Discuss Alexander Pope's 'The Rape Of The Lock' as a 'Mock Heroic Poem'.

2174 Words May 2nd, 2005 9 Pages
One of the finest examples of mock heroic poetry in the English language was composed after John Caryll, a friend of Pope's, informed the poet of an incident regarding two land owning, Catholic families, the Petres & the Fermors. The young lord Petre had cut off a lock of hair from the fashionable society lady Arabella Fermor, and both she and her family had taken offence. Caryll suggested that Pope should 'write a poem to to make a jest of it, and laugh them together again'. The result was the publication of The Rape of the Lock, in May 1712. However due to a favourable reaction, Pope published an expanded version in 1714, containing the card battle, the Cave of Spleen and the major addition of the supernatural elements that pope refers …show more content…
Here the Baron's sacrifice to the heavenly powers is comically reminiscent of the sacrifices and prayers made before battle by epic heroes. Ariel, meanwhile, is concerned at the prospect of impending woe, and summons his 'denizers of air' to heighten the security around Belinda. He commands the squadrons of Sylphs to repair to their various charges, especially to the heroine's mock epic shield:

To fifty chosen Sylphs, of special Note,

We trust th' important Charge the Petticoat.

(117-118)

The variety of disasters ominously threatened is comic in itself but also contains some moral point. The moral and the spiritual, the physical and material, the serious and less serious are comically joined and wittily expressed through the zeugma. They all seem to have the same value, as if to suggest that in Belinda's world there is no proper moral hierarchy or fixed moral certainties. This joining also stresses a serious perspective - the triviality and ridiculing of the beau monde in general in which ethical values are as lasting as the latest fashion, and the characters of the poem in particular, who have allowed a trivial incident to be blown out of proportion (Sanders.2004:294).

Canto 3 discovers our 'heroine and hero' socialising at Hampton court. They play a fashionable game of 'ombre' wittingly conceived as a mock heroic battle within the larger mock epic war in which Belinda is triumphant. The epic parallel serves to put a perspective upon the importance attached to
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