The Rape of the Lock as a Mock Heroic or Mock Epic Poem The epic is a narrative poem, of supposed divine inspiration, treating of a subject of great and momentous importance for mankind, the characters of the story being partly human and partly divine, and the language and style in which the incidents are related being full of elevation and dignity. The rape of the lock The Rape of the Lock is an outstanding mock- epic in the English Literature written by Alexander Pope. According to these Gentlemen, the four Elements are inhabited by Spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders. The Gnomes or Dæmons of Earth delight in ; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable. The theme of the poem is suggested in the invocation, as in an epic poem, but the theme is ridiculously trivial, in comparison with the grand theme of an epic. The myth of the sylphs is of the utmost importance to Pope: it allows him to show his awareness of the absurdities of a point of view which, nevertheless, is charming, delightful, and filled with a real poetry.
The action of The Rape of the Lock turns on a trivial incident—the cutting off a lock of hair from a lady's head. The Rape of the Lock is a rare instance in which the slight theme is given an exalted treatment for satirical purposes. So it is the machinery which empowers Pope, in different courses, to make the mock epic impact. The Rape of the Lock, on the other hand, gives us a picture of a fashionable society. They are not merely mock-epic elements, nor are they merely instruments of satire on the aristocracy; they also bring out fine passages of poetry from Pope. So protected, Belinda arrives at Hampton Court and is invited to play a game of. They attend on her when she plays Ombre.
We miss the whole point if we regard the sylphs as merely supernatural machinery. He emphasizes the inanity of discriminating so closely between things and people that are essentially the same in all important and even most unimportant respects. He goes on to say that the machinery in this poem is based on the Rosicrucian doctrine of spirits in which the four elements are inhabited by sylphs, nymphs, gnomes and salamanders. It allows Pope to show his awareness of the absurdities which nevertheless is charming, delightful and filled with a real poetry. The Rosicrucians were a medieval secret society that practiced and dabbled in Middle Eastern philosophy. The best account I know of them is in a French book called , which both in its title and size is so like a novel, that many of the fair sex have read it for one by mistake.
It imparts splendour and wonder to the actors and the actions in the story. They attend on her when she plays Ombre. Their functions are described humorously including saving the powder from being blown off from the cheeks of ladies, preventing scents from evaporating, preparing cosmetics, teaching the ladies to blush and to put on enchanting airs, suggesting new ideas about dress. These gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and nymphs, in turn, are associated with the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. They improve the literary mockery, and they also improve the human mockery. The size of these tiny spirits is also very important. The gnomes or earth spirits fill the minds of proud maidens with foolish ideas of being married to lords and peers.
Bettoni — via Google Books. The machinery of his poem comprises the sylphs led by Ariel. They hover around her when she sips coffee. Pope and the Rape of the Lock The Rape of the Lock had its origins in an actual, if trivial, incident in polite society: in 1711, the twenty-one year old Robert, Lord Petre, had, at Binfield,surreptitiously cut a lock of hair from the head of the beautiful Arabella Fermor, whom he had been courting. Machinery serves various purposes in the poem. Belinda is told in a dream that sylphs guide and protect her through the dangers of life.
Correspondence of Alexander Pope, Oxford University Press, 1956, I, 201. They have been warned by Ariel to remain alert and vigilant. When she demands that he restore the lock, however, it is nowhere to be found. A maid would fall to Florio if Demon were not at hand to divert her attention. The sylphs were added to the poem not simply as shinning trinkets and three-penny bits to a Christmas pudding but to develop and flavour the whole.
It allows Pope to show his awareness of the absurdities which nevertheless is charming, delightful and filled with a real poetry. Yet the tone already indicates that the high seriousness of these traditional topics has suffered a diminishment. Ariel offers a satanic substitute for Christianity. The poem is divided into Cantos like an epic poem, and there are ironic parallels to the main Incidents of the epic. Ariel tells us in the poem that to him and his followers has been assigned the humble but pleasant duty of serving fashionable young ladies. Finding her dejected in the arms of the woman Thalestris, Umbriel pours the contents over them both.
As indicated by this mythology, the four components are occupied by spirits, which are called sylphs air , dwarves earth , sprites water , and lizards fire. The myth also allows him to suggest that the charm, in part at least, springs from the very absurdity. These aerial spirits are small and insignificant things, and are, therefore, exactly in keeping with the triviality of the theme. Homer and Virgil had much relied on Olympian deities, still Milton made use of the angelic hierarchy. Then there is the battle between the lords and ladies just like the battles in epic poetry. ImagesThe movement was born amid the economic depression of 1837—38, when high unemploymentand the effects of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 were felt in all parts of Britain. The machinery of sylphs in this poem is vastly superior to the allegorical personages of Boileau and Garth in their respective mock-epics, Le Lutrin and The Dispensary.