Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Structure of The Rape of the Lock

I was really interested in the structure of the "Rape of the Lock" and found another example of the the rhymes not lining up all the time. I thought it was really interesting about the different meanings from the one poem in class today involving war. At the end of Canto II, there is an example of the rhythm shift. "He spoke; the Spirits from the Sails descend;/some, Orb in Orb, around the Nymph extend,/Some thrid the mazy Ringlets of her Hair,/Some hand upon the Pendants of her Ear;/With beating Hearts the dire Event they wait,/Anxious, and trembling for the birth of Fate." (the stanza before Canto II) There is definetly an emphasis on the lady's appearance and since the rhythm changes, the reader notices this fact. The capitalization of Hair, Ringlets, Pendants, and Ear add to the discussion on beauty. Once again I notice the scarcastic attitude once again. It seems like he has an ironic tone concerning the amount of time and lady spend on their appearance and attire! After looking at several images in class today, I completely understand why he would find it humorous!


  1. I think Pope did indeed mean for us to laugh at Belinda and her world, but is there room in the poem for more serious considerations? Your point about the continual return to war and military imagery is suggestive: is Pope just being playful (referencing the epic tradition, etc.) or does he want us to think more seriously about the violence perpetrated on women's bodies by the society they inhabit? The same question might be asked of Swift's satire....

  2. The relationship between war and the violence perpetrated on women's bodies during this time is an interesting one, and I think it is highlighted by the relationship between Pope's "Rape of the Lock" and Finch's "The Bird and the Arras". Although women like Belinda primped and were incredibly vain, I don't think one can argue that they would not choose to wear corsets that often break their ribs if women were able to choose the ideal image of beauty. With this in mind, the images of war and the conflict between Belinda's right to personal space/freedom of decision and the Lord who believes he can take what he desires indicates that Pope is commenting upon the gender struggle of his time. This is highlighted by Finch's poem which we all agreed was an allegory for the subjugation of women; Finch imagery, "the dash'd Cealing strikes her to the ground," utilizes an actively aggresive verb and mirrors Pope's mock epic.

  3. I completely agree with what you are saying Celina. However, I don't think Pope's intention was to highlight the gender struggle of his time as much as he wants to highlight materiality in this culture. The emphasis on the material things that were used to embellish both men and women is what really matters in this poem.