Critical Analysis of the "Rape of the Lock" by Pope

1633 Words Feb 19th, 1997 7 Pages
The destruction of the grand style of the epic is just what Pope was after in his mock epic, 'The Rape of the Lock.' Pope had no such universal goal, or moral pronouncements to make as did Milton. His purpose was merely to expose the life of the nobility of his time. While Milton chose blank verse to express the immensity of the landscape of his epic, Pope chose to utilize the heroic couplet to trivialize this grandeur. Pope's quick wit bounces the reader along his detailed description of his parlor-room epic. His content is purposefully trivial, his scope purposefully thin, his style purposefully light-hearted, and therefore his choice of form purposefully geared toward the smooth, natural rhythm of the heroic couplet. The caesura, the …show more content…
The stakes in this mock-heroic epic are Belinda's maidenhood, and the convention of the epic warning comes by way of Ariel's reading of bad omens: 'Late as I ranged the crystal wilds of air,/ In the clear mirror of thy ruling star/ I saw, alas! some dread event impend/ . . . Beware of all, but most beware of Man!' (105-114). Belinda's performance of her toilette, assisted by Betty, her 'inferior priestess' (127), is described as the arming of the epic hero: 'Now awful Beauty put on all its arms' (138), and the images evoked in Pope's description of the various creams and perfumes on Belinda's vanity invests them with a value and exoticism they don't deserve: 'Unnumbered treasures,' 'glittering spoil,' 'India's glowing gems,' 'all Arabia breathes from yonder box,' 'The tortoise here and

elephant unite' (129-135) By means of hyperbole, Pope manages to reveal the true worthlessness of these substances.

Pope advocates the use of concrete, Saxonate words over abstract, Latinate ones in poetry, and offers numerous examples from eighteenth century poetry of how the effect of abstraction is to show a lack
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