British Poetry And Drama Unit 4 Neoclassical/Augustan Mock Epic

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British Poetry And Drama Unit 4 Neoclassical/Augustan Mock Epic

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14. In “The Rape of the Lock,” by Alexander Pope, what are the elaborate descriptions of weap-ons and battle? 

Ans: Lord Caryll, a prominent Catholic friend of Alexander Pope’s, asked the Pope to write a light poem about an actual incident that occurred within their circle of friends. The incident involved Lord Petre cutting off a lock of Arabella Femor’s hair. As a result of this “tragedy,” Lord Petre’s and Femor’s families began to dislike one another. In an attempt to reconcile the two families, Lord Caryll asked Pope to point out how ridiculous it was to feud over such a petty incident. Pope agreed to write the poem and the mock-epic poem, “The Rape of the Lock,” was born. 

In my opinion, the battle satirised in the poem is not a physical battle, but rather a battle of the sexes between Belinda and Baron. The weapons used by Belinda are the vanity and beauty of an 18th Century socialite and the weapons used by Baron are the pride and cockiness of a young man wanting to make a conquest. The actual act of rape in the poem is not a sexual assault—it is the cutting of Belinda’s hair—but to Belinda, it signifies a great loss. But is she the loser in this battle ? 

In Canto I, look how Pope describes the way women start early in life knowing how to flirt with men : 

‘This these that early taint the Female Soul, 

Instruct the Eyes of young Coquettes to roll, 

Teach Infants Cheeks a bidden Blush to know, 

And little Hearts to flutter at a Beau. 

Belinda prepares with her encounter with Baron by spending endless time primping. Pope describes this false beauty as “awful” that puts on arms. She is getting ready for the duel : 

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms; 

The Fair each moment rises in her Charms, 

Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev’ry Grace, 

And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face; 

In Canto II, Pope further alludes to how Belinda is dressed. He draws a comparison between Belinda’s petticoat and shield—one that is strong and “silver bound” covering her entire body. This is in reference to Belinda going into her “battle” with Baron, still a virgin and wanting to protect her innocence. 

We trust the’ important Charge, the Petticoat. 

Of have we known that sevenfold Fence to fail; 

Tho’ stiff with Hoops, and arm’d with Ribs of Whale. 

Form a strong Line about the Silver Bound, 

And guard the wide Circumference around. 

While Baron waits for Belinda, he is also prepping. He has earlier declared that he will have a lock of her hair, regardless of whether or not she gives it to him willingly. The game of cat and mouse begins. He rises early to perform an elaborate set of prayers and sacrifices to promote success in stealing the lock. Soon after Belinda arrives at the party, a card game ensues. The game, Ombre, is one of tactics and trickery, a symbol itself to the war that is about to commence. On his third try, Baron is successful at cutting off a lock of Belinda’s hair. She is furious as she and her friends scuffle to retrieve Baron’s conquest. She cries (in Canto IV) : 

Restore the Lock! she cries; and all around 

Restore the Lock! the vaulted Roofs rebound. 

Not fierce Othello in so loud a Strain 

Roar’d for the Handkerchief that caused his Pain. 

But see how often Ambitious Aims are crossed, 

And Chiefs contend ’till all the Prize is lost ! 

It appears as if she has lost the fortunes of battle. Her prize is lost. But has Baron won? In the end, Pope alludes to the hair being lost to the heavens, not necessarily by Belinda. Pope concludes the poem by asking the reader to question who the winner is. 

15. What is the supernatural machinery in “The Rape of the Lock”? “The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander Pope? 

Ans: As in the Iliad, the supernatural has a part to play in this mock-epic poem. In the Iliad,it is gods and goddesses who interact with and help their favourites, such as Achilles. In The Rape of the Lock, Belinda is watched over not by a god or goddess but by a guardian spirit, Ariel, who tries to warn her of coming danger and who appoints a host of sylphs to protect her. Later, Umbriel takes over from Mel, but neither spirit is able to save her from losing a lock of her hair. 

Having worried spirits trying to protect Belinda from the fate of having a lock of her hair cut by an admirer highlights how silly Belinda’s “plight” is. The truly heroic warriors of ancient Greece and Troy needed divine protection and guidance, as their lives were at stake, but Belinda was not going to die or even suffer any pain or permanent damage from losing some hair. She hardly needs to be hovered over by sylphs and worried spirits. 

16. What does Alexander Pope’s satire “The Rape of Lock” demonstrate about gender politics in eighteenth-century Britain? 

Ans: Women don’t come across particularly well in “The Rape of the Lock.” The main female character, Belinda, is a vain, shallow individual, a social butterfly whose meaningless existence revolves around looking pretty and being admired. 

Then again, the men in the poem aren’t exactly portrayed in a flattering light, either. It’s their objectification of women, as symbolised by the titular lock of hair that causes all the trouble. If they didn’t attach so much importance to female beauty then Belinda wouldn’t feel the need to be adored and so there wouldn’t be such an almighty kerfuffle once the Baron cuts off a lock of her hair. Female vanity may have set the whole farce in motion, but such vanity is a response to the demands of male society and the impossible ideals of female beauty that men have constructed. 

17. Why is Alexander Pope’s use of grand and elevated language in “The Rape of the Lock” important? 

Ans: Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” is a mock-epic, which means it is written to be funny. Humour works by using overstatement, surprise, and exaggeration: We as readers are so startled by the over-the-top outrageousness presented that we laugh. 

Pope needs to use the grandest and most elevated language possible as a contrast to the petty nature of his subject, which is the fact that the Baron has caused massive outrage by cutting a lock of his beloved Belinda’s hair off without her permission. We might call this situation the original “First World” problem. Just as today a writer on a sitcom might raise laughs by using exaggerated language to equate a character breaking a fin-gernail with a geopolitical crisis, so does Pope with the hair cutting. 

Pope uses a crisis in the Ancient world as his contrast to Belinda’s shorn lock : the Trojan war. Pope imitates the poet Homer’s heightened language in writing about this war in his.epic, the Iliad. While Homer uses emotive language to write about what really was a serious and tragic affair, Pope hijacks that language to describe a completely trivial event in which nobody really suffered. What can anyone do but laugh and think how silly it is to get so upset over a lock of hair when the exaggerated language used to describe it is that of gods, epic battles, rapes, enslavements, and truly tragic deaths, including Hector’s infant son being thrown off a parapet ? Pope wanted people to realise how ridiculous this hair cutting was—which, in real life, caused a feud between two wealthy Catholic families in England—and the slippage between the language he used and the event helped him to be successful. 

18. In “An Essay on Criticism,” Alexander Pope defines the use of wit, stating that a poet should use plain language and restrict the use of metaphor. Discuss why Pope does not apply this definition of this definition of wit to “The Rape of the Lock.” 

Ans: In Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” the “rules,” as he describes them in “An Essay on Criticism,” would not apply at all because “The Rape of the Lock” is not serious, but lightly satirical and humorous; the brilliance of the piece comes directly from Pope’s choice regarding how to handle a strong disagreement between two families because a young man stole a lock of a young woman’s hair. Plain language is used to convey ideas in a serious manner. People feuding over a snip of hair is ridiculous, and the topic begs for a playful hand, so much more in keeping with satire than plain language, and Pope provides this. 

While the use of heroic-couplets is a serious and worthwhile tool of the poet, Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” uses something different. The word “mock,” of course, sheds light upon Pope’s attitude in writing this piece. 

Modern critics consider The Rape of the Lock to be the supreme example of mock-heroic verse in the English language. 

Although the two parties involved took the situation very seriously, Pope was encouraged to write the piece to restore goodwill between both families; he decided he would point out the silliness of the argument in a gentle way and have some fun with it. The blending of “heroic” and “comedy” allows the true nature of Pope’s intent to shine through from the start. And structuring it as a great epic— comparing the simple act of snipping a lock of hair to the great epics of the past—allows one to gauge the true severity—or lack thereof—of this insignificant act. 

The poem was intended to restore harmonious relations between the estranged families. Subtitled “an heroi-comical poem,” The Rape of the Lock treats the petty matter in full-blown epic style, which results in a great deal of humor. 

While Alexander Pope’s intent in using wit by employing plain language would create a more serious note in a written piece— especially where metaphors were not employed (therefore the writing would stand on its own merit without the artistry that metaphors allow)—the intent and subject of “The Rape of the Lock” could not possibly be written in plain language without sacrificing the satirical tone of the writing. 

19. Would you consider Alexander Pope a misogynist after reading The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: To make the claim that Alexander Pope was a misogynist based on The Rape of the Lock might not be unfounded, but you would have to take several things into consideration. First, during Pope’s day, women had no rights. Feminism was a far-off idea. The Pope’s attitude toward women would have been considered within the norm. What Pope really detested was not so much women, though there was that undercurrent in his writing, but the pretensions of the idle rich. Pope was Catholic, which meant that he was at a disadvantage in England, both socially and financially. “The Rape of the Lock” really reflects his attitude toward upper-class young people more than just women, though he is rather unkind in his depiction of Belinda’s mental acuity. She is not a deep thinker. Pope was, after all, a satirist. If you look at his other work, particularly “The Dunciad,” you can get a better idea of how he felt about people generally. Moreover, ROTL is meant to be a mock-epic; it makes fun of the epic genre by using lofty words to tell a silly story, poking fun at both men and women. 

20. In what way is “The Rape of The Lock” by Alexander Pope a satire in epic form?  

Ans: “The Rape of the Lock” is considered to be perhaps the best mock-heroic poem in English literature because of Pope’s incredible ability to incorporate themes, language and characters from Classical Greek epics in a poem about a lock of hair. 

Pope was asked by a friend to try to reconcile two groups of Catholic aristocrats who had gone to war with each other over the taking by Lord Pete of a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair–by snipping it off with scissors during a party. Pope decided that the best way to defuse the situation was to use the “high style” of the epic, with all its conventions, to show the antagonists how ridiculous the argument was. 

The poem begins, as epics should, in medias res, that is, in the middle of things (after the cause of the problem has occurred), using the epic convention of formal vocabulary and diction: “What dire Offence from am’rous Causes springs,/What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things.” This establishes the epic nature of the dispute, but also puts the tongue in cheek because the readers know the “back-story.” 

