“The Rape of the Lock”—Alexander Pope

The Rape of the Lock
by Alexander Pope
About Alexander Pope
※Born in a Catholic
Suffered from
Educated in
About Alexander Pope
※Moved to Binfield in 1700
Self-taught: “did nothing but read and
Suffered from ill health: tuberculosis,
asthma, and headaches
About Alexander Pope
※Moved to Binfield
in 1700
Humpbacked and
About Alexander Pope
※Published An Essay on Criticism
in 1711
First striking success as a poet
※ Made friends with Jonathan Swift
and John Gay
About Alexander Pope
※Published an early version of “The
Rape of the Lock” in 1712 (two
A funny battle between sexes and
follies of a young lady
About Alexander Pope
※ Expanded “The Rape
of the Lock” in 1714
(five cantos)
A quarrel between
two families
◎ Characters:
Lord Petre :Baron
Miss Arabella Fermor:
About Alexander Pope
John Caryll’s suggestion to “pour poetic
oils on these troubled waters” or
Hope that “a little laughter might serve to
soothe ruffled tempers.”
◎ Pope’s purpose:
Do not worry about trivial things!
About Alexander Pope
※Translated Iliad
and Odyssey into
The first man to
prove “Literature can
raise writers.”
About Alexander Pope
※Published The Dunciad in 1728
Became professional satirist
“Sleepless themselves to give their
readers sleep”
About Alexander Pope
※ Died on May 30, 1744
The “Age of Pope” ended
Canto 1
 Belinda awakes from sleeping
 The dream of Belinda
 Belinda prepares for the day’s
social activities
Canto 2
The travel on the Thames river
The prayer of the young adventurer Baron
The Sylphs’ mission to “tend the Fair”—to
protect Belinda
Brillante—the earrings
Chrispissa—the locks
Ariel—Shock, Belinda’s lapdog
Momentilla—the watch
fifty chosen Sylphs—the petticoat
Canto 3
The game of cards—ombre
The rape of the lock
Canto 4
Belinda’s Ill-Natured mood and
Affection after the loss of the lock
Umbriel, the earthy gnome,
descends to the Cave of Spleen
Thalestris’ speech rouses the rage
of Belinda
Sir Plume bids in vain the payment
of the lock
Canto 5
Clarissa’s speech
The battle of belles and beaux
The lock rises to the heaven and
becomes a star
Writing Style
Mock epic
Epic, the Characteristics
A long narrative poem
Elevated, grand style
Great heroes and heroines
The setting is vast in
geographical range
Supernatural power
Epic Conventions
The theme is usually the adventure
of a hero or a war.
Invocate the Muse’s aid. (Calliope)
Ask epic question(s).
Begin with in medias res.
Use epithets and similes.
Gods’ interference in human affairs.
Mock Epic
A work designed to ridicule attitudes,
style, or subject matter by handling
either an elevated subject in a trivial
manner or a low subject with mock
dignity (Karl 30).
Renders a trivial subject ridiculous by
treating it with the elaborate (Karl 31).
Compare small things with something
Epic/ Mock Epic
Traditional Epic
The Rape of the Lock
“ Say what strange
Invoke the aid of
motive, Goddess!
the muse: Calliope
Could compel” (1. 7)
Begin with in
medias res
Spirits (Sylphs,
Gods are involved Gnomes, Nymphs…)
are involved
The Epic Question
1 What dire offense from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
“Among the
gods, who
brought this
quarrel on?”
7 Say what strange motive, Goddess! Could compel
A well-bred lord to assault a gentle belle?
Oh, say what stranger cause, yet unexplored,
Could make a gentle belle reject a lord?
In tasks so bold can little men engage,
And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?
Homeric Simile
“Achilles, fast in
battle as a lion.”
“Quick as her eyes” (2. 10),
“Bright as the sun” (2. 13),
“Hera, whose
“Shrink his thin essence
arms are white as like a riveled flower” (2.
“And falls like thunder on
the prostrate Ace” (3. 98).
Homeric Epithet
“Fair nymphs, and welldress'd youths around her
shone” (2. 5)
“The long-contended
honours of her head”
“Why round our coaches
crowd the white-glov'd
beaux?” (5. 13).
Heroic couplet
Rhymed in every two lines.
Iambic pentameter
Ten syllables in each line
Alternate with stressed and
unstressed syllables
Mock Epic
Journey to the
The Cave of Spleen (ill
nature of female
hypochondriacs) (4. 1)
Sacrifice offering to gods Baron sacrifices his
before an important war former love-token. (2.35)
or journey
Mock Epic
Cliches, frowns and angry
glances, snuff and bodkin.
“So spoke the dame, “ (5. 35).
The card game (Ombre).
Rape of the female
Rape of a lock of hair