The Rape of the Lock – Does Pope Painting Belinda as a Goddess?

The Rape of the Lock portrays the trendy world of the early eighteenth century London, and its title web page describes it as a heroic-comical poem. Pope remarks that “using pompous language for low actions is the perfection of the mock-epic.” The mock-heroic is singularly efficient in exposing the follies of the trendy society with out betrayal of rancour.

Lord Petre had, in an amorous prank, lower off a lock of hair of a society magnificence, Miss Arabella Fermor, to her nice indignation. Out of this trivial incident, Pope makes an epic with Invocation, supernatural equipment, battles, and different epic paraphernalia. The Invocation is the standard epic deal with to the Muse

Say, what unusual motive, Goddess! Might compel

A well-bred lord to assault a mild belle.

What was merely a social frivolity has acquired the lofty notice of a classical epic. The slight digress being that whereas the world of epic poems was predominantly masculine, the world of the mock-epic The Rape of the Lock is female. The setting is the trendy London society of the Augustan Age. The heroine, who’s a kind slightly than a illustration of Miss Fermor herself, is Belinda.

Her day beginning at round midday, provides the poem its primary construction – her dream earlier than waking, her rest room, her cruise up the Thames to Hampton Court docket, her card sport, the outrageous clipping of her lock of hair, her hysterics, and the ultimate battle to recuperate the lock.

Belinda is repeatedly in comparison with the solar. This implies her brilliance and sweetness because the central and focus of her little world. It additionally suggests basic munificence on her half, as a result of, just like the solar, her eyes “shine on all alike”. It means both that she is shallow and flirtatious, or that she distributes her largess impartially like a terrific prince.

The exaltation of Belinda into one thing greater than mortal can be seen when she is at her rest room, which seems to parody a non secular ritual. The dressing desk is a form of altar on which the beauty pots are set out like sacred vessels. At first, Belinda the nymph is sort of a priestess, robed in white worshipping the “beauty powers” as she bends to her varied objects of make-up. Then it’s her personal “heavenly picture” within the mirror which turns into the goddess, the item of her idolatrous worship. Lastly, Belinda herself is unabashedly known as a “goddess”, arming for battle.

There’s a comedian component within the elevation of the make-up course of into a non secular ceremony, and the ridiculous conglomeration of the objects on the dressing desk

“Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux”.

In Belinda’s scale of values the objects (together with Bibles) are of about equal significance. Clearly there’s a social criticism right here, however there’s additionally a way of fascination and, certainly, admiration for Belinda.

Belinda is, in some sense, a goddess, the personification of Magnificence. And, consistent with this view, her ravished lock attains immortality by being remodeled right into a shining star within the heavens. But, at a lot of locations she is lower than a goddess, inasmuch as she is topic to human limitations. Thus, she fails to foresee and to predict the ravishment of her lock, and likewise fails to recuperate her lock even after her victory within the battle. Furthermore, she is topic to previous age and loss of life like mortals, although she is promised poetic immortality by Pope. Belinda’s standing, as as to whether she has been portrayed as a goddess or not, is ambiguous, and the query admits of no categorical reply.

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