Alexander Pope Essay

6204 Words 25 Pages
The Rape of the Lock

Context
Alexander Pope was born in London in 1688. As a Roman Catholic living during a time of Protestant consolidation in England, he was largely excluded from the university system and from political life, and suffered certain social and economic disadvantages because of his religion as well. He was self-taught to a great extent, and was an assiduous scholar from a very early age. He learned several languages on his own, and his early verses were often imitations of poets he admired. His obvious talent found encouragement from his father, a linen-draper, as well as from literary-minded friends. At the age of twelve, Pope contracted a form of tuberculosis that settled in his spine, leaving him stunted and
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After the publication of The Rape of the Lock, Pope spent many years translating the works of Homer. During the ten years he devoted to this arduous project, he produced very few new poems of his own but refined his taste in literature (and his moral, social, and political opinions) to an incredible degree. When he later recommenced to write original poetry, Pope struck a more serious tone than the one he gave to The Rape of the Lock. These later poems are more severe in their moral judgments and more acid in their satire: Pope's Essay on Man is a philosophical poem on metaphysics, ethics, and human nature, while in the Dunciad Pope writes a scathing exposé of the bad writers and pseudo-intellectuals of his day.

Characters
Belinda - Belinda is based on the historical Arabella Fermor, a member of Pope's circle of prominent Roman Catholics. Robert, Lord Petre (the Baron in the poem) had precipitated a rift between their two families by snipping off a lock of her hair.

The Baron - This is the pseudonym for the historical Robert, Lord Petre, the young gentleman in Pope's social circle who offended Arabella Fermor and her family by cutting off a lock of her hair. In the poem's version of events, Arabella is known as Belinda.

Caryl - The historical basis for the Caryl character is John Caryll, a friend of Pope and of the two families that had become
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