Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock



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Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock; Canto I
You will have 15 minutes to present your canto to the class. Assume that members of your audience have read the canto; you are simply going to help them make better sense of it.
Every presentation should do two things. First, you should summarize the canto and explain its function in the context of the poem as a whole, providing along the way any background or definitions you think your peers might find helpful. Second, you should offer some interesting insights into the canto; these can be local (“this word has two meanings . . .”) or general (“throughout the canto Pope suggests that women’s characters are . . .”). The best presentations will be both clear and easy for listeners to follow and full of observations that give listeners a more nuanced understanding of the poem.
Every member of the group must contribute in some way to the presentation, but you can divvy up the work and the “performance” of your material any way you like. You may also ask questions of the class, use the media equipment in the room, bring in outside materials, or do anything else that you think would make the presentation more effective or engaging—it’s entirely up to you.
Questions to get you started:
The poem presents itself as a “mock epic.” What are some of the features of epic poems? In what ways is RotL like an epic? In what ways is it not? What is the effect of that discrepancy?
The poem is rich in satiric irony; have an eye out for both large- and small-scale ironies.
What do you make of lines 101-2?
In Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost, Satan tempts Eve by whispering a dream into her ear, playing upon her vanity so as to tempt her to violate God’s prohibition against eating from the Tree of Knowledge. What are the implications of the allusion to that scene here?
The scene at the toilet table is described in terms of two dominant metaphors; what are they and what are some of their implications?
What do the descriptions of the supernatural beings in the poem suggest about Pope’s conception of women?

Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock; Canto II
You will have 15 minutes to present your canto to the class. Assume that members of your audience have read the canto; you are simply going to help them make better sense of it.
Every presentation should do two things. First, you should summarize the canto and explain its function in the context of the poem as a whole, providing along the way any background or definitions you think your peers might find helpful. Second, you should offer some interesting insights into the canto; these can be local (“this word has two meanings . . .”) or general (“throughout the canto Pope suggests that women’s characters are . . .”). The best presentations will be both clear and easy for listeners to follow and full of observations that give listeners a more nuanced understanding of the poem.
Every member of the group must contribute in some way to the presentation, but you can divvy up the work and the “performance” of your material any way you like. You may also ask questions of the class, use the media equipment in the room, bring in outside materials, or do anything else that you think would make the presentation more effective or engaging—it’s entirely up to you.
Questions to get you started:
This canto is full of puns—note, for instance, the description of Belinda’s curls, or the phrase “painted vessel.” Point some of these out to the class and explain their implications.
Belinda’s worship at the altar of beauty (her dressing table) in Canto 1 has its counterpart in what scene here?
What is the implicit joke of lines 7-8?
What do you make of line 45?
Lines 105-110 make use of a rhetorical device we’ve discussed; what is it, and why does it suit Pope’s project so well?
The convocation of a militia is an epic convention; what is its effect here?
What do you make of the names given to individual sylphs? What do you make of the punishments for neglectful sylphs?
The petticoat is described not just as an item of clothing but as what?

Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock; Canto III
You will have 15 minutes to present your canto to the class. Assume that members of your audience have read the canto; you are simply going to help them make better sense of it.
Every presentation should do two things. First, you should summarize the canto and explain its function in the context of the poem as a whole, providing along the way any background or definitions you think your peers might find helpful. Second, you should offer some interesting insights into the canto; these can be local (“this word has two meanings . . .”) or general (“throughout the canto Pope suggests that women’s characters are . . .”). The best presentations will be both clear and easy for listeners to follow and full of observations that give listeners a more nuanced understanding of the poem.
Every member of the group must contribute in some way to the presentation, but you can divvy up the work and the “performance” of your material any way you like. You may also ask questions of the class, use the media equipment in the room, bring in outside materials, or do anything else that you think would make the presentation more effective or engaging—it’s entirely up to you.
Questions to get you started:
This entire canto relies upon what kind of imagery?
Ombre is a card game and “ombre” means “man.” What kind of imagery is used to introduce this game, and what does that say about Belinda?
Who commands the game at the outset? With which four cards is Belinda victorious? Subsequently, the Baron does well with which card? What do you notice about the gender of the players’ winning cards? What might that signify? Given this use of gender and the title of the poem, can you discern an imagistic pun in line 72? What do you make of the images in lines 57-8 and 76-7? What do lines 87-90 suggest?
Why can’t Ariel protect Belinda when the lock is to be cut? Do you see something subtly suggested in line 178?
Why is the image in lines 159-60 particularly appropriate to its context (cf. Canto 2, line 106)?
Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock; Canto IV
You will have 15 minutes to present your canto to the class. Assume that members of your audience have read the canto; you are simply going to help them make better sense of it.
Every presentation should do two things. First, you should summarize the canto and explain its function in the context of the poem as a whole, providing along the way any background or definitions you think your peers might find helpful. Second, you should offer some interesting insights into the canto; these can be local (“this word has two meanings . . .”) or general (“throughout the canto Pope suggests that women’s characters are . . .”). The best presentations will be both clear and easy for listeners to follow and full of observations that give listeners a more nuanced understanding of the poem.
Every member of the group must contribute in some way to the presentation, but you can divvy up the work and the “performance” of your material any way you like. You may also ask questions of the class, use the media equipment in the room, bring in outside materials, or do anything else that you think would make the presentation more effective or engaging—it’s entirely up to you.
Questions to get you started:
The first part of this canto centers on Umbriel’s visit to the Cave of Spleen. That visit is an extended metaphor for what? What are the implications of that metaphor? How do the characters who populate the Cave of Spleen comment on Pope’s contemporaries? How is the transformation described in line 54 particularly appropriate to the world of this poem? According to lines 57-64, the work of women writers (and in the eighteenth century there were many of them and they were quite popular) was an expression of what?
The visit to the underworld is an epic convention. What do you make of its use here?
Why is it fitting that the goddess “[s]eems to reject” Umbriel at line 80?
What kind of character is Thalestris? What do you make of the combination of items in line 120? What do you make of the name “Sir Plume”? In the eighteenth century it was fashionable to write verses; can you see any way Pope could be using this character to ridicule unskilled writers?
What is the implicit joke in the final two lines of the canto?

Group presentation on Pope’s Rape of the Lock; Canto V
You will have 15 minutes to present your canto to the class. Assume that members of your audience have read the canto; you are simply going to help them make better sense of it.
Every presentation should do two things. First, you should summarize the canto and explain its function in the context of the poem as a whole, providing along the way any background or definitions you think your peers might find helpful. Second, you should offer some interesting insights into the canto; these can be local (“this word has two meanings . . .”) or general (“throughout the canto Pope suggests that women’s characters are . . .”). The best presentations will be both clear and easy for listeners to follow and full of observations that give listeners a more nuanced understanding of the poem.
Every member of the group must contribute in some way to the presentation, but you can divvy up the work and the “performance” of your material any way you like. You may also ask questions of the class, use the media equipment in the room, bring in outside materials, or do anything else that you think would make the presentation more effective or engaging—it’s entirely up to you.
Questions to get you started:
What is Clarissa’s advice, and what do you make of arguments like the one in line 28?
Why do you think “no applause ensued”?
What is a “virago”?
What is the significance of names like “Dapperwit” and “Fopling”? What does the use of an epic convention such as the balancing of scales (lines 71-4) say about this world?
The battle scene is full of innuendoes; can you see this at work in lines 75-86?
The poem ends with a view of the nighttime sky. Looking back, you’ll see that near the beginning of each canto is an indication of the time of day. What time is it in each case, and what overall temporal pattern is established?


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