The argument can be made that the purpose of the Rape of the Lock is to attack the vanity of women. Pope states this directly in his dedication to Arabella – “to laugh at their sex’s little unguarded Follies,” and the author’s use of the mock-epic seems to reinforce this purpose through its comparison of the epic odyssey to trivial events. In this comparison there can also be found a description of the relationship between the sexes not as a mutual co-existence but rather as a war with both sexes constantly striving for supremacy. If this is true, then we must condemn the society in which Pope lived rather than female vanity. I will look at the effects of Pope’s use of the mock-epic in relation to the passage at the end of Canto I which describes Belinda’s making herself up, and also in relation to critical extract 2, which seems to me to be a poorly founded criticism of The Rape Of The Lock.
In the passage beginning "And now, unveil’d, the Toilet stands display’d" (line 121) there are clear uses of the mock-epic in the combative description of Belinda’s self-adornment. The imagery of Belinda as a goddess beginning the "sacred rites of Pride" clearly serves to over-emphasise the importance of make up ...
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...rks Cited and Consulted:
A Choice Of Pope's Verse, edited by Peter Porter, Faber & Faber, 1971
Allison, Barrows, Blake, et al. eds. The Norton Anthology Of Poetry . 3rd Shorter ed. New York: Norton, 1983. 211.
Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary Of Literary Terms , New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Lukes, K. B.A. (Hons.) (Alberta), M.A. (Brit. Col.), English. English 424 Section:3 Term 93/3 Class Lectures Sept. 1993
Pope, Alexander. "The Rape Of The Lock". In The Norton Anthology Of English Literature: The Major Authors . Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 5th Ed. New York: Norton, 1987. 1108-1128
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