The protagonist of the poem, Belinda (Arabella Fermor), like all epic protagonists, is protected by supernatural beings, the Sylphs, who “Oft when the World imagine Women stray,/The Sylphs thro’ Mystick Mazes guide their Way,” and not only are the Sylphs there to guide Belinda through this difficult time, but when Lord Petre is about to snip the lock of Belinda’s hair, one of the Sylphs interposes herself and is cut in half. We are not playing games here–very serious business. 

With the use of the epic to describe the war over a lock of hair, Pope effectively flips the epic on its side : instead of the hero being a proud warrior, wise,.generous, brave, a good leader, the hero of “The Rape” is a rather shallow, self-absorbed woman who, as we later learn, does not see much difference in scale between the death of husbands or lap dogs. And rather than the object of the war being the destruction of a major city or culture and the establishment of another, the object here is a lock of hair. The combat, instead of taking • place on a battle ground involving thousands of warriors, takes place at a card table, and the battle itself 41 is Ombre, a game of cards. The tools of this battle, consistent with its original cause, are snide comments, dirty looks, and a pinch of snuff Belinda blows into Lord Petre’s face, causing him to sneeze. Each of these elements is described as if we were reading The Aeneid or The Iliad, two classical epics Pope was very familiar with, having translated both The Odyssey and The Iliad. 

The poem has its desired effect by disarming the two camps of aristocrats and ultimately enjoyed a wide audience and became the model of a mock-epic satire in English but never quite duplicated. 

21. What is the role of fate in “The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander Pope? 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock, a mock-epic modeled on the Iliad, shares with its model the importance of fate. In the Iliad, fate or what has been predetermined, is more important that even the will of the gods. In The Rape of the Lock, humans are described as “blind” (III, 101) to fate, which in the end, as in the Iliad, decides what happens to us. We also learn in Canto III that “fate urged the shears”. (1.151) that cut the lock and later, in Canto V, “Fate and Jove,” (1.2) prevent the Baron from returning the lock. Fate or “heaven,” (V, ) also decrees that the lock has great value (1.111-12). Thus we see that fate blinds Belinda to what will occur, determines that the lock will be cut, prevents the return of the lock and guarantees its worth. Human agency is diminished : events must unfold as they do. This poem, based on a real incident in which Lord Petre took a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair, is poking fun at the triviality of the event: yes, it was “fated” to happen, and now, perhaps, the main players should get over it. 

22. How does “The Rape of the Lock” reflect 18th century society? 

Ans: In once sense, the answer to this question is fairly straightforward : Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1714), which he subtitled “An Heroi-Comical Poem in Five Canto’s”—that is, a mock epic—was written at the request of his friend John Caryll to defuse what had become a serious dispute between two upper-class families caused by the cutting of a lock of a young woman’s hair by a minor aristocrat who might or might not have been interested in•marrying her. The fight between the families was complicated by their religion. Because they were Catholics in a predominantly Protestant country, and the Pope was also Catholic, there were concerns that this frivolous dispute would cast another shadow on Catholics, especially because the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 was brewing in Scotland to dethrone the Protestant king, George III. Pope, who is considered one of the greatest satirists of the eighteenth century—biting satire his specialty—could not forego the chance to not only defuse the dispute between the Fermors and Lord Petre but also to hold a mirror up to what he viewed as the frivolousness of the upper classes. 

Pope begins the mock-epic with an epic’s traditional opening : 

What dire Offence from am’rous Causes springs, 

What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things, 

I sing — This Verse to C , 3 Muse! is due; 

This, ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view : 

Slight is the Subject, but not so the Praise, 

If She inspires, and He approves of my Lays. 

As with all epics, the poem begins in medias res, in the middle of things, but unlike conventional epics, Pope immediately characterises the subject as “trivial Things” rather than, for example, what we read at the beginning of Virgil’s Aeneid—”I sing of arms and of a man.” In addition to labelling the subject trivial, Pope confirms that “Slight is the Subject,” leaving no doubt as to his purpose, which is to help quell the fight between two families and to point out the greater follies of a society that thinks a lock of hair is worth going to war over (figuratively speaking). 

Pope elevates the cause of this dispute to epic status when he describes Arabella Fermor’s hair : 

This Nymph, to the Destruction of Mankind, 

Nourish’d two Locks, which graceful hung be hind 

In equal Curls, and well conspire to deck 

With shining Ringlets her smooth Ivory Neck. 

Love in these Labyrinths his Slaves detains, 

And mighty Hearts are held in slender Chains. 

Whereas in Homer’s Iliad the epic’s subject is what follows the “wrath of Achilles,” we have the cause of another epic battle: locks of hair. Pope’s readers, most of whom would have been very familiar with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, both of which were translated into English by Pope shortly after the composition of this mock-epic, were undoubtedly pleasantly surprised by Pope’s use of the epic genre to depict such a frivolous waste of time and effort as the Fermor-Petre dispute, which shows the upper classes to be consumed by self-indulgence. 

Perhaps the most damning indictment of upper-class shallowness comes with Pope’s description of Arabella Fermor’s immediate reaction to Lord Petre’s act of “rape”:

Then flash’d the living Lightnings from her Eyes, 

And Screams of Horror rend th’ affrighted Skies. 

Not louder Shrieks to pitying Heav’n are cast, 

When Husbands or when Lap-dogs breath their last, 

Or when rich China Vessels, fallen from high, 

In glittering Dust and painted Fragments lie ! 

Miss Fermor’s cries of outrage are equal to the shrieks of women losing husbands or lap-dogs, a juxtaposition that is both funny and damning at the same time. To say that the upper class depicted here lack perspective is an understatement, and the comparison is a masterful stroke on Pope’s part because it places the upper-class worldview on display as not just out of touch with reality but oblivious to the proper concern of mankind, which, according to Pope, is man. 

23. Comment on Pope’s use of satire in the poem The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: Pope was very much the poet of society—eighteenth-century English high society, to be exact. In writing The Rape of the Lock, he knew that the characters satirized in the poem would instantly be recognized by his upper-class readership, making his satire all the more effective. The main focus of Pope’s withering gaze is the fashionable set, the beautiful people of Georgian England whose empty lives of ease and frivolity make for an ideal target of ridicule. 

And it is the key figure of Belinda that most accurately reflects the values and attitudes of this entitled crowd. She is an extraordinarily vain and shallow young lady, obsessed with beauty—hence her horror at the removal of her lock of hair; she is a preening narcissist who worships herself as devoutly as everyone else does. Her flippant attitude towards religion is indicative of the deep spiritual malaise that infects the upper classes. She ostentatiously keeps a copy of the Bible on her dressing table along with all her powders, creams, and hair-brushes. It’s as if Belinda treats the word of God as just another fashion accessory, a means of showing off to people how devout she is. But placing a Bible next to a pile of love letters indicates just how shallow this attachment to religion really is. 

But it’s not just ladies of quality who get it in the neck from the Pope; the so-called gentlemen are not exactly portrayed in a flattering light either. Men such as the Baron go weak at the knees in the presence of beauty. Yet there is nothing remotely transcendent or spiritual about such beauty; it is mere worldly beauty, beauty that will one day fade away completely. But as the fashionable rakes in this utterly vacuous social circle have no real spiritual depth, they remain hopelessly captivated by what is fleeting, and Belinda’s physical beauty is no exception. 

On a more sinister level, this obsession with good looks and a well-turned ankle masks a profound contempt for women. Men in this society regard the female of the species as little more than playthings, to be taken up, used, and then discarded when they’ve served their purpose. As social connections between men and women in this environment are based on such shallow foundations, it’s not surprising that relationships don’t last. This is a world in which boredom sets in all too easily. Shamelessly flitting from one vain debutante to another provides a means for the young blades to stave off ennui for at least a short period of time. 

In The Rape of the Lock, Pope presents us with a pretty withering portrait of aristocratic society in eighteenth-century England. At the same time, its satirical force is somewhat undercut by its audience consisting of the very same kind of people held up to well-deserved ridicule in the poem. The abiding impression one receives is that Pope is not trying to effect a significant change in social attitudes but rather gently urging his readership to examine its myriad foibles and shortcomings just a little more closely. 

24. Consider Alexander Pope as a Satirist. 

Ans: Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was one of the most prolific writers in the early eighteenth-century. In addition to several major poems; -Essay on Man, Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, Windsor Forest–Pope translated Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey into English. He is considered among the greatest satirists in English literature, and his two great satires, The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad, are considered the best in the eighteenth century and illustrate his skills admirably. 

The Rape of the Lock (1712, 1714) is widely-considered the best mock-heroic (mock-epic) poem in all of English literature. Pope took as his subject an actual affair in which Lord Petre snipped off a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor’s hair, which caused such a dispute within a small niche of upper-class English society, that Pope created was able to convert a completely inconsequential occurrence into an epic. 

Pope satire succeeds because he demonstrates the gulph between the foolishness of the “rape” of hair and the very real consternation it caused in the upper-class participants and, in the end, the readers are forced to conclude, while laughing, that both the incident itself and the people involved are absurd. 

Another of Pope’s mock-heroic poems, The Dunciad (1728), unlike The Rape, takes a much more serious subject as the target of satire: Pope’s intent is to attack unskilled writers whose writing he feels poses a threat to true literature and the integrity of education. The poem particularly focuses its satire on the intellectual descendants of a well-known mediaeval philosopher named Duns Scotus, who engaged in minute, tortuous interpretation of texts that impressed many listeners but failed to truly enlighten or educate. 

Unfortunately, at the end of The Dunciad, the character Dulness reigns supreme and “universal darkness covers all.” 

25. What is the background behind Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” Canto 1? 

Ans: Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” was published in 1712 in two cantos and enlarged to five cantos in 1714. This, the greatest mock-epic poem in English, takes as its model Boileau’s Lutrin (1674-83). Boileau set the.standard for taking a trivial event. with characters who represent relatively unimportant people, and elevating the event and characters to the level of the epic poem. 

