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Rape Of The Lock Essay

1191 words - 5 pages

Alexander Pope?s Rape of the Lock is a satirical mock-epic poem written with the hope of extinguishing a feud between two aristocratic families through laughter. In 1711, the twenty-one year old Robert, Lord Petre (The Baron), had deviously cut a lock of hair from the head of the beautiful Arabella Fermor (Belinda), whom he had been courting. Fermor took offense, and a quarrel developed between the two families. Pope writes of a beautiful woman named Belinda, whose precious lock of hair is taken from her because she is so vain. Belinda victimizes herself through her vanity, which Pope shows is his portrayal of her actions to prepare for the day. Belinda also victimizes herself by closing her ears to her guardian Sylphs, who repeatedly warn her of the danger that lies ahead.Webster Dictionary defines vain as ? one who is excessively proud of or concerned about one?s own appearance or achievements.? With that definition in mind, one may view Belinda as vain. There are many instances where Pope exemplifies Belinda?s vanity. As a result of being vain, she victimizes herself through her beauty. Pope wants us to recognize that it is partly because she has been educated and trained to act in this way. He expresses her magnificent beauty through a comparison that her eyes eclipse the sun. He reverently describes her morning rituals before the mirror in the following lines: ?A heavenly image in the glass appears/To that she bends to that her eyes she rears?(1:125-6). Belinda is transfixed by her own reflection, and captivated by her god-like beauty. She becomes a victim of the spell that her appearance weaves over others. Pope also uses Belinda as an example of humorous vanity, because no levelheaded women would indulge in such energy for their physical appearance. His portrayal of Belinda at her dressing table introduces mock-heroic motifs that run throughout the poem. The scene of her toilette is rendered first as a religious sacrament, in which Belinda herself is the priestess and her image in the looking glass is the Goddess she serves. Combs, pins and cosmetics take the place of weapons: ?Now awful beauty puts on all its arms?(2:139).He describes Belinda?s beauty as something divine, an asset, which she herself substantiates, in the first canto when she creates, at least metaphorically, an altar of her own image. This image also depicts her as a victim, because she wastes all day in creating such physical beauty. Pope treats her like a goddess descended from a heavenly realm, but to the readers Pope illustrates the total opposite by using a sarcastic tone when describing her beauty. He even goes so far as to say that her vanity will outlive her body: Think not when women?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 glided chariots, when alive And love of ombre, after death survives (1:51-56).Another example of her vainness is at the...

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