The Rape of the Lock Summary
The Rape of the Lock opens with a quick letter from Pope to the poem’s real-life subject, Arabella (“Belle”) Fermor. within the letter, he explains why he wrote the poem within the first place, the circumstances that led him to publish it, and why he dedicates it to Arabella.
With Canto I, the official story begins. Here we meet Belinda, the poem’s beautiful, rich, young society heroine, cuddled up together with her dog in her sumptuous bedroom, just barely awake within the late morning/early afternoon. She’s been having a horny dream during which a handsome, well-dressed young man whispers honeyed words into her ear. We’re off to a rather pleasant start.
We learn that the dream has come from the sylph, Ariel, the airy spirit who watches over her. within the dream, Ariel explains the whole spirit-world of the poem and introduces the sylphs and gnomes who will play important roles within the action afterward. Belinda wakes up fully and rings for her maid, who helps her dress and placed on her makeup for the day. Invisible to the humans, Belinda’s army of attendant sylphs help together with her face, hair, and outfit. As Canto II opens, a resplendent Belinda is during a barge, sailing down the Thames on her thanks to a flowery party at Hampton Court, one among the country residences of the royalty. We learn here that her hairstyle features two curling locks that hang down the rear of her neck. Ariel the sylph makes a speech to all or any of the opposite sylphs, telling them he’s had a premonition that something terrible is close to happening, which they ought to all get on their guard during the party.
The “something terrible” happens in Canto III, which finds Belinda at the party with all of her friends, sipping coffee (a novelty refreshment within the early 1700s, believe it or not) and playing cards called Ombre, which is extremely almost like Hearts. the cardboard game itself is described as a metaphorical battle between Belinda and her opponent, the Baron, who unbeknownst to Belinda is additionally scheming to steal one among her two locks of hair. After Belinda wins the sport, the Baron borrows a pair of scissors from her frenemy, Clarissa. He sneaks up behind her and, despite all of the efforts of Ariel and therefore the Sylphs, snips off the lock.
Canto IV opens with Belinda having an entire hysterical fit about the theft. Pope gives her rage a supernatural source, telling us that Umbriel, a resentful gnome, goes right down to the underworld to select up a bag filled with tears, sobs, and anger, which he then empties over Belinda’s head.
After this, there is no way that Belinda will laugh away the Baron’s prank, albeit Canto V begins with Clarissa trying to inform her to be an honest sport about it. Belinda ignores this recommendation , and starts a fight between herself and her friends, and therefore the Baron and his friends. It’s more of a battle of insults and means looks than a physical throwdown, but plenty of social damage gets done all an equivalent.
Just when it’s like Belinda’s side is winning, we discover that the lock of the hair itself has gone missing. Has all of the drama been for nothing? Nope. The poem concludes with the poet himself claiming the general victory, as he has written this beautiful poem commemorating the loss of the lock—and his poetry chops—for all eternity. Poetry and Pope, instead of vanity and petty quarreling, win within the end.
The Rape of the Lock Analysis
The Rape of the Lock originally published because the Rape of the Lock: An Heroi-Comical Poem 1712, maybe a mock-epic based upon an actual disagreement between two aristocratic English families during the eighteenth century.
Lord Petre (the Baron within the poem) surprises the gorgeous Arabella Fermor (Belinda) by clipping off a lock of hair. At the suggestion of his friend and with Arabella Fermor’s approval, Pope used imagination, hyperbole, wit, and delicate satire to inflate this, trivial social slip-up into an earthshaking catastrophe of cosmic consequence. The poem is usually described together of Pope’s most brilliant satires. The poem makes serious demands upon the reader, not only due to its length but also because it requires a background of epic literature and a few understanding of the trapping of upper-crust England.
“The Rape of the Lock,” constantly shifts between mocking silly social conventions of the aristocracy, (such as elaborate courtship rituals) and satirizing serious literary conventions of traditional epic literature (such as its lofty style, exhaustive descriptions of warriors readying for battle, and heavy doses of mythology). With many allusions to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the speaker compares the loss of Belinda’s hair to the good battles of classic epic literature.
The speaker describes Belinda applying makeup as if she was a warrior getting to battle. While playing a game of cards, the Baron sneaks up behind Belinda and perform the “tragic” snipping of the lock of hair. a military of gnomes and sprites attempts to guard Belinda to no avail. Belinda demands the restoration of her lock and another “battle” ensues. Finally, the lock ascends skyward as a replacement star to beautify the heavens.
“The Rape of the Lock” is that the finest example of a mock-epic in English. The poem’s 794 lines are divided into five cantos or sections. The word “canto” springs from the Latin cantus or song; it originally signified a neighborhood of a narrative poem sung by a minstrel. “The Rape of the Lock” is written in heroic couplets, lines of iambic pentameter, rhyming aa, bb, cc, then forth. the outline “heroic” was first utilized in the seventeenth century due to the frequent use of such couplets in epic poems.
This couplet style was first utilized in English by Chaucer within the Canterbury Tales. Pope was the best master of the metrical and rhetorical possibilities of the heroic couplet; he turned this concise, restrictive form into a dynamic world of ideas and characters.
Pope achieved diversity of favor within the couplet by changing the position of the caesura or line break. He expertly balanced the 2 lines, often employing a slight pause at the top of the primary line and an important stop at the top of the second line. Moreover, he frequently balanced a press release of a thesis and antithesis somewhere within each line, as in these lines from his Essay on Criticism:
Careless of censure nor too keen on fame; Still pleased to praise, yet not afraid to blame; Averse alike to flatter, or offend; Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to fix.
The caesura moves around within each line, sometimes coming after four syllables and sometimes after seven. Moreover, Pope balances a main idea or thesis within each line with a press release of its opposite or antithesis. He displays great ingenuity and wit in his skillful compression of ideas. The structure of “The Rape of the Lock” roughly corresponds thereto of the many epics: an invocation to amuse (Canto I), a conference of the protective gods (Canto II), games and epic banquet (Canto III), the journey into the underworld (Canto IV), and heroic battle and climax (Canto V).
Pope both satirizes and honors the elevated sort of heroic poetry and lots of of its conventions like a proper statement of the theme, the division into cantos, grandiose speeches, challenges, boasts, description of warrior’s battle equipment, warfare, epic similes, and supernatural elements. However, the poem- ridicules the silly social manners of the aristocracy and deflates the elevated sense of importance within the affairs of made ladies and gentlemen.
Yet, the poem also displays some fondness for the grace and wonder of that world. Pope enjoys all the ivory and tortoiseshell, cosmetics and diamonds, expensive furniture, silver coffee service, fancy china, and lightweight conversation— this was the planet during which he moved attempting to seek out patronage for his poetry.