The poem’s subject is a quarrel between two wealthy families over a lock of hair. In 1711, a young nobleman named Robert, Lord Petre, who was 21 at the time of the incident, cut a lock of hair from one of the most celebrated young women in London society, Arabella Fermor. It’S possible that Lord Petre was seriously thinking of marrying Miss Fermor, but we have no concrete evidence for that, just rumours. In any case, rather than laughing off the incident, the Fermor family decided that Lord Petre had given them an unforgivable affront, and the relationship between the two families, which had been good, deteriorated. The quarrel, because the Fermor family took the matter so seriously, began to be an embarrassment for both families, but neither family was willing to back down. 

Because the two families were prominent Catholic families, in a country of Protestants, several leading Catholics, including Pope’s friend, John CAryll (a distant relative of Lord Petre), asked Pope, who was also a Catholic, to try to defuse the situation in such as way as to get the families to realize how ridiculous it was to destroy their relations over such an incident, and The Rape of the Lock, which created a mock-heroic frame-work for the event, elevated the quarrel to a level that even the families involved had to admit was ridiculous. 

Copies of the poem in manuscript went to both families, and the families, once they saw the incredibly clever satire of the “rape of the lock,” came to their senses, and the bad feeling dissolved into laughter. Although the poem was originally meant to circulate in manuscript, Pope eventually could not refrain from publishing it–using as the excuse that the poem would ultimately be printed and that it would be better for him to control the printing in order to make sure the poem was printed correctly. 

26. Analyze this line from Alexander Pope’s Rape of The Lock : “Oft when the world imagine Women stray,/ The Sylphs thro’ mystick Mazes guide theie way.” 

Ans: The Rape of The Lock by Alexander Pope exposes the fickle nature of society. Pope intends to show how minor occurrences pervade our existence as if they were major catastrophes. Mel, a sylph, which is a “bright inhabitant(s) of air” guards Belinda’s beauty and feeds her vane nature and has tried to warn Belinda in her dream to be aware that “mighty contests rise from trivial things” and jealousy, pride and, certainly, men who may “assault a gentle belle,” could reveal a “mighty rage.” 

Line 90, “Oft when the world imagine…” reveals how the “world” .sees women are frivolous as “gay ideas crowd the vacant brain” and beauty and its “strange motive” is seemingly so important. Sylphs act as guides to women who are faced with many suitors and must make choices; the sylphs being the ones who actually “contrive it all.” The sylphs “through mystic mazes guide their way,” protect the women from men’s inappropriate advances as they are unable to do so themselves because of their preoccupation with trivial things. 

27. Explain how Pope’s The Rape of the Lock does not fit the Juvenalian mode of satire. 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is an example of a genre of poetry known as “mock-epic.” This genre follows many of the conventions of the heroic epic to the effect of satirising both the generic expectations and conventions as well as the subject matter. 

Juvenal was a second-century AD Roman poet whose satires—which were relatively short poems—criticized the vices of upper-class Romans. This style varies from Pope’s style in The Rape of the Lock in a couple of ways. First, Juvenalian poems were lyric, rather than epic, and therefore did not parody the poetic genre of the epic. Second, these poems’ tone was passionate, vehement, and bitter—directly and savagely attacking moral failings. 

By contrast, Pope’s satire is lighthearted and indulgent. Although he mocks the foibles of the upper classes, it is much gentler and much more sympathetic, and the poem has a happy ending. Many of his characters are portrayed as somewhat silly, but the criticism is mild; their vices are not deep moral failings, which were the target of Juvenal’s satire. Instead, Pope targets the mi-nor follies that are associated with people who have too much money and free time. 

To illustrate this difference, the villains of Juvenalian satire would commit actual rape rather than trying to steal a small amount of hair. 

28. The part Belinda plays in the social drama of The Rape of the Lock (Alexander Pope) is at once despicable and endearing. Discuss. 

Ans: Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock is a mock-epic which illustrates the importance of reason. Belinda’s character illustrates the vanity of women, depicted through Belinda’s obsession with her hair. 

For some readers, Belinda may be seen as a des-picable character. Ignoring very good advice from Mel, Belinda gets ready for an outing by spending much time on her hair and makeup. Belinda is depicted as a “heav’nly image.” Refusing to pay attention to the warnings about men, jealousy, and vanity, Belinda does everything she can possibly do to make herself perfect. She seems far too concerned with her physical appearance. This is all compounded with Belinda’s reaction to Lord Petre snip-ping off one of her curls. This attack on Petre only proves Belinda’s vanity even more. 

Other readers may find Belinda endearing. The fact that Ariel and sylphs are on the outing to protect Belinda from any harm (including the loss of her virginity), readers can picture Belinda as being something worth saving. Here, her “person” is not important; instead, it is her morality and virginity which are in need of protection. Since this seems to be something of the past (for modern readers), the maintaining of Belinda’s purity can be seen as endearing. 

29. What is the meaning of lines 1-10 of Pope’s The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is a mock-epic poem, composed and published anonymously in 1712 and revised and republished under Pope’s own name in 1714. A third version was published in 1717. It is based on an actual incident in which Lord Petre (the Baron in the poem) cut off a lock of Arabella Fermor’s (Belinda in the poem) hair. 

The poem as a whole, including the first 10 lines, is written in heroic couplets, i.e. iambic pentameter lines rhymed AA BB CC, etc. the metrical and rhyme scheme are both fairly regular, with limited use of substitutions and elision. 

As a mock epic, .The Rape a the Lock follows many epic conventions but in a humorous manner. The first six couplets or 12 lines take the form of an invocation to the Muses, which was the typical opening of actual ancient epic such as that of Virgil or Homer. The poet sets out the themes of the story, the motives of the Baron in stealing the lock and Belinda in rejecting the Baron’s attempts to seduce her, and asks the Muse for help in searching for answers. The opening two lines, which emphasise the triviality of the subject, cue the reader from the start that this is a mock, not serious,epic on the theme of love 

What dire Offence from am’rous Causes springs, 

What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things … 

As you work on your assignment, you should emphasise the elements of humour and satire in the lines, showing how they make fun of both the triviality of the aristocrats portrayed and the pomposity of much epic writing. 

30. What are the poetic achievements of Alexander Pope? 

Ans: Pope extended and perfected the poetic tech-nique of his great predecessor John Dryden. Ever since the Restoration in 1660, English poetry had taken a direction in which there was an increasing attempt to recreate the ideals and the aesthetic orientation of the Greek and Roman poets of antiquity. The heroic couplet—rhymed iambic pentameter—became standard. Elegance, grace, and the classical ideals of balance and emotional restraint were present in Dryden’s work, as well as the use of satire as the most important and characteristic genre. Pope’s achievement was to create not so much what was new or original as the best poetry that conformed to this modern recreation of the poetic achievements of antiquity—especially of the period when Emperor Augustus was in power (27 BC–AD 14). , Pope’s era is thus often called the Augustan age of English poetry 

Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad are among the most important examples of satire in English poetry. But Pope excelled as well in writing didactic works, the best-known of which are his An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man. The former is an expression of Pope’s (and his time’s) aesthetic ideals; the latter is a philosophical work, a kind of poetic incarnation of the philosophy of Leibniz and others who promoted an optimistic (and later much ridiculed) picture of man’s limited and imperfect position in the universe. Pope also translated Homer into English, and for many, his versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey represented his central achievement. 

Though their philosophy was one of acceptance of imperfection in the cosmos, Pope and his generation believed that English poetry itself had reached a high point of perfection in their time. Pope “re-versified” some of the works of Donne in a smoother, more elegant style and even considered doing the same with Milton’s Paradise Lost. And the essence of Pope’s achievement lies in the beauty of his poetic language within the context of this replication in English of the style and the concerns of Augustus’s era. For Pope, the primary model was Horace, while for Pope’s friend and contempOrary Jonathan Swift, the model was Juvenal. 

By only a few decades after Pope’s death in 1744, tastes had already begun to change, with a more sentimental and even openly emotional ideal of literature representing the very beginnings of Romanticism. In his Life of Pope, Samuel Johnson reiterated the view of those who had not been swayed by this change in aesthetic values, saying that Pope’s work is the essence of the poetic. 

31. Explain the following couplet Alexander Pope’s “Rape of the Lock ?” Part I : This to disclose is all thy Guardian can.Beware of all, but most beware of Man ! Please identify the meaning of and references in the couplet. 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock is a mock-epic piece. It aims to put a light hearted spin on the early epic classics from the likes of Homer. Pope sets the stage of a dreaming girl. Belinda, who is guided and protected by spirits. Her guardian spirit, Ariel, sends her a dream of a handsome youth and discloses her protection by the army of spirits. Belinda embodies the superficial and frivolous Ways of young women and is fancied by young men. Pope explains in the first canto that it’s not a young woman’s fault if she is vain and frivolous the sprites make her this way. The spirits do encourage young ladies to be proud and resist the offers of men. Towards the end of the first section, Ariel tells Belinda “This to disclose is all thy guardian can. Beware of all, but most beware of man!” He’s letting her know that something dreadful will soon happen, but he knows not the details of what, when, and where. He simply warns Belinda to be on the lookout. 

Pope makes it pretty clear that young women like Belinda are not guided by a strict moral code, but more by an obsession with worldly things and status. However, he also wants the reader to know that these young women are trained to think and behave this way. Belinda is intrigued by things and men, and although she’s directly warned by Ariel to beware of men (perhaps a potential suitor or someone wishing to do her wrong we don’t know at this point) she wakes from her dream and seems to forget about the warning right away. 

32. What is the significance of Hampton Court as a setting in Canto 3 of The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: In Alexander Pope’s eighteenth-century mock-epic, The Rape of the Lock, the main character, Belinda, arrives by boat at an extravagant party held at Hampton Court Palace. Pope writes at the beginning of the third canto : 

Close by those Meads for ever crown’d with Flow’rs, 

Where Thames with Pride surveys his rising Tow’rs, 

There stands a Structure of Majestic Frame, 

Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its Name. 

