writes the poem in a mock-epic style to help trivialize this minor incident. Pope uses the conventions and techniques of epic poetry in his mock epic. These techniques include heroes that are elaborately described, use of supernatural beings, and description of trivial things as battles. Unlike most epic poetry where males portray the heroes, Pope uses a female, Belinda, as his heroine....   [tags: horatian satire, triavalness, belinda]

Powerful Essays
1105 words (3.2 pages)

The Rape of The Lock, by Alexander Pope Essay

- The Rape of the Lock, written by Alexander Pope, is a mock-epic with a serious purpose. This narrative was written to diffuse a real life quarrel between two high-class families in 18th century England; the Petres and the Fermors (Gurr, 5). The character’s names were changed but their characteristics hold true; simply put, Belinda, young and beautiful, had a lock of her hair cut off by the Baron and this thus causes a feud amongst the two families. Pope wrote this mock-epic by employing humor and light-hearted wit in order to diffuse the tensions, but also to mock the superficiality of that society....   [tags: Book Review, Mock Epic]

Powerful Essays
2135 words (6.1 pages)

Essay on The Downfalls of Materialism in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock

- The Downfalls of Materialism in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock Commodities have been a part of human culture from the start of the first civilizations. They can be crudely constructed or richly made works of art; they are still objects, however. Some people treasure their possessions more than anything in the world. These objects can become the driving force behind a person's life and desires. When someone's prized possession is stolen, it may seem as though a disaster has taken place....   [tags: Pope Rape of the Lock Essays]

Powerful Essays
2851 words (8.1 pages)

Essay on Belinda Placing Blame in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock

- Belinda Placing Blame in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock I will be examining lines 147-160 of Canto IV in The Rape of the Lock. In this selection, Belinda speaks in a monologue, apparently regretting past actions that have caused her the loss of her lock. However, it becomes clear that she is exaggerating her loss and the preventive measures she could have taken. By citing radical changes that would have been necessary to prevent the occurrence, she makes it clear that it is very difficult for a woman to escape men....   [tags: Pope Rape of the Lock Essays]

Powerful Essays
1443 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Pope Admiring Belinda in The Rape of the Lock

- Pope Admiring Belinda in The Rape of the Lock The main character of Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" could be considered both hailed and damned by the overseer, but the complexities and sometimes contradictions of Belinda spark a more unbiased view. The appearance of Belinda and the world in which she lives is described in a very fantastical and beautiful way. Even small details such as the arrangement of Belinda's hair are due to wondrous entities known as the Sylphs, whose sole task is to make sure she is looking her best....   [tags: The Rape of the Lock Alexander Pope Essays]

Powerful Essays
1110 words (3.2 pages)

Rape of the Lock Essay

- NOTES ON THE RAPE OF THE LOCK This is possibly of Arabella Fermor (1696-1737), a famous London society beauty. She was the heroine of Alexander Pope 's humorous poem, 'The Rape of the Lock', about the theft of a lock of her hair. (http://www.vam.ac.uk/images/image/11948- popup.html) Did you know that “The Rape of the Lock” is such a famous poem that it even has its own website. Here is its address, as well as some other very helpful websites on the poem, the mock-heroic and Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock Home Page – http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/pope/rape.html http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/locknote.html http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/18th/ http://andromeda.rutgers...   [tags: Alexander Pope]

Free Essays
1348 words (3.9 pages)