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

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

Length: 2851 words (8.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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. Those who witness the aftermath of a stolen possession may comment on the triviality of both the theft and the owner's reaction to the loss. In The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope is commenting on the triviality of a lost possession. Pope blurs the line between people's personalities and their possessions. He creates a world in which people are their commodities and important ideals in society are also transformed into concrete objects that could be stolen from society.


Before the first canto, the commenting on trivial objects begins in the letter to Mrs. Arabella Fermor from Alexander Pope. In this section, Pope apologizes for the first edition and describes what he has added into the next edition. He even states why he has decided to add the spirits of the Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders to the poem. The phrase "for the ancient poets are in one respect like many modern ladies: let an action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance" (Lipking 2526) explains Pope's argument throughout the poem. He even playfully pokes fun at Mrs. Arabella Fermor in the letter when he says, "(except the loss of your hair, which I always mention with reverence)" (Lipking 2527), as the poem is based o...


... middle of paper ...


... attached to mere objects. Pope strives to correct or change the goals of society in order to avoid another episode of conflict over a possession. Perhaps he is simply poking fun at those members of society who are too ignorant to realize that if one flaunts a possession, one must expect the possession to be desired and possibly stolen.


Works Cited

Baines, Paul. The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope. London: Routledge, 2000.

Markley, Robert. "Beyond Consensus: The Rape of the Lock and the Fate of Reading Eighteenth Century Literature." Critical Essays on Alexander Pope. Ed. W. Jackson and R. P. Yoder. New York: Hall, 1993. 69-83.

Pope, Alexander. The Rape of the Lock. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Lawrence Lipking, M. H. Abrams, and S. Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2000. 2525-2544.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

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)

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

- 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....   [tags: Pope Rape of the Lock Essays]

Powerful Essays
1377 words (3.9 pages)

The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope Essay

- Social Satire in Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” Alexander Pope’s distinct use of satire and mockery make this parody of Ulysses’ “The Iliad”, more socially dramatic and induces much rhetoric. Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” shows many interesting characteristics and can easily be understood in the terms of early English literature. Through close supervision and examination of “The Iliad”, one can see the similarities and some of different plot twists in which Pope intended. Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” has biblical teachings throughout in Helps the reader to realize that it is it satirical....   [tags: illiad, christians, rhetoric]

Powerful Essays
1045 words (3 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, 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 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)

Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man

- Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man is generally accepted as a wonderfully harmonious mass of couplets that gather a variety of philosophical doctrines in an eclectic and (because of its philosophic nature) antithetic muddle. No critic denies that Pope's Essay On Man is among the most beautifully written and best of his works, but few also deny that Pope's Essay On Man is an incoherent conglomeration of "incongruous scraps" ("A Letter..." 88) of philosophical axioms....   [tags: Alexander Pope An Essay On Man]

Powerful Essays
1151 words (3.3 pages)

Alexander Pope's Essay on Man

- Alexander Pope's Essay on Man - Man is Never Satisfied Alexander Pope's Essay on Man is a philosophical poem, written, characteristically in heroic couplet. It is an attempt to justify and vindicate the ways of God to man. It’s also a warning that man himself is not as in his pride, he seems to believe the center of all things. Eventhough not truly Christian, the essay makes implicit assumption that man has fallen and that he must seek his own salvation. Pope sets out to demonstrate that no matter how imperfect complex and disturbingly full evil the universe may appear to be, it does function in a rational fashion, according to natural laws and is in fact considered as a whole perf...   [tags: Alexander Pope's Essay on Man]

Powerful Essays
514 words (1.5 pages)

Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope Essay

- Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock is not studied and admired only because of its style and form, but also for its base content and underlying themes. Pope's ability to manipulate text into mock-heroic form, constructing a flow of satirical description is what makes this poem one of such quality. The piece was first published in 1712 by the request of Pope's friend, John Caryll. It was to make peace between the Fermors and Petres, two prominent Roman Catholic families at the time....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
595 words (1.7 pages)