Here Britain’s Statesmen of the Fall foredoom 

Of Foreign ‘!”rants, and of Nymphs at home; 

Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey, 

Dost sometimes Counsel take — and sometimes Tea (Pope, 3.1-8) 

Pope makes several important references to both historical places and figures within these lines, so it is worth taking the time to unpack them. In the above excerpt, Pope is speaking of Hampton Court Palace, an English palace resting near the banks of the Thames River in London. As Pope mentions, Hampton Court Palace is a setting in which political activity regularly occurs. Politicians (as signified by “Britain’s statesmen ”) routinely discuss matters of law in the palace, and the monarch, Queen Anne (referred to as “great Anna”), receives both counsel and tea. We can infer that Queen Anne’s power as a ruler is somewhat limited by the fact that members of Parliament are the figures in the poem concerning themselves most with political activity; that is, the statesmen occupy themselves with worrying over the state of Britain and the pressures of international affairs while Queen Anne takes tea (a decidedly relaxed activity) or receives counsel, presumably from both advisors and statesmen. We notice, additionally, that Queen Anne rules over “three Realms” in the excerpt, and these refer to England, Scotland, and Ireland. Understanding the political and historical context of Hampton Court Palace allows it to become far more impressive as a setting. Furthermore, based on the setting, we can safely assume that all pet sons in attendance at the party will be of a higher social class and accus-tomed to rather privileged lifestyles. 

33. How helpful to Alexander Pope was the use of the epic framework in producing social criticism in The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: Using the epic framework in his poem The Rape of the Lock was a logical choice for Alexander Pope. He was quite familiar with the conventions of epic and the tropes involved since he had translated both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Epic poetry is full of scenes of glorious battle, the honour of war, and the intervention of the supernatural in the affairs of humans. It must have made it easy for the Pope to apply these devices to a story about a trivial event raised to the level of a monumental happening in the lives of two wealthy families. The story of Belinda, aka Arabella Fermor, and her “raped” lock of hair and the subsequent scandal that ensued, translated well to the epic formula. By juxtaposing the triviality of the situation with the grandeur of epic themes, Pope was able to satirize the silliness of the “idle rich.” 

34. Describe “The Rape of the Lock” as a mock epic. 

Ans : Pope wrote this mock-epic poem at the request of his friend John Caryll to help heal a rift between two prominent Catholic families. In real life, Lord Petre had taken a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair without her permission, causing a quarrel that blew out of proportion. 

The poem is a mock epic because it uses the epic form, a genre meant for serious subjects, such as the Trojan war in Homer’s Iliad, and applies it to such a trivial issue as the loss of a lock of hair. The humour comes in the grandiose and overblown way this hair theft is described, complete with lamentations, exclamations, and the lock of hair ascending to the moon at the end of the poem. Pope populated his mock-epic world with sylphs and made as much of Belinda’s petticoat as Homer did of Achilles’s shield. 

Pope wanted to use humour to heal an argument but also to show that the aristocrats and leaders of his day lacked the heroism of figures from classical literature. By poking gentle fun at them, he hoped to inspire them to worry about more important subjects than card-playing, hair, and flirtations. 

35. What does Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” reveal about 17th century England? 

Ans: First of all, it is important to acknowledge that “The Rape of the Lock” was actually written in the early eighteenth century. Secondly, we need to remember that the poem was written for a specific audience. Pope intended his mock heroic epic to be read by the wealthy upper classes, the creme de la creme of English society. He wanted his target audience to read the poem and recognize themselves and the people they knew. 

Pope holds up a mirror to the English aristocracy and lets them take a good, hard look at themselves and how they behave. What they should see in the reflection is far from flattering, to say the least. The upper classes in “The Rape of the Lock” are presented as shallow, vain, idle, and obsessed with trivia. In the character of Belinda—based on a real lady of quality by the name of Arabella Fermor—we have an unforgettable portrait of vanity and superficiality. Belinda’s Bible, sitting uncomfortably on her crowded dressing table, along with all her potions, powders, and beauty creams, is a striking symbol of a society in which religion is all just for show; what really matters is personal appearance and what other people think about you. 

36. Critically evaluate the toilet scene of Belinda in The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: At the end of Canto One of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Belinda is described as getting herself ready to go out on an excursion with her friends. The text provides very specific details regarding what Belinda is doing. 

The Tortoise here and Elephant unite, 

Transform’d to Combs, the speckled and the white. 

Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows, 

Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux. 

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms; . 

The Fair each moment rises in her Charms, 

Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev’ry Grace, 

And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face; 

Sees by Degrees a purer Blush arise, 

And keener Lightnings quicken in her Eyes. 

The busy Sylphs surround their darling Care; 

These set the Head, and those divide the Hair, 

Some fold the Sleeve, while others plait the Gown; 

And Betty’s praised for Labours not her own. 

Evaluating this excerpt of the text requires one to recognize a woman’s vanity. Here, Belinda is doing everything she possibly can to ensure that her beauty is luminated. Her use of powder shows that her face contains flaws which she feels compelled to cover. Her use of the Bibles show that she is using prayer to pray that what she does will “work” in order to enhance her beauty. 

Belinda is not alone though. She has servants around her who help her to get ready. This shows her wealth. Normal women of this time would not have had servants to help them get ready. 

Therefore, the toilet scene is used to show the vanity associated with women. The end of the cantos function very well in detailing the lengths one will go to in order to insure that they are beautiful. 

37. In “The Rape of the Lock,” is this an example of a heroic couplet ? “Nourished two locks which graceful hung behind.” 

Ans: Alexander Pope, the author of this hilarious mock-epic, was renowned for his use of heroic couplets in his work. These are called heroic couplets because both Pope and his literary predecessor John Dryden used this form in their translations of epic poems such as The Iliad and The Odyssey. Each heroic couplet consists of two rhymed lines of iambic pentameter, which means each line has 5 feet, 10 syllables, and a regular “de-dum” rhythm. Pope did vary this though. Couplets are “closed” when they express a thought in a complete sentence. 

Having reminded ourselves of the definition of a heroic couplet, we can see that you have provided us with one half of a heroic couplet. It has 5 feet, 10 syllables and a clear rhythm. However, we obviously can’t see if it rhymes or not because we need the line that goes with it. Hope this helps you in your further analysis of the heroic couplets of the Pope ! Good luck ! 

38. What is the background story of “The Rape of the Lock”? 

Ans: The background to “The Rape of the Lock” is a trifling dispute between two families of English Catho-: lie aristocrats over the unauthorized cutting—the “rape” of the title—of a lock of hair. The lock in question belonged to a society lady called Arabella Fermor, whose suitor, Lord Petre, was responsible for carrying out the infamous deed. This generated a minor scandal at the time, though Pope clearly found it a source of considerable amusement, not to mention poetic inspiration. 

As much as anything else, “The Rape of the Lock” is a satire on English upper-class society and how it is so self-regarding that it makes mountains out of the most trifling of molehills. This grotesque exaggeration of a trivial event lends itself to Pope’s mock-heroic treatment. For Pope to deal with such a piffling affair in the style of Homer or Virgil allows the reader to see just how vain, shallow, and self-absorbed the English aristocracy could often be. They are presented by Pope’s unflattering portrait as so rich, privileged, and cut off from the outside world that they no longer have any sense of proportion, of what’s really important in life. 

39. Explain the following quote from Pope’s The Rape of the Lock : “But since, alas! frail beauty must decay / Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to grey.” 

Ans: Pope wrote this poem in an attempt to defuse a real-life quarrel that had erupted between two Catholic families. Lord Petre had taken a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair without her permission. The quarrel blew up, out of all proportion to the act.

Pope, therefore, mocks everyone’s overreaction in his poem. He models his poem on the Iliad, pretending this lock-snatching really is an act of epic proportions (when it is clearly not). In this way, he compares upper-class British society unfavourably to the Greeks, implying that the English are caught up in weak, trivial affairs, playing cards and going to parties rather than fighting real battles. 

When Pope writes that, after all, beauty decays and locks turn to grey, he is trying to persuade his readers to put this whole episode into perspective. After all, what is a lock of hair ? Is it not merely a temporal item that will soon enough fade away ? Is it worth fighting over ? 

40. Tell me about the game of Ombre in The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: The game of Ombre is played in Canto llI of The Rape of the lock. This card game, which is similar to bridge, was played with three players in the 17th century, although it began in the 16th century as a game for four. In this game, a man, l’Hombre, plays against two rivals using a forty-card deck with players bidding to choose the trump suit; the objective is to win more tricks than the other players, with losers paying out money to their opponents. 

In this partic scene, Belinda plays against two men, and although she begins with strength, she is nearly beaten by her rivals, only recovering at the last minute. Despite this being a fairly disinteresting pastime, Pope chooses to depict the scene in lengthy detail, as if the game is a heroic act of war; in doing so, he offers a humorous critique of the superficiality of the upper class and how seriously they take their ridiculous pursuits. 

41. What moral lesson do you find in The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock is a wonderful poem, but different readers’are going to gravitate to certain sections more than others. Additionally, different read-ers are going to have different themes and moral mes-sages resonate in varying degrees. The “moral lesson” aspect of the question is very subjective. Pope may have had a specific moral lesson in mind; but not all readers are going to get that lesson. I’m often reminded of reality TV shows about the Kardashians or single bachelors dating when I read this poem. The emphasis that Belinda puts on her looks and the drama that follows over the loss of some hair is comical, yet it’s exactly what teenagers that I teach watch and even emulate. Personally, I see moral lessons about vanity and narcissism. I see the poem speaking out against those concepts, but I’ve had students that fully support Belinda’s essential objectification of herself. Her beautification project is even described as a form of worship. Notice the words “priestess” and “altar.” 

A heav’nly Image in the Glass appears, 

To that she bends, to that her Eyes she rears; 

Th’ inferior Priestess, at her Altar’s side, 

Trembling, begins the sacred Rites of Pride. 

Certain readers buy into the idea that Belinda’s beauty and behaviour give her control. That is the lesson they learn from the text. I can explain that I don’t think that was the poem’s intent, but that’s the thing about literature—it’s subjective. 

42. Give a brief note about eighteenth-century fashionable society in “The Rape of the Lock.” 

Ans: Pope critiques the vacuousness of upper-class eighteenth-century society by writing a mock epic that compares it unfavourably to the heroic culture of the Iliad. 

