Literary Analysis of "The Rape of the Lock" Essays

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Author and his times: Alexander Pope was born in London in 1688. Because he was a Roman Catholic living in a predominately Protestant society, he was largely excluded from the university system and therefore was self-taught, for the most part. At the age of twelve, he contracted tuberculosis, a disease that left him stunted and misshapen. Consequently, he suffered a great deal of emotional trauma and social anxiety. His only tool for interaction was his incredible wit and talent for writing. He soon formed a number of lifelong friendships in London's prestigious literary circles, and found his happiness there. Pope is probably the most famous writer from the Age of Reason, and his works are the most widely studied form this time …show more content…
Characters: The characters in this short poem are all intentionally made to be flat, as this would add to the satire of their elite society. They are almost too ridiculous and absurd to be believable, yet history proves that these people really existed. There is no clear protagonist, although Belinda is the main character.

-Belinda is the incredibly superficial, typical Belle. She is young and beautiful, and adored for her looks by all who behold her. "Fair Nymphs, and well-drest Youths around her shone, but ev'ry eye was fixed on her alone."(II, 5-6) The most grave concern in her petty life is her performance in a silly card game and her social engagements.

-The Baron was also a member of the elite society, and is portrayed as a fickle, foppish kind of man with too little to do. :He had implor'd Propitious Heav'n, and ev'ry Pow'r ador'd, but chiefly Love--to Love an altar built..."(II, 35-37) in order to insure the success of his "rape" of Belinda's lock. Immediately before this he had built a pyre sacrificing all the "trophies of his former loves." This was done to show what a fickle and affected man he is.

-"The Machinery" in the poem refers to all the nymphs, sylphs, gnomes, and other supernatural beings who aid of terrorize the characters. Sylphs are the most common. They are ageless and can assume either sex whenever they please. Their purpose is to protect the chastity of fair young Belle's like Belinda. The
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