Essay, Research Paper
Alexander Popes The Rape of the Lock – Write a 3-page critique of Alexander Pope s The Rape of the Lock. Give Examples. – Alexander Pope Rape Lock Comparison Epic Battle Traits Mock Characterization
Pope, author of the mock epic “The Rape of the Lock”, employs many features used in the classical epics, such as Milton s “Paradise Lost”. Pope uses the epic battle, the epic description of the weapon, the epic catalogue, and supernatural characters. The most powerful trait of the classical epic that Pope uses in “The Rape of the Lock” is the epic battle. He uses this tactic throughout the story. The first example is the battle between the sexes; the Baron versus Belinda. This is the common theme throughout the story, and is a good use of the epic battle. Another example of battle in the story is the card game between the Baron versus Belinda. Here, Pope gives us a detailed description of the game, outlining every move, and making the reader feel as if the cards were actually in a war. “An Ace of Hearts steps forth: the king unseen; Lurked in her hand, and mourned his captive Queen,” (pg 2243)Pope also uses the characteristic of “description of the weapon” in his mock epic. In lines 87-96 of Canto 5, the author offers us a complete background of the bodkin that Belinda plans to stab the baron with. “The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew; Then is a bodkin graced her mother s hairs; which long she wore, and now Belinda wears” (pg 2251) Pope uses this technique of “description of the weapon” the same way that classical epic writers had. Pope also uses the catalog in his mock epic. Classical epic writer such as Milton used the catalog to show all the warriors of a battle, or to describe a setting. Pope uses the catalog to do both. “And now, unveiled, the toilet stands displayed; Each silver vase in mystic order laid.” (pg 2237) The author here uses the catalog to describe Belinda s make up stand in her bathroom. Pope uses the catalog again during the card game. During the game, we learn the names of all the different cards that are being played: Matadores, Spadillio, Manillio, Basto, Majesty of Spades, and the rebel Knave. Here, Pope is showing us the “warriors” of the battle, much like Milton showed us the characters involved in the battle in “Paradise Lost”.
Another trait of the classical epic that Pope uses in his mock epic is the use of the supernatural. The classical epic writer, such as Milton, used angels, devils, spirits, and other forms in their writing. Pope also uses the supernatural in his mock epic. “All but the Sylph with careful thoughts oppressed; The impending woe sat heavy on his breast.” (pg 2239) The Sylphs were creatures of the air, the souls of dead coquettes, with tasks appropriate to their nature. Another supernatural figure are the Gnomes, who delight in mischief and were thought to be prudes while on earth. “The Gnomes direct, to every atom just; The pungent grains of titillating dust.” (pg 2251) The Gnomes help direct the grains of snuff into the baron s nose. This mock epic has several traits of the classical epic, such as the epic battle, the description of the weapon, a catalog, and supernatural characters. Pope uses these traits skillfully in trivializing the matter of the lock of hair.