Rather than fighting a war to save their society, the upper class members of English society spend hours getting dressed, donning jewellery, and having their hair done so they can float down the Thames in boats to a card party. They are worried not about life and death, but about gossiping about each other and about who will win the card game. A lord cutting a lock of Belinda’s hair without her permission is likened to a “rape.” The following quote shows how inane and empty the lives of these aristocrats are : 

In various talk th’ instructive hours they past, 

Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last; 

One speaks the glory of the British Queen, 

And one describes a charming Indian screen 

The overheated language with which Belinda’s log lock is treated at the climax of the poem, as if it is a disaster of epic proportions, only underscores how ridiculous these people’s lives are Pope is hoping to wake privileged people up to be less concerned with petty matters and more with issues of genuine substance. 

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43. What does the title The Rape of the Lock refer to ? 

Ans: The Rape of the Lock is a “mock epic” or as Pope calls it in the subtitle, an “Heroi-Comical Poem in Five Cantos.” This poem was meant to poke fun at the aristocracy. This poem is a classic form of satire. (Pope wrote this at the request of his friend, John Caryll, who asked him to write something that two feuding families could laugh about together.) 

In the poem, loosely based on real people (Robert, Lord Petre and Arabella Fermor), Belinda (representing Fermor) wakes up and goes to a party, ignoring advice Ariel (a sylph or spirit) has given to her in a dream. She plays cards at a palace with the Baron (representing Lord Petre) and others. During the game, unable to resist the temptation, the Baron cuts off a lock of Belinda’s hair. Calling it the “rape” of the lock is an example of hyperbole (exaggeration). This goes along with the idea of this poem being a mock epic. It takes a very trivial event (cutting hair) and treats it like an epic event such as the adventure in The Odyssey : treating a haircut like it was the crime of the century. The idea of women cutting their hair was frowned upon in Pope’s time, but it would still be an exaggeration to call it rape. 

The poem uses a lot of tropes and devices particular to epics, but often in mocking ways: sprites/spirits, the suiting of armour (Belinda putting on makeup), games, and a banquet. What makes it even more exaggerated is the lofty speech and that the gods (sylphs and spirits) try to stop the rape/cutting. It is an exaggeration that the cutting of Belinda’s hair is so reprehensible as to require gods to intervene. As the Baron attempts to cut the hair, the sylphs try and stop him : 

The peer now spreads the glitt’ring forfex wide, 

T’ enclose the lock; now joins it, to divide. 

Ev’n then, before the fatal engine closed, 

A Ached Sylph too fondly interposed; 

Fate ured the shears, and cut the Sylph in twain 

(But airy substance soon unites again) 

The meeting points to the sacred hair dissever .

From the fair head, forever and forever! (Canto 3, 147-54)

44. Who is Martha Blount, in relation to Alexander Pope? I’ve found she was possibly a lover and a literary friend but I need more detailed explanations. Possibly in coordination with “The Rape of the Lock” 

Ans: Pope seems to have been alternately infatuated or sincerely in love with both of the Blount sisters, Theresa and Martha, for many years during his adult life, but it seems to be Martha who was ultimately Pope’s genuine love interest. 

The Blount sisters were, like Pope, Catholics, but unlike Pope, they lived under the scrutiny of their mother and brother. The fact that Pope was able to “court” them in letters and poetry is most likely the result of the Blounts’ conviction that Pope was merely engaging in an intellectual “love” affair and had no serious intentions, and it is also likely that the Blounts (mother and brother) were flattered that a well-known poet would interest himself in their affairs. 

After alternating his attentions between Theresa and Martha, Pope seems to have settled his genuine affections on Martha. In November, 1714, Pope wrote a letter to Martha in which he said: 

Most Divine ! ‘Tis some proof of my sincerity °wards you that I write when I am prepared by drinking to speak the truth. . . Wine awakens and refreshes the lurking passions of the mind. . . .

Pope had gotten into the unfortunate habit of writing letters while “tipsy” (read, drunk), but this letter to Martha was a response to a letter from Martha addressed to Pope as “Dear Creature” and “my charming Mr. Pope,” certainly terms that encouraged the Pope’s belief that Martha was attracted to him. 

Pope’s relationship with Martha Blount was generally a puzzle to Pope’s friends, and several of his close friends actually thought that Martha was perhaps his wife (unacknowledged) or his mistress because she had been a correspondent of his for so long, and their relationship seemed to be “comfortable” and close. 

Pope was, however, despite some of his libertine verses, essentially a moralist and a fairly strict Catholic, and there is ultimately not much evidence that Pope and Martha Blount were more than very good platonic friends. They had a long history together, Martha is reputed to have been very even-tempered and generous, so there is every reason to believe that their friendship was close but not romantic. 

45. According to Pope, when women die, their spirits live on. What are the four possible forms these spirits take? 

Ans: The four types of spirits which dead women take on in Alexander Pope’s The Rape of Lock are mirrored by the four elements: air, earth, water, and fire. In lines 59-60, we are introduced to Salamanders of fire. This type of spirit has a strong personality and is temperamental. She is quick to resolve her anger. 

In lines 61-62, we are introduced to Nymphs, or water spirits. This type of spirit is undecided. She does not have a strong opinion one way or the other. 

In lines 63-64, we meet Gnomes, or earthly spirits. This type of spirit is moody and prone to dramatic outbursts. The Pope considers Gnomes to be haughty and to Care too much about outward appearances. They are so consumed with being materialistic that they don’t mind putting up facades to attract others. 

Finally, in lines 65-66, we see Sylphs, or spirits of the air. This type of spirit is happy, outgoing, and even flirty. According to Pope, Sylphs are the best type of spirit because they guard the reputable young women through different social situations, particularly when they are with their male counterparts. 

46. How can you apply Pope’s “An Essay On Criticism” to “The Rape of Lock”? 

Ans: Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism” is a manual for literary critics written in verse and has many elements that are applicable to his “Rape of the Lock.” 

First, Pope urges that his readers justly value the models of antiquity and appreciate their greatness. This means that as a student, even if you find Pope’s own writing archaic or difficult, you should put in the effort ead ‘t carefully for yourself; just as Pope learned about human nature and literary form from close study of Homer, so you can learn from reading Pope. 

Next, Pope urges critics not to judge too hastily or negatively and to understand poems in light of what the poet is setting out to accomplish. That means that as you read the “Rape of the Lock”, you should focus on its nature as a mock epic and how it effectively satirizes the traditions of heroic epic. 

“An Essay on Criticism” also focuses on poetic craft. You can use the “numbers” section to evaluate Pope’s use of metre; Pope would suggest that you look at whether he mixes polysyllabic words with monosyllabic ones to avoid having “… ten low words of creep in one dull line” and whether he uses metrical variations in a way appropriate his subject matter. 

Pope also argues that it is important to use rhymes effectively. In “Rape of the Lock” he often rhymes the grand terms of traditional epic with trivial ones of everyday life for comic effect, as when he uses an extended (mock) epic simile to compare a game of cards to a war, a good example of this manner of using rhyme can be found in the following lines : 

His warlike amazon her host invades, 

The’ imperial consort of the crown of Spades

47. Is Pope’s presentation of Belinda in The Rape of the Lock complimentary or condescending? 

Ans: Pope’s friend John Carlyle asked him to defuse a war of words between the families of Arabella Fermor, Belinda in the poem, and Lord Pete, the Barn in the poem, after Lord Pete snipped off a lock of Miss Fermor’s hair. Both families, as well as Pope, were part of the Catholic minority in upper-class British society, and one of Pope’s goals was likely to stop this fight over such a ludicrous event because the families were embarrassing the larger Catholic minority. Pope himself described the origin of the mock-epic to his friend Joseph Spence: 

The stealing of Miss Belle Fermor’s hair was taken too seriously, and caused an estrangement between the two families, though they have long lived in great friendship before. . . . [I wrote the poem] to make a jest of it, and laugh them together again. . . .which was well received and had its effect in the two families. 

According to Spence, ‘Arabella ‘took it so well as to give about copies of it.’ 

This great mock-epic was originally ate privately among a small group of friends and family in manuscript form only, and it was only when an unauthorised version was about to be published that Pope authorised the publication. Both main participants–Fermor and Lord Petre–received advance pub-lication copies before the actual publication. 

No doubt Fermor and Lord Petre were somewhat embarrassed by the publication of the poem, which, after all, showed them engaged in a ridiculous controversy. The conventions of the mock-epic required that Pope exaggerate the characters and actions to the point of slapstick comedy, and Fermor and Lord Petre no doubt would have preferred the poem to remain unpublished. 

Because Pope did not intend for the poem to become public–and was merely trying to help defuse a ludicrous fight that cast these Catholic families in a bad light—it is likely that the poem is not so much a criticism of Fermor and Lord Petre as on the foolishness of the families’ reactions. 

48. Who tried to cut Belinda’s hair in “The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: “The Rape of the Lock” is a mock epic or an “heroi-comica poem” as Pope describes it in the epigraph. The poem uses the form, tone, and seriousness often resery genuine epics which are usually based on signifi ggles such as war (The Iliad) or the battle between good and evil (Paradise Lost). A mock epic uses these tropes but the subject is not as grandiose. This is a battle/argument between men and women. The tone is high and serious, but the subject matter is trivial. 

Belinda, the main character, is invited by friends to go to Hampton Court. In Canto 2, they sail up the Thames River and during this trip, the Baron decides he wants a lock of Belinda’s hair : 

The adventurous Baron the bright locks admired, 

He saw, he wished, and to the prize aspired. (29-30) 

They arrive and eventually start playing Ombre, a card game. In keeping with a mockery of the epic form, Pope describes the card game as if it were a war or a battle between kings and queens. This is fitting, considering the use of cards representing kings and queens. Ariel, a sylph, watches over Belinda in an attempt to protect her from harm. He is a spirit or her guardian angel. Still engaged in the card game, the Baron is drinking coffee and comes up with a plan to cut the lock from Belinda’s hair. His cohort, Clarissa, quietly presents the Baron with scissors (“a two-edged weapon”) which he will use to cut the lock. Ariel and his supporting sprites try to stop the Baron by calling Belinda’s attention to what is going on, but Belinda does not respond. The Baron doesn’t just try; he succeeds. The Baron cuts her hair. Ariel is cut as well but since he is a spirit, his immaterial body reforms immediately. However, the hair has been cut : 

A wretched Sylph too fondly interposed;

Fate urged the shears, and cut the Sylph in twain 

(But airy substance soon unites again): 

The meeting points the sacred hair dissever 

From the fair head, forever and forever! (150- 54) 

Belinda is horrified. Even though this is a mock epic, this act of cutting her hair is like an assault and symbolises a loss of feminine virtue. 

