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The Rape of the Lock Essay

The Rape of the Lock is an outstanding mock- epic in the English Literature written by Alexander Pope. It is considered a humorous poem, as well as a combination of the classical models of epic and satire. Since the poem is based on an actual incident among Pope’s acquaintances, he is persuaded to write the story to mock his friends so they do not take the situation too seriously. Besides, the author focuses on the upper class in London, which seems to have lost the value of important matters. First of all, it can be said that the upper-class characters portrayed in The Rape of the Lock, especially Belinda, are mocked because it seems that they are narrow-minded as regards their ideas about the society where they live and they do not take into consideration important subjects.

In the poem, Belinda is so concerned about her beauty that when the Baron cuts a lock of her hair she gets furious: “Then flashed the living lightnings from her eyes, / And screams of horror rend the affrighted skies.”(canto 3, lines 155-156). Belinda feels frustrated not only because she is humiliated in public, but also because being beautiful in that society means power. Her anger can be related to the fact that ladies used to devote much time to their beauty, spending hours at the dressing table; the “altar’s site,”(1.127).

Apart from that, dancing and playing cards were major events to win the heart of a gentleman. Similarly, men had no concern with significant matters either as they were interested in being powerful, getting more money and flirting with ladies. The Baron, for example, the male character in the poem, feels victorious when he cuts Belinda’s lock: “`Let wreaths of triumph now my temples twine,´ / (The victor cried); `the glorious prize is mine!”(3.161-162).

As the characters focus on trivial matters as if they are truly meaningful, their flaws and weaknesses are exposed in the poem. By means of exaggeration, the author pretends to make the readers laugh at their own defects to moralize some ideas in society. The pair of scissors given to The Baron by Clarissa is referred as “A two-edged weapon”(3.128) to make fun of the situation. In addition, the fact that Belinda’s hair is cut is not a serious incident but she is in despair since it is her valuable possession.

In the poem, Clarissa states that although “frail beauty must decay, / Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to gray,” (5. 25-26), it is important to keep a sense of humor. Similarly, The Baron is quite extravagant and exhibits a childlike behavior when taking revenge that he clearly proclaims: “So long my honor, name, and praise shall live!” (3.170). It is possible to observe that he is not able to accept the fact that he has been defeated in a game by a girl. Apart from that, the card game between Belinda and The Baron is perceived as a real battle between two armies, with “halberds in their hand” (3.42).

As a conclusion, it is clearly shown in the poem how society has lost the ability to value what is really important in life. It seems that the characters cannot decipher between serious events and insignificant ones. The rape of Belinda’s lock of hair, for instance, is an unimportant incident since she could have experienced a worse situation. Moreover, it is worth analyzing this poem as it reflects how ridiculous any society can be when it takes into account events, which do not really matter in life. Individuals should open their eyes to be able to value simple things that happen in our daily lives.


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