THE RAPE OF THE LOCK: A BRIEF STUDY
Alexander Pope is one of the greatest poets of England. The Rape of the Lock is his masterpiece. It is one of the best compositions of English language. It is popular for its theme and style. In short, this composition is a classic of drawing room society.
Pope was a great satirist. He used poetry as a great instrument of moral improvement. The Rape of the Lock is completely satirical. As a satirist Pope directed his satire against all classes of people. He boldly satirized corruption in high places. He never spared those who indulged in corruption, vices and evils.
Pope used mock epic style to make his satire powerful. The Rape of the Lock is its best example. As we know that the theme of this poem is the cutting of a lock of a lady’s hair. It is a trivial theme, no doubt. There is nothing heroic in it. But Pope has given this trivial theme the dignity and exaltation and epic treatment. To present this trivial theme Pope has employed nearly all the important elements of epic. Here we find invocation, episodes, supernatural machinery and grand style.
Pope’s The Rape of the Lock is an excellent and amazing satire on the social life of the 18th century England. In this mock heroic poem the satirist has vehemently satirized feminine frivolity. He has remarked that, ‘Every woman at heart is a rake.’ He has showed that all women are frivolous. Their chief interest is in love- making. Not only has this but Pope emphatically mocked at the fashion, frivolities and gaieties of women of his time. He has exposed the trivialities of fashionable life and the vagaries of the feminine mind. Through the character of Belinda, Arabella Fermor, Pope has criticized the whole of the female sex.
In The Rape of the Lock Pope vehemently satirizes the fashionable life of the ladies of his age. Everywhere the emptiness is visible beneath the outward splendour. Like Belinda the fashionable ladies of Pope’s age lay in their beds till late in the day. Lap dogs were their favourites. These lap dogs lay with their mistress in their beds. These ladies were fond of cosmetics. They visited fashionable spots and indulged in dance, music and love making. Tea and coffee were their favourite drinks. In short, coquetry was an important part of their lives.
Pope has not spared even the fashionable men of this age. Chivalry was dead. They attempted to win by fair or foul means. Baron’s act of cutting Belinda’s lock of hair is an example. The men were fops with no brains. They took interest in chasing, love making, drinking and gambling.
Thus The Rape of the Lock is an excellent piece of work by a giant literary figure. It presents a faithful but satirical picture of the social life of the 18th century England. The mock-epic style has made this poem immortal.
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