49. Discuss in detail the blending of comic and epic elements in Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: In The Rape of the Lock, Pope takes a silly, comical, real-life incident that occurred between two families and creates a heroic mock-epic to both immortalize the incident and gently make fun of it. If you look at the conventions of epic poetry, you can clearly see that Pope makes full use of the genre in his story about a young society woman who is “raped” of a lock of her hair. 

1. He uses the heroic couplet, which 

2. He calls upon the Muse to inspire his words, just as Homer and Virgil did in their epics 

3. He uses the devices of supernatural intervention and the idea of gods and goddesses being interested in the affairs of humans, but they are lesser spirits in his poem than in the real epics.

4. Since epics are usually about war and nation building and identity, he uses the card game of ombre as a stand in for war, making the battle of cards seem as important as war. 

The comic elements come into the picture in the way that he exaggerates a very trivial incident, making it seem far more important than it really is. In the end, the ravished lock of hair ascends to heaven and becomes a star shining down upon the poor, bereft heroine Belinda, who is left with only one lock at the nape of her neck until her hair grows back. 

50. In the “Rape of the Lock” what is the speaker’s attitude toward women and which lines best express this view? 

Ans: In the “Rape of the Lock,” Alexander Pope portrays women as primarily engaged in the art of courtship. The women in the poem are very concerned with their outward physical appearance, as we can see in the elaborate description of the dressing table in lines I:121-148. Rather than portraying women after death as undergoing a traditional last Judgement, they are described as becoming frivolous Sylphs if they are frivolous by nature and equally mischievous Gnomes if they are prudes. (1:50-56). In lines III:155-160, grief for a bit of hair is described as on the same level for women as death of a husband, a lapdog, or breaking a piece of china. Again, this suggests that the women (and men!) in the poem are seen as superficial and materialistic. Of course, this is a satire, and the characters symbolise the worst rather than the best, types of aristocratic females. 

51. Describe the character of Belinda in “The Rape of the Lock.” What type of girl she is? 

Ans: Belinda is presented by Pope in “The Rape of the Lock” as a bundle of contradictions. This makes her not just a more interesting character, but also a reflection of the society in which she lives. First and foremost, Belinda is a ravishingly beautiful young lady, her beauty a source of wonderment and admiration to men and women alike. Her very name comes from the Latin for “lovely to behold.” Pope often describes Belinda in gushing superlatives such as “the brightest fair” and “the fairest of mortals.” 

Belinda is acutely aware of her extraordinary beauty and the equally extraordinary effect it has on people. She is the centre of attention wherever she goes, most notably during her pleasure ride down the Thames, her bright smile and eyes shining like the sun: 

Bright as the sun , her eyes the gazers strike, 

And, like the sun , she shines on all alike. 

Not surprisingly, with all this natural beauty and the attention it brings, Belinda is a rather vain, superficial young lady. She worships at the feet of beauty, and, as she’s the very embodiment of that beauty, she worships herself as intently as everyone else does. Though self-assured, Belinda’s value system seems more than a tad confused. She ostentatiously keeps a copy of the Bible on her dressing table along with all her powders, creams, and hairbrushes. It’s as if Belinda treats the Word of God as just another fashion accessory, a means of showing off to people how devout she is. But placing a Bible next to a pile of love letters indicates just how shallow this attachment to religion really is. 

Belinda’s childishness, vanity, and superficiality come out even more strongly when the Baron relieves her of one of her pretty locks. Belinda lives by the code of beauty; her whole life is utterly devoted to it. Without her lovely lock of hair she feels no longer beautiful. It is then, however, that Belinda undergoes a stark transformation. In her implacable wrath and thirst for vengeance, she’s no longer innocent; no longer a goddess walking upon the earth, but a real human being: fallen, vulnerable, and subject to the vicissitudes of everyday life. 

52. Examine the relationship between the mock-heroic and satire in Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: Pope wrote a mock-heroic for the purpose of satirising or poking fun at a petty quarrel in the contemporary world in which he lived. The poem was inspired by an incident in which Lord Petre cut off a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair without her permission, starting a feud between the two families. 

By imitating the epic, heroic style of the Iliad, Pope highlighted how ridiculous the quarrel was and by implication, how pallid the contemporary upper clasSes in contrast to the Greek heroes. The Greeks (and Trojans) had real problems. They fought an actual, bloody, bitter war in which many people, including many heroic people, were killed. Using the Trojan war as a point of contrast with a fight over taking a lock of hair showed how silly the lock-of-hair quarrel was. For example, Belinda, the character in the poem based on Arabella, “arms” herself with hair pins and powder for what is a mere drawing room “battle” as she primps to go out in company : 

Here files of pins extend their shining rows, 

Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-dout. 

Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms 

The mock-heroic here functions as satire: the exalted form, wedded to an inane plot about a lock of hair is what makes us laugh. It is similar to having a grand operatic moment with a huge chorus and cymbals and long high notes to advertise chewing gum: the satire is created by the slippage between form and substance. 

53. Explain the following lines in “The Rape of the Lock”? “whether the nymph shall break diana’s law,or some frail chaina jar recieve a flaw, or stain her honour” 

Ans: These lines appear in canto 2. The speech in which the lines are contained is Ariel’s instructions to his army of sylphs on what each of them will do to guide and protect Belinda. For instance, he assigns one sylph to tend her watch, several to tend her skirts, and himself to tend her dog. Pope uses a satirical tone here to mock the ridiculous importance that the leisure class placed on insignificant things, like perfume. Pope juxtaposes the frivolous with the truly significant to create this satirical tone. 

In these particular lines, the Nymph to which Ariel refers is Belinda herself. Capitalising the name suggests this. The allusion to “Diana’s law” is based on the Roman goddess of chastity and the moon. Based on this, one can infer that Diana’s law is Belinda’s virginity as an unmarried woman. 

Ariel lists Belinda’s losing her virginity as just one of many potential “black omens” that could happen to her that day, including if she broke a vase or stained a “Brocade.” 

Ariel juxtaposes Belinda’s potentially minor mistakes with a potentially grave one (sexual purity was important, especially among upper classes), which further indicates the ridiculous nature of this excerpt. 

54. In The Rape of the Lock, what does “Mine” refer to in the first line below ? The Lock, the Muse shall consecrate to Fame, And amidst the Stars inscribe Belinda’s name ! 

Ans: A Muse refers to one of seven sisters in Greek mythology, each of whom were responsible for a particular branch of art or science. It was typical for epics such as Homer’s Odyssey and Milton’s Paradise Lost to begin with an appeal to the “Muse” to help them and inspire them to write their works, and this is something that Pope does as part of creating this mock epic, or a piece that contains the ingredients of an epic but not the subject matter. 

Note how the quote makes this mock epic status of the poem clear. This quote comes from the end of the poem, and talks about the fate of Belinda’s lock of hair and how it became a star that will be remembered forever. Such an august object it has become that the Muse who inspired Pope to write this mock epic will transform it into a star so that it will be remembered forever : 

The Lock, the Muse shall consecrate to Fame, 

And amidst the Stars inscribe Belinda’s name ! 

The Muse is supposedly the agent that Pope therefore appeals to for inspiration and who makes Belinda’ hair immortal. Clearly, this is a mock epic because in legends it was only characters who suffered greatly or eamt immortality by overcoming massive challenges who became immortalised in the stars. That such a trivial object as a lock of hair is turned into a star indicates the purpose of Pope’s poem : he is poking fun at those who gave to the event much more importance than it actually warranted. The reference to the Muse, a figure associated with proper epic poems, supports this overblown and deliberately exaggerated approach. 

55. In Cantos II and III, assess the importance of the sylphs in our understanding of Pope’s attitude to his subject in The Rape of the Lock. 

Ans: Identifying the author’s attitude toward the subject of a literary work may be a difficult task. The author’s attitude can only be inferred from the narrator’s tone. Additionally, it may be confirmed through elements contributing to the story’s mood (setting, characterizations, descriptions, diction, etc.). Therefore, to find the attitude of Pope toward the subject matter in The Rape of the Lock, the first step is to determine the tone. 

The narrator’s tone is established by vocabulary, phrasing, diction, and sentence structure. Incidentally, mood is very different from tone in that mood paints the feeling of the characters within the story. For example, a story may have a frightening mood but an objective narratorial tone as in some stories by Edgar Allan Poe. 

To reiterate, the narrator’s tone can give inference to the author’s attitude toward the subject matter. In The Rape of the Lock the narratorial tone is a lightly jesting tone of both ridicule and praise. You can see this from the opening lines in the words am’rous, trivial, slight, praise : 

What dire Offence from am’rous Causes springs, 

What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,

[… ] 

Slight is the Subject, but not the Praise, …. (Canto I) 

When Pope turns to talking about a fair maiden’s dressing ritual aided by sylphs in Canto H, then to the protection granted by Ariel and his fairies in Canto III, this tone is heightened. Thus the inference of the Pope’s attitude is clarified. 

To Fifty chosen Sylphs, of special Note, 

We trust th’ important Charge, the Petticoat : (Canto II) 

anxious Ariel sought 

The close Recesses of the Virgin’s thought; 

As on the Nosegay in her Breast reclined, 

He watch’d th’ Ideas rising in her Mind, (Canto III) 

To an audience steeped in reading classical mythology, the mythological allusion to and image of sylphs attending a fair maiden’s dressing table under the instruction of Ariel would evoke humour and laughter, thus pointing at the author’s attitude. However, for contemporary readers, the sylphs and others of Ariel’s legions make a less significant impact because, in large part, contemporary readers are not well versed in classical reading in the way literate members of the English upper classes were in the 1800s.

