The Rape of The Lock, by Alexander Pope Essay

The Rape of The Lock, by Alexander Pope Essay

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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. Pope’s The Rape of the Lock uses epic conventions such as, structure, the depiction of the epic hero embodying the culture’s values, and the usage of supernatural machinery to satirize and mock the superficiality of the 18th century high-class society.
The traditional style of an epic is conveyed in its tone and structure. Epic poems are structured in such a way that they include heroic rhyming schemes, heroic similes, and lengthy, formal speeches. The heroic-couplet, which rhymes the pairs in the form of iambic pentameters, is what makes up the heroic-rhyming scheme. This form of couplet produces a kind of melodious appreciation of the text. It was immensely popular amongst the different epics written throughout history to employ a serious tone to the poem through rhyming. However, it was utilized by Alexander Pope, in The Rape of the Lock, to create a lighthearted mock-epic, which pokes fun at the 18th century society in which he lived. The “trivial” is made apparent in the opening couplet of the poem: “What dire offence from am’rous causes springs, / What mighty contests rise from trivial things” (Canto I, 1-2). The first line i...


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...Fair Tresses of Man’s Imperial Race insnare, / And Beauty draws us with a single Hair” (Canto II, 27-28); the lock’s “transcendent beauty and power, Pope insinuates, is partly another make-believe in the eyes of Belinda’s vanity” (Cunningham, 58). Only after Belinda realizes that her hair is immortalized and will still be the envy of everyone is she satiated and happy again; proving that trivial matters are what fuels this society.



Works Cited

Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary Of Literary Terms And Literary Theory. 4th ed. USA: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.
Cunningham, J.S. Pope: The Rape of the Lock. London, UK: Edward Arnold LTD, 1961. Print.
Pope, Alexander. The Rape of the Lock. Ed. Elizabeth Gurr. London, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Pope, Alexander. The Rape of the Lock. Ed. J.S Cunningham. London, UK: Oxford University Press, 1966. Print.

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