"The Rape of the Lock"



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“The Rape of the Lock”

Cantos IV-V



Canto IV
Anaphorarepetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of word groups occurring one after another.
Lines 3 – 8 “Not youthful Kings…Not ardent lovers…Not ancient Ladies…Not Tyrants fierce
Line 8 – Cynthia – another name for the goddess Diana, goddess of chastity
Umbriel – dark spirit, “a melancholy Sprite”
“Down to the Central Earth” – the underworld, hell

“Cave of Spleen” – melancholy, low spirits

Contrasted with the light of the previous cantos
Contrast of colour – black and white, mornings, nights, and noons
Lines 31 – 38 Belinda is in despair
Allusion – line 45 – Elysian Scenes – the heaven of Roman mythology
Lines 50 – 54 Hallucinations – psychologically disturbed often believed they changed into things
Line 56 – spleenwort – olive branch (peace offering)

Anaphoralines 72-75
Belinda is up to something – allusion to Ulysses’ “bag of wind”

Her “force of female lungs” – she’s preparing to air her sorrows


Line 88 – Thalestris – race of women who cut off their breasts
Belinda’s fury boils over – lines 93-95
She describes the care she took for her hair and her fear that the Baron will display the lock as a prize
Line 109 – “degraded Toast” – a woman who has been toasted for her beauty but then degraded or embarrassed by some event
Sir Plume – stoned acquaintance, uses slangy speech to defend Belinda
Line 131 – the Baron swears the hair is his and will never again be replaced
Line 141-146 – Umbriel the melancholy gnome breaks the vial of tears from the Queen of Spleen and Belinda breaks down into sobs
Belinda isn’t the first to be violated and she won’t be the last
Overly dramatic dialogue – end of Canto IV
Line 161 – ‘Twas this the Morning Omens did foretel

She knew something bad would happen – had a premonition


Line 171 – The Sister-Lock now sits uncouth, alone

Canto V
Jove – Roman name for Zeus (Jupiter)
Lines 5 – 7 “the Trojan could remain,/while Anna begg’d and Dido rag’d in vain”
Allusion – Aeneas, hero of Vergil’s Aeneid, becomes the lover of Carthage’s queen, Dido and her sister Anna pleaded for him to remain in Carthage. Aeneas abruptly left her to continue his sea voyage to Italy.
Line 16 – Unless good Sense preserve what Beauty gains:

Beauty cannot protect us from illness or suffering



Clarissa to Belinda – the moral of the story is revealed in her speech
Line 26 - Beauty must decay, Curl’d or uncurl’d, since Locks will turn to grey
MORAL – Beauty is short lived. Merit wins the soul
Lines 33-34 – Beauties in vain their pretty Eyes may roll;

Charms strike the Sight, but Merit wins the Soul


Lines 37 – To Arms, to Arms – a fight breaks out

Line 40 – whalebones – used to stiffen women’s corsets


43 – 44 No common Weapons in their Hands are found/Like Gods they fight, nor dread a mortal Wound
Athena – goddess of wisdom

Mars – god of war

Latana (Leto) – Mother of Apollo and Artemis
64 - Belinda is furious – “those eyes are made so killing”

She goes after the Baron – line 75


80 – 86 She throws a pinch of snuff in his face to irritate his nose and temporarily blind him – she wants him to suffer as she has suffered.
Line 87 - Belinda draws a pin to attack the Baron
Line 100 - The Baron:

All that I dread, is leaving you behind

Rather than so, ah let me still survive,

And burn in Cupid’s Flames, but burn alive


Line 106 – Allusion to Othello

Not fierce Othello in so loud a Strain

Roar’d for the Handkerchief that caus’d his Pain

But see how oft Ambitious Aims are cross’d

And Chiefs contend ‘till all the Prize is lost
Othello believed his wife to be unfaithful as he found her handkerchief in the possession of another man (the handkerchief had been placed by Iago, who wanted to destroy Othello)
The Lock is raised up by the Sylphs to the heavens “Lunar Sphere” line 113
Belinda’s beauty is preserved for all time in the stars - long after everyone is dead and gone, the Lock will live on
END OF POEM – Pope mocks the vanity of the age

