Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Use of the Mock-epic Style in The Rape of the Lock Essay -- Rape Of Th

Use of the Mock-epic Style in The Rape of the Lock "The triumph of the Baron's rape is in exactly the same high language as it would be if he were Hector." In The Rape of the Lock, Pope uses the mock-epic style to satirise the seriousness with which a trivial misdemeanour (the theft of a few strands of hair) and the ways of gender polarised society can be blown beyond all sense of proportion. Thus the male mentality, through the Baron, is portrayed as lacking depth or personality beyond that required to achieve its ends; men objectify and devise "strategems" (4,120) to conquer their female obsessions; they are "victor[s]" (4,162) who self-importantly congratulate themselves as meriting "wreaths of triumph" (4,161) when they have seized what they desire. The Baron claims that the "glorious prize" is his in perpetuity, whilst many conditions which will never be fulfilled ("while fish in streams, or birds delight in air" 4,163) remain unfulfilled. In this satirising of the epic mould such trivial occurrences are substituted in place of truly fantastic possibilities (mighty cities falling, for instance) for the purpose of putting the lock's severing into a more realistic perspective — this is made even more explicit in the following canto (4,8 "[no-one ever] felt such rage, resentment, and despair / as thou, sad virgin! for thy ravished hair" — meaning that perh aps Belinda over-reacts, in Pope's opinion, just ever-so slightly.) He also then reinforces his satire with a broadening of humour, and a stab in the direction of then-popular culture: specifically, "Atalantis" (4,165) was no great enduring writing but a cheap, scandalous work of fiction, "notorious for its thinly concealed allusions to contemporary scandals", pe... ...rder of life.") Obviously the ultimate aim of the poem is to mitigate the severity of the liberty taken in the theft of the lock (as seen in the minds of those involved in the familial dispute.) Mock epic assists Pope in achieving this without being seen to trivialise the assaulted feelings of the victim — the high language and drama of his work accords to the act of the lock's severing a grossly inflated significance, which retains enough of its epic origins not to be viewed as derisive sarcasm. As a satirist Pope is therefore presenting for the appraisal of his readership the notion that the loss of the lock does not deserve the intensity of ill-feeling which has resulted from it. BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Norton Anthology of English Literature 6th Edition, Volume 1, 1993 A Choice Of Pope's Verse, edited by Peter Porter, Faber & Faber, 1971

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