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. In this manner, she is able to lay most of the blame for the rape of the lock on the nature of men rather than her own vain lifestyle. During her exaggerated monologue, Belinda will refer to events earlier in the poem, from her social life at Hampton Court, to the opulent life she has lived, as root causes of her misfortune. All the while though, the undercurrent of the passage will convey the feeling that it is mainly the fault of men since a woman can only do so much to protect herself.
For ever curs'd be this detested Day,
Which snatch'd my best, my fav'rite Curl away!
Happy! Ah ten times happy, had I been,
If Hampton-Court these Eyes had never seen!
Yet am not I the first mistaken Maid,
By Love of Courts to num'rous Ills betray'd.
Oh had I rather unadmir'd remain'd
In some long Isle, or distant Northern Land;
Where the gilt Chariot never marks the Way,
Where none learn Ombre, none e'er taste Bohea!
There kept my Charms conceal'd from mortal Eye,
Like Roses that in Desarts bloom and die.
What mov'd my Mind with youthful Lords to rome?
Oh had I stay'd, and said my Pray'rs at home! (Pope IV. 147-160)
In lines 147-148, she curses this "detested" day on which her lock was "sn...
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...the helplessness of a beautiful woman like her in a society of men like the Baron. At times we are given the impression that the mistake was indeed hers when Belinda cites examples of things she could have done and should have done to prevent the rape of her lock. Such a reaction from Belinda reinforces the notion of the rape serving as a metaphor for a sexual rape. The reaction of many women in our time to sexual rape is almost exactly like Belinda's reaction to the rape of her lock. However, it becomes clear that Belinda is only over exaggerating after she goes on and on speaking of radical changes that would have prevented her loss. It is evident that she is attempting to convey the idea that it was not herself who was at fault but men in general, particularly the Baron.
Pope, Alexander. The Rape of the Lock. New York: Bedford Books 1998.
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