The introduction of the sylphs by Pope is an important indication of the attitude with which Pope addresses the subject of the theft of Belinda’s lock of hair–incidentally, the poem is based upon a true event that caused a temporary feud between two families. From the tone and from the clarification provided by the mythical allusion to sylphs, it may be inferred that Pope’s attitude toward the theft of Belinda’s lock is one of gentle chiding ridicule that such a relative trifle should so severely divide two families. It may further be said that the mythical allusion to sylphs adds greatly to revealing the attitude of gentle ridicule in Pope’s chiding poem, The Rape of the Lock. 

56. Which translation of Homer’s The Iliad did Pope use to write his parody of it, The Rape of the Lock? In The Rape of the Lock the language of the epics was parodied. But was it the language of any particular translation? 

Ans: Alexander Pope was a well educated and learned Englishman who was, like his fellow English-men, well versed in Greek and Latin. Though crippled by spinal disfigurement due to childhood tuberculosis, Pope made his living by translations and writing poetry. In 1713, Pope began his own translation of Homer’s The Iliad. The one English translation of The Iliad that is uniformly noted by historians is George Chapman’s translation (Keats later praises “Chapman’s Homer” in the lyric sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”). It is also said of Pope that an early play in his juvenilia was based on Homer’s The Iliad. 

Since Pope was a fluent reader of Greek and of Homer, and since he was familiar with Homer’s work from his childhood, and since he comments on Chapman’s translation in the Preface to the 1715 publication of the first four books of his own translation of The Iliad (the project was completed in 1720), and since it seems necessary to conclude that Pope worked from the Greek on his own translation, it also seems necessary to conclude that Pope worked from and drew upon his knowledge of the original Greek text of The Iliad for his parody of it in The Rape of the Lock (1712). 

57. Does the epic The Rape of the Lock apply in any way to society today? What are two passages in The Rape of the Lock that could serve as satiric commentaries on people’s behavior today? 

Ans: In The Rape of the Lock, Pope satirizes human vanity and specifically the fashionable upper-class English society of his own time. At the start of canto II he describes his heroine, Belinda, in words which, with a few adjustments, would apply to any number of celebrities at a “red carpet” event of our own time: 

Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike, 

And, like the sun, they shine on all alike. 

Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride,

Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide. 

Later, at the climax of the action in canto V, Pope has another woman, Clarissa (who has helped to facilitate the snipping off of Belinda’s lock of hair) question this credo by which physical charms are held in esteem above all else: 

“Say, why are beauties praised and honoured most,

The wise man’s passion, and the vain man’s toast? 

Why decked with all that land and sea afford, 

Why are angels called, and angel-like adored?” 

It is a feminist message. As in our time, however, the two conflicting messages seem to be reconciled by the Pope. Today, we see no contradiction between the gender equality that feminism represents and the fact of independent women being admired for their beauty as well as other qualities. At the close of his mock epic, Pope makes the point that although beauty takes different forms in the eye of the beholder, the simple fact of its being celebrated (by a writer such as himself, or by anyone) is what gives it lasting significance and makes it endure: 

This lock, the Muse shall consecrate to fame, 

And midst the stars inscribe Belinda’s name.

58. In “The Rape of the Lock,” what quote references the upper class as petty? 

Ans: It’s not just one or two specific quotes, but the whole atmosphere of the narrative in “The Rape of the Lock” that portrays the upper class as petty. Pope does so in a subtle enough way, however, that the impression is a light-hearted one. It’s not the kind of slashing, bitter satire in which Pope’s contemporary Swift specialised. I would select the opening lines of Canto 3 as representative of the general attitude of Pope toward the men and women he deals with: 

Close by those meads, for ever crown’d with flow’rs, 

Where Thames with pride surveys his rising tow’rs, 

There stands a structure of majestic frame, 

Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its name. 

Here Britain’s statesmen of the fall foredoom 

Of foreign tyrants and of nymphs at home; 

Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey, 

Dost sometimes counsel take—and sometimes tea. 

It’s typical of the heroic couplet to present ideas that function both as opposites and likenesses. Britain’s statesmen seem equally interested in the “fall” of young women on the one hand and foreign tyrants on the other. The effect is to ridicule or trivialise matters of state. Similarly, Queen Anne takes counsel and tea, and which of the two does the Pope imply is more important to her? 

Remember that Pope’s literary talent had granted him an entry into the highest levels of society, but he was an outsider still for two main reasons: his Roman Catholic religion and his unattractive appearance. One can imagine that, understandably, he is somewhat motivated by envy in his put-downs of the British gentry. These people do not seem to embody the height of intellectualism or profound emotion: 

In various talk th’ instructive hours they pass’d, 

Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last; 

One speaks the glory of the British queen, 

And one describes a charming Indian screen; 

The one moment in which this crowd seems to come to its senses and to get serious is when Clarissa asks “Say, why are beauties praised and honoured most?” 

This is the core of Pope’s theme : the falseness and inadequacy of “appearances” in life, especially in relations between men and women. Despite Clarissa, both the comic tone and the overall mock-heroic approach are a facade that prevents us from seeing just how deep Pope’s criticism is of the pettiness and superficiality of these people. His final message seems to be that it is only his own art that redeems them, especially Belinda. The theme of art immortalising temporal beauty is one that extends far back in literary history. Spenser in Amoretti wrote his beloved’s name in the sand on the beach, and Pope writes Belinda’s in the sky : 

This lock, the Muse shall consecrate to fame,

And midst the stars inscribe Belinda’s name ! 

59. Comment on the line “Slight is the subject, but not so the praise” in Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock.” 

Ans: The line “Slight is the subject, but not so the praise” comes from the first stanza of Canto I of The Rape of the Lock. In this stanza, Pope is giving the reader some idea of what the overall tone of the poem will be. 

As Pope makes it clear in this line, the subject of the work will be “slight,” that is to say trivial and unimportant, not something to be taken seriously. That is because the poem deals with an event which is in most contexts trivial: the theft of a lock of a woman’s hair (Belinda). But because this theft causes such a huge commotion in the upper echelons of English high society, and because of its inexhaustible comic value, Pope has decided to write about it. 

At the same time, however, Pope insists that the praise that he will receive for The Rape of the Lock will be anything but trivial. Never short on self-confidence, Pope is certain that his mock epic will meet with general “praise” assuming that the poetic muse he invokes fulfils his request for inspiration. 

The literary fame that Pope seeks is therefore immediately contrasted right at the outset with the fame that Belinda has acquired in high society through her extraordinary beauty and charm. The implication here is that the praise that Pope will receive for the poem will be much more enduring than that showered on Belinda for her outward appearance. 

60. In The Rape of the Lock, is there anything ridiculous about the character of Belinda? 

Ans: This famous mock epic was actually based on a real event, which occurred when Lord Petre cut off a lock of Arabella Fermor’s hair, and the Fermor family declared that this was a calamity. Pope wrote the poem to poke gentle fun at the Fermor family and to suggest that their response was rather exaggerated considering the exact nature of the offence. It is therefore clear that this poem does present Belinda, the character meant to be a thinly veiled disguised Arabella Fermor, in a rather ridiculous manner. This is most clearly seen in Belinda’s response to having her lock cut from her in Canto 4 : 

Happy ! ah, ten times happy had I been, 

If Hampton Court these eyes had never been seen ! 

Yet am I not the first mistaken maid,

By love of courts to numerous ills betrayed. 

Oh, had 1 rather un admired remained 

In some lone isle, or distant northern land; 

Where the gilt chariot never marks the way… 

Pope here clearly makes fun of Belinda. As much as she pines and wishes that she had never peered in society, the long and elaborate ritual with which she prepares herself for public view in Canto 1 clearly belies this sentiment. Having spent so long making herself as beautiful as possible through the application of cosmetics, she can now hardly state that she wished she had never appeared in society. Public exposure of her beauty is what she wanted, and the rape of the lock, Pope suggests, is shown to be a natural consequence of that beauty. Belinda is ridiculous to weep about appearing in society now, and thus her presentation of a nymph in “beauteous grief’ shows just how foolish and ridiculous she actually is. 

61. Please explain the following quote from “The Rape of the Lock”: “With varying vanities, from every part, / They shift the moving toyshop of their heart.” 

Ans: This couplet is part of a series of observations Pope makes about what was usually referred to as “the inconstancy of women.” The behaviour of women, in Pope’s mock-heroic scenario, is controlled by the “sylphs,” tiny airy beings that fly about and exert a subliminal influence upon those they “guard.” The directing power of these sylphs is a metaphor for Pope’s theme concerning the “games’ ‘ women supposedly play in pretending to reject a man when another man is waiting in the wings to take his place. Because it is alleged to be just this, a game, a woman’s heart is described as dominated by a toyshop created by the sylphs, who manipulate women’s “vanities” as the play of coquetry is carried out. The question, as “The Rape of the Lock” develops, is: how much of this metaphor is intended as irony, as a send-up of the usual way in which women are judged by men ? There can be no doubt that the overall tone of the poem, though light-hearted and overstated for comic effect, is demeaning to women. At least, it appears that way, until in Canto 5 Pope has Clarissa make the following proto-feminist statement: 

Say, why are beauties prais’d and honour’d most, 

The wise man’s passion, and the vain man’s toast? 

Why deck’d with all that land and sea afford, 

Why are angels call’d, and angel-like ador’d? 

The one thing that weakens the force and the seriousness of these lines is that Clarissa is quite obviously jealous of Belinda, since she passes the scissors to the Baron for him to use in snipping the lock. Pope’s view is probably at least as progressive, however, as any man of his time would have expressed. His contemporary and friend Swift was, by comparison, openly misogynistic, and even fifty or more years later, Johnson, in his Lives of the English Poets, stated that Pope had appropriately pointed out the damaging effects that the emotionalism of women can have on human relations (!). So I would tend to give the Pope a pass on his sexism. 

The couplet you have asked about, however, is definitely open to further interpretation. What does it imply about human nature in general, given that it is not only women who appear to be controlled by extra-human forces? Mock-heroism is a satirical technique, but beyond this, one can infer a serious message about all of us somehow being at the mercy of forces we cannot govern. Is there, for instance, a hidden truth in the seemingly comical couplet involving the Baron’s intentions: 

The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer, 

The rest, the winds dispersed in empty air. 

