Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope Essay

596 Words 3 Pages
Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock is not studied and admired only because of its style and form, but also for its base content and underlying themes. Pope's ability to manipulate text into mock-heroic form, constructing a flow of satirical description is what makes this poem one of such quality.
The piece was first published in 1712 by the request of Pope's friend, John Caryll. It was to make peace between the Fermors and Petres, two prominent Roman Catholic families at the time. The feud was supposedly caused by an incident at a card game that ended with Lord Petre cutting a lock from the hair of lovely Arabella Fermor. Caryll had hoped that Pope wrote a poem that would sooth the tempers
…show more content…
Pope's over exaggeration of Belinda's preparation accomplishes his intended goal of revealing how worthless he believes these duties to be.
It is also necessary to discuss the fact that Pope seems to realize that the extreme vanity is caused by his own gender. If Belinda's preparations are not for her male acquaintances, then why? Speaking through Clarissa, Pope allows the reader to take a step away from satire with a taste of sensibility, "How vain are the Glories, all our Pains, / Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains…." (N. 1) Here the author seems to be pushing for a lack of shallowness in the opposite sex.
Using The Rape of the Lock, Pope has criticized and attempted to explain the problem he himself sees in society's view of women and women's view of themselves. It is also apparent that he has attempted to understand the situation. Pope reveals a hint of sensitivity within the maze of critical satire:

Nature to your undoing arms mankind With strength of body, artifice of mind; But gives your feeble sex, made up of fears, No guard but virtue, no redress but tears. Yet custom (Seldom to your favour gain'd) Absolves the virgin when by force constrain'd….(N. 1)

Is the author searching for female readers to appreciate his sensitivity, or more likely, looking for some realization from his male peers? The Rape of the Lock can be, and has been, examined on
Open Document