The Rape of the Lock Essay

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The Rape of the Lock Pope's portrayal of Belinda and her society in 'The Rape of the Lock' This Lock, the Muse shall consecrate to Fame, And mid'st the Stars inscribe Belinda's Name! In 'The Rape of the Lock' Alexander Pope (1688-1744) employs a mock-epic style to satirise the 'beau-monde' (fashionable world, society of the elite) of eighteenth century England. The richness of the poem, however, reveals more than a straightforward satirical attack. Alongside the criticism we can detect Pope's fascination with, and perhaps admiration for, Belinda and the society in which she moves. Pope himself was not part of the 'beau-monde'. He knew the families on which the poem is based but his own parents, though probably comfortably off,…show more content…
Think not, when Woman's transient Breath is fled, That all her Vanities at once are dead: Succeeding Vanities she still regards, And tho' she plays no more, o'erloks the Cards. Her Joy in gilded Chariots, when alive, And Love of Ombre, after Death survive. For when the Fair in all their Pride expire, To their first Elements their Souls retire: [l.51-9] We might expect this part, the deepest and most essential part of her being, the 'first Elements', to be her soul, but in Belinda's case it is her 'Vanities', her 'Joy in gilded Chariots' and her 'Love of Ombre', suggesting that her soul consists of nothing more that vanity and a love of pleasure. Belinda's vanity is seem to take the form of religious devotion in the passage describing her morning toilette. And now, unveil'd, the Toilet stands display'd, Each Silver Vase in mystic Order laid. First, rob'd in White, the Nymph intent adores With Head uncover'd, the Cosmetic Pow'rs. A heav'nly Image in the Glass appears, To that she bends, to that her Eyes she rears; [l.121-6] The ironic transposition of 'cosmic powers' in 'Cosmetic Pow'rs' indicates the excessive value she attributes to her make-up, and bowing to her own image shows her devotion to her religion of narcissism. The passage is a mock version of the arming of the epic hero, her weaponry of cosmetics being ridiculed by the implicit comparison with the swords and shields of the epic hero. The passage includes a mock
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