The Rape of the Locke
The Rape of the Lock is a humorous indictment of the vanities and idleness of 18th-century high society . Basing his poem on a real incident among families of his acquaintance , Pope intended his verses to cool hot tempers and to encourage his friends to laugh at their own folly . Although a timeless piece of literature “The Rape of the Lock is somewhat of a controversial poem . The subject matter , although greatly enhanced through the use of exaggeration and hyperbole represents a very dark side of human nature . Being the most prevalent of [banner_entry_middle]
the mock epics , this poem employs all the devices of the standard epic in attaining a comic effect
The key to understanding the passage , What wonder then , fair nymph thy hairs should feel , The conquering force of unresisted steel ‘ lies in understanding the events and the context in which the line was used by Alexander Pope . In this part , as Belinda loses , the Baron reaches over and commits the deed , What wonder then , fair nymph ! thy hairs should feel The conq ‘ring force of unresisted steel (ll . 177-8 . Here Pope literally means steel cutting hair but this also contains an undeniable double entendre that connotes forbidden sex and actual loss of virginity . Later , Belinda cries , Oh hadst thou , cruel ! been content to seize Hairs less in sight , or any hairs but these (Canto 4 ll .175-6 . Belinda is virtually admitting that she would rather have had sex with him than for him to steal the visible sign of her innocence
This is the final irony : the superficial identity that society has constructed for her , so visible in those locks of hair , has been compromised and this is all that matters to her : the appearance of being virtuous as to be accepted in society . This is why the rape of the lock to their society is even more heinous than an actual rape and this is what Pope is criticizing : that a set of people could have a code of behavior so strict and only practice it on the outside of their lives is completely antithetical to his moral point of view . In other words , if they care more about the outside than the inside , the inside is not worth anything , and they have no identity
The strategy of Pope ‘s mock-epic is not to mock the form itself , but to mock his society in its very failure to rise to epic standards , exposing its pettiness by casting it against the grandeur of the traditional epic subjects and the bravery and fortitude of epic heroes : Pope ‘s mock-heroic treatment in The Rape of the Lock underscores the ridiculousness of a society in which values have lost all proportion and the trivial is handled with the gravity and solemnity that ought to be accorded to truly important issues
It seems that the comic veil Pope used successfully conveyed his assessment of the supercilious temper of his society . The inclusion of both sexes validates Pope ‘s work . The poet was not… [banner_entry_footer]
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