In classic literature it is considered a sin to think too highly of yourself, having too much pride or vanity would lead to feelings of dislike by people of your class. The reason you would be disliked is because your peers will get annoyed with you. In “The Rape of the Lock,” by Alexander Pope, he takes that distaste and annoyance toward people to a whole new level. In this now classic new twist on epic poetry, it’s timeless characters can be anyone from any time period.
Pope’s version of epic poem is a very welcome twist to an old classic. He took the original traits of the poem and revamped it to become his own.
The Rape of the Lock is a poem in which things, not people, are the heroes. The diminution of the human, made ridiculous through stylistic aggrandizement, is integral to the poem's mock-heroic effect. Yet if these things "operate almost without human agency" so that people "become objects”(Crehan,2)
The reason this poem is so different and grabbed the attention of so many is because it took the plain old hero fighting battles to save a kingdom to having the hero being the outside force, the Sylphs, controlling the humans to do their biding and to teach everyone a lesson. Some aspects though are still kept the same like any other epic poem, the couplets and the beat of the rhyme scheme. It is much shorter then the epic poem “Beowulf,” but it still is written in the same way. Pope’s poem consists of five couplets in the new version that he published in 1717 when he added Carlissia’s good humor speech. (1136)
Vanity in the eightieth century was something seen a lot in women of the upper class, who believed that they were the most beautiful creatures that anyone would ever lay their eyes on. In this tale, that creature is Belinda. She thinks everyone is in love with her looks and that everyone adores her. For the most part that is true, especially when it come to the opposite sex. However, there are some out there who believe that she needs to be taught a lesson, that looks are not everything.
Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air… Some secret truths, from learned pride concealed…Think not, when woman’s transient breath is fled, That all her vanities at once are dead: Succeeding vanities she still regards, And though she plays no more, o’erlooks the cards. Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, and love of ombre, after death survive (1138-39).
Pope in the first canto uses excellent phrases and play on words to draw you into his poem of the abnormal. When reading any part of the poem it can associate with any time period. It is that style that continues to make the poem still popular today. Right from the beginning it has traits that get you hooked and puts the reader in shock for how selfish and naïve Belinda appears. She gets a warning from Sylphs at the beginning of the tale. It appears in a dream. Dreams are a common in many epic tales, epics haven’t always been in poetry...