This one statement seems to be the key to much of the Pope’s thought, regarding both men and women. 

62. Explain the following line in The Rape of the Lock : “here files of pins extend their shining rows” 

Ans: The following line appears in Pope’s poem “The Rape of the Lock” in Canto One, line 37. Explanation of the line needs to be completed within the context of Canto One as a whole.

In Canto One, Pope introduces the Beautiful Belinda. The Sun (a muse in the poem) has been evoked so as to provide the beginning of the day (which the sun historically symbolises). The people of the household, therefore, are described as going about their typical morning routine. 

Readers learn of Belinda and her relationship with the Sylphs- they are her protectors- through a description of her dreams. Her main protector, Ariel, tells her in her dream that the day will bring about “some dread Event”. After awakening from her dream, and the warning, Belinda proceeds to ready herself for the day. 

Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows, 

Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux. 

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms; 

The Fair each moment rises in her Charms, 

Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev’ry Grace, 

And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face; 

The lines shown above tell of Belinda readying herself for the day. The “files of pins” are hair pins placed into her hair in rows. The following lines depict the things Belinda needs to get ready so that all can look upon “the Wonders of her Face”. 

The line is simply referring to Belinda having her hair done.

63. What was Alexander Pope’s view of women? Was he a misogynist like Shakespeare? 

Ans: There is a difference between being a misogynist as an individual and having the normal attitudes about gender roles within a society in which those roles are assumed to be distinct. We have no evidence that Shakespeare was a misogynist. He has many admirable and powerful and many evil characters of both genders. 

It’s true that Shakespeare’s character Hamlet says : 

Heaven and earth, 

Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him 

As if increase of appetite had grown 

By what it fed on, and yet, within a month 

Let me not think on’t—Frailty, thy name is woman !—

But this isn’t a criticism in Shakespearee’s own voice of all women, but rather Hamlet’s reaction to his mother’s remarriage to the murderer of his father. 

Alexander Pope does have slightly more misogynistic tendencies, in part due to his own physical deformity making him somewhat unattractive. His “Rape of the Lock” makes fun of men and women equally though, and the targets of his most harsh satire were men (e.g. his Dunciad.)

64. How is the poem, “The Rape of the Lock,” proper sexual bahavior for the time? 

Ans: Alexander Pope, the author of this mock-epic poem, was one of the greatest social critics of the time. In this poem, he makes fun of much of society’s behaviours – courtship behaviour and otherwise. Keep in mind that there is no “sex” in this poem, and it would have been horridly frowned upon in Pope’s time period as it was still very much in vogue to many as pure as when you were born…especially for young ladies. However, courting and attending parties to see and be seen was approved behaviour. Belinda, the main character in the poem, is the loveliest and most sought after marriageable young lady. She does not want to go to the party, but can’t stand not being there and in the middle of the fun. She is sweet on the Baron, a very eligible bachelor, and she leans in a little too close and smiles too much at his jokes. The sylphs who protect her hair, her reputation, and all other valuables on her person detect her willingness to give in to his affections and they are powerless to protect her against her own will. Belinda’s favourite curl is severed from her head, and then all chaos breaks loose as she eventually stabs the Baron with her hatpin demanding it back. 

So, Pope pokes fun at the (vanity) preparation young women take to make themselves beautiful, at the “ceremony” of gossiping, and the courtship behaviour of the Baron and Belinda which is more like warfare. This is all very much accurate to the time period. 

65. How does the effect of the epic help bring out the ‘pettiness of the conflict in the “Rape of Lock”? 

Ans: Pope uses Greek epics such as the Iliad as a frame for The Rape of the Lock. The Rape of the Lock centers on the “outrage” of the Baron cutting off a lock of Belinda’s hair. It is meant to poke fun at a real life feud caused by the overreaction of the Fermor family when Lord Petre clipped off a piece of Arabella Fermor’s hair without her permission. 

By using very serious epics about warfare, death, rape, and tragedy as a backdrop, Pope highlights how silly and decadent a quarrel about a lock of hair really is. After all, who cares about a little bit of hair ? Hair grows, and nobody has died. Pope mocks the quarrel by turning the gods of the epics into smaller, fluttering little sylphs, appropriate for the petty concerns of his characters. Pope has one of Arabella’s “miseries” that she ever learned to play the card game Ochre! This is quite a contrast to the death and destruction, for example, wrought on Troy. Further, while Achilles in the Iliad has to have a new shield made, which is described in detail to show the good life the soldiers are defending, because of the death of his best friend in battle, a parallel incident in The Rape of the Lock is the long and ridiculous description of Belinda’s petticoat.

Pope is asking everyone involved in the real life quarrel to get a grip by putting their petty problems within the context of the real problems ancient peoples faced. 

66. Who wrote the parody “The Rape of the Lock”? 

Ans: Alexander Pope did. He mocked the “baroque” style of heroic verse so given over to exaggeration and sentimentality by giving an account of a girl getting a curl snipped from her hair (an insignificant incident) as if it were a “federal case” or even an affair of the Olympian gods. 

Parody is indeed the right word for this literary genre – imitating a certain form of writing but switching the content thereof so that the end effect is quite absurd. Johnathan Swift does the same thing with his essay “A Modest Proposal,” only he uses understatement instead of exaggeration to make his point. 

67. “And Betty’s praised for labours not her own.” Who praises who in this line from The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: The line this question refers to is the last line in Canto I of this poem where the process of Belinda preparing herself to face society is described in great detail. In particular, Pope uses various sylphs and fairies as agents of this process of Belinda readying herself, as the context of this line makes clear :

The busy Sylphs surround their darling care; 

These set the head, and those divide the hair, 

Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown; 

And Betty’s praised for labours not her own. 

Betty is a familiar name for Belinda, and thus the last line refers to the way that Belinda is praised by society for her beauty and her appearance. Note how this final line makes it clear that the process of making herself beautiful is not one that Betty is responsible for herself : she gains praise from society for something that isn’t the result of her own work. Pope here is making a satirical comment on a society that judges by appearances alone and where praise is given to people for work they haven’t done. In reality, sylphs aside, Belinda’s beauty has very little to do with her own efforts and is the result of carefully trained servants who work very hard and receive no praise for their efforts. 

68. What is the importance of Hampton Court in The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: In canto 3 of The Rape of the Lock, the speaker refers to Queen Anne’s activities at Hampton Court. The speaker addresses her directly (the literary device known as apostrophe) as “great Anna.” The palace at Hampton Court (now a museum) was once the secondary residence of the British monarchy. Located a few miles from London along the River Thames, it grew into importance under the reign of Henry VIII (after it was gifted to him by Cardinal Woolsey) and was often used to entertain foreign dignitaries. 

The speaker calls attention to its importance as the place where British “statesmen” conduct important political affairs and where the queen receives the counsel of advisors. He also trivialises her activities by emphasising that, as well as counsel, she takes “tea.” 

Belinda travels to Hampton Court for a party. The speaker describes the activities of the elegant young men—such as cards—in serious terms that would be appropriate to the statesmen’s affairs. It is there that the Baron carries out his evil plan and cuts the lock of Belinda’s hair. 

69. Explain the following lines from The Rape of the Lock : “But since, alas ! frail Beauty must decay, Coiled or uncoiled, since Locks will turn to grey,” 

Ans: The following lines appear in “The Rape of the Lock” Canto Five, lines 25-26 : 

But since, alas ! frail Beauty must decay, 

Coiled or uncoiled, since Locks will turn to grey, 

In Canto Five, the action of the poem turns to the consideration regarding the beauty of women and how society looks at the beauty of women. 

This being said, at the end of the poem and Canto Five the recognition regarding one’s ability to sustain immortality comes into question. The lines above refer to the fact that only in Heaven can a person and , or more importantly, the locks sustain their glory. The lines, therefore, refer to the fact that on earth beauty diminishes (including the golden colour of the locks changing to grey). Only in Heaven, in the stars, can Belinda and her locks remain beautiful and admired for their beauty in a timeless way. 

Simply, the lines refer to the fact that both beauty and all things associated with beauty will decay. 

70. What is the impact of reading Pope’s satirical work The Rape of the Lock? 

Ans: I think for me the impact of reading this hilarious work is to see the various foibles of the eighteenth century acted out before me, but then also to see how we are still subject to the same kind of vices and failings in today’s world, albeit in a different way that is shaped by our context and time. The focus that this work gives to artificial beauty and our appearance clearly is exaggerated through the form of mock epic that is adopted. We are presented with a world in which Belinda dresses herself and makes herself look as beautiful as possible, and this process is compared to a warrior putting on armour and readying himself for a life or death struggle. 

On the one hand, such descriptions are greatly amusing as Pope reveals the superficial nature of his society and the excesses of those characters like Belinda who thought they had to take such care and invest such energy and resources in their outward appearance. However, it made me think of the ways in which society does in fact judge so harshly based on superficial qualities alone. In our day and age, celebrities who go out into the public eye and do not look perfect are ridiculed and gossiped about to their detriment. The impact of reading this satire for me was to actually reflect on the kind of ways in which this situation is still very true for us today. On the one hatid, Belinda’s superficial qualities are shown with great hilarity. On the other hand, there is a very serious point behind it: Belinda lives and operates in a world that will judge her on her superficial appearance alone, and that is something she cannot ignore. Perhaps our own world is not that different any more. I just need to go and spend a few hours in front of a mirror now before I go out to work. 

71. Explain the following lines from The Rape of the Lock : “How vain are all these Glories, all our Pains, Unless good Sense preserve what Beauty gains :” 

Ans: The following lines appear in “The Rape of the Lock”, Canto Five, lines 15-16: 

How vain are all these Glories, all our Pains, 

Unless good Sense preserve what Beauty gains: 

The lines refer to the fact that beauty is questioned in regards to its being honoured by the “wise Man’s passion” and the “vain Man’s Toast. “This is compounded when the question arises about women being compared to angels in regards to their beauty alone men do not compare women to angels because of their minds or morality.

The lines above refer to the fact that vanity, above all else, seems to be on the minds of men. The women find it insensible that beauty alone holds men and that good sense does not factor into the equation at all.

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