Beauty is more important than substance


Categorization of the mood - Playful, ironic, light satire

Theme of “The Rape of the Lock”
The central theme of The Rape of the Lock is the fuss that high society makes over trifling matters, such as breaches of decorum. In the poem, a feud of epic proportions erupts after the Baron steals a lock of Belinda’s hair. In the real-life incident on which Pope based his poem, the Petre and the Fermor families had a falling-out after Lord Petre snipped off one of Arabella Fermor’s locks. Other themes that Pope develops in the poem include human vanity and the importance of being able to laugh at life’s little reversals. The latter motif is a kind of “moral to the story.” Clarissa touches upon both of these themes when addressing tearful Belinda, shorn of her lock:  

  • But since, alas! frail Beauty must decay, 

  • Curl'd or uncurl'd, since Locks will turn to grey; 

  • Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade, 

  • And she who scorns a Man, must die a Maid

  • What then remains but well our Pow'r to use, 

And keep good Humour still whate'er we lose?

Epic Conventions
Because a mock-epic parodies a classical epic, it uses the same conventions, or formulas, as the classical epic--but usually in a humorous way. For example, a convention of many classical epics is a sea voyage in which perils confront the hero at every turn. In The Rape of the Lock, the sea voyage is Belinda's boat trip up the Thames River. Her guardian sylph, Ariel, sees "black omens" that foretell disasters for Belinda even though the waves flow smoothly and the winds blow gently. Will she stain her dress? Lose her honor or her necklace? Miss a masquerade? Forget her prayers? So frightful are the omens that Ariel summons 50 of his companion spirits to guard Belinda's petticoat, as well as the ringlets of her hair. Following are examples of the epic conventions that Pope parodies:  
Invocation of the Muse: In ancient Greece and Rome, poets had always requested “the muse” to fire them with creative genius when they began long narrative poems, or epics, about godlike heroes and villains. In Greek mythology, there were nine muses, all sisters, who were believed to inspire poets, historians, flutists, dancers, singers, astronomers, philosophers, and other thinkers and artists. If one wanted to write a great poem, play a musical instrument with bravado, or develop a grand scientific or philosophical theory, he would ask for help from a muse. When a writer asked for help, he was said to be “invoking the muse.” The muse of epic poetry was named Calliope [kuh LY uh pe]. In "The Rape of the Lock," Pope does not invoke a goddess; instead, he invokes his friend, John Caryll (spelled CARYL in the poem), who had asked Pope to write a literary work focusing on an event (the snipping of a lock of hair) that turned the members of two families--the Petres and the Fermors--into bitter enemies. Caryll thought that poking fun at the incident would reconcile the families by showing them how trivial the incident was.  
Division of the Poem Into Books or Cantos: The traditional epic is long, requiring several days several days of reading. Dante's Divine Comedy, for example, contains 34 cantos. When printed, the work consists of a book about two inches thick . Pope, of course, presents only five cantos containing a total of fewer than 600 lines. Such miniaturizing helps Pope demonstrate the smallness or pettiness of the behavior exhibited by the main characters in the poem.    
Descriptions of Soldiers Preparing for Battle: In The Iliad, Homer describes in considerable detail the armor and weaponry of the great Achilles, as well as the battlefield trappings of other heroes. In The Rape of the Lock, Pope describes Belinda preparing herself with combs and pins–with "Puffs, Powders, Patches"–noting that "Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms."   
Descriptions of Heroic Deeds: While Homer describes the exploits of his heroes during the Trojan War, Pope describes the "exploits" of Belinda and the Baron during a card game called Ombre, which involves three players and a deck of 40 cards. 
Account of a Great Sea Voyage: In The Odyssey, Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) travels the seas between Troy and Greece, encountering many perils. In The Aeneid, Aeneas travels the seas between Troy and Rome, also encountering perils. In The Rape of the Lock, Belinda travels up the Thames in a boat. 
Participation of Deities or Spirits in the Action: In The Rape of the Lock--as in The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost--supernatural beings take part in the action.  
Presentation of Scenes in the Underworld: Like supernatural beings in classical epics, the gnome Umbriel visits the Underworld in The Rape of the Lock.  


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