Monday, January 25, 2010

Humor in the Rape of the Lock

Alas! The first two cantos of Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" left me with a sense that we had not gotten to the good part yet. I enjoyed how Pope sets the stage for an epic contest in lines 229-234 with the Baron's resolution to steal a lock of Belinda's hair. Pope's allusions to classical literature produce an appealing parody of the aristocratic portrait of femininity.

Swift's satires provide a stronger impression of the popular fascination with an absurd distortion of feminine beauty in this time period. "Lady's Dressing Room" especially helped clarify this condition by satirizing the incredible facade that a woman must construct each day. This extreme emphasis on appearance accentuates Pope's comedy. In many ways, "The Rape of the Lock" resembles "The Small-Pox" in expressing the inflated value of the woman's appearance. I think that these authors attempt to show that the social norms have disgraced both the essence of a woman's exterior beauty and her true value as a human person.

1 comment:

  1. If by the good part you mean the snipping of the Lock, read on to the end of Canto III!