The Rape of the Lock as a social satire/ picture of contemporary society

Introduction: Alexander Pope (1688-1744), his famous mock heroic poem, depicts the contemporary situation in of 16th century England. He has shown in the poem that the people of English used to high luxury life. He has done the criticises of the women at that time of century. We will discuss about the contemporary of England.  

Frivolous Ladies: Belinda is the heroine in the poem. She is a complex character. Undoubtedly, she is a representative of the upper class woman of the eighteen century. There is not the slightest of seriousness, goddesses or grandeur of human life any of her words and actions. Actually, Belinda is beautiful lady; she has a host of admirers; she is flirt and a coquette.  

“Favours to none, to all she Smiles extends. Oft she rejects, but never she offends

Behaviour and Activity: Dreaming of their rich prospect, Women like Belinda sleep late and are used to Rising late from their beds, and pope discusses it beautifully equating the beast with the beauty. 

“Now Lap dogs give themselves the rowzing shake” 

And also Belinda goes to sleep again and when she finally does awake she is engaged immediately with her toilette takes up a large part of her time. 

The toilette, in fact, is the great business of her life, and the right adjustment of her hair, the decoration of her face, the chief employment of her time. 

Read More: The supernatural elements of the poem The Rape of the Lock

Places and Names of the Day: In canto iii of The Rape of the Lock, pope gives a detailed description of the scene where Belinda’s beautiful lock of hair to be raped.  There is Hampton Court, the palace of the English Queen beautiful situated on the banks of the river Thames, where 

“Here Britain’s Statesman oft, the Fall foredoom or Foreign Tyrants and, of Nymphs at home,” 

Irrelevant story:  

The poet in very subtle manner satirizes the activities of the palace. The Queen’s consultations with her ministers and her taking tea with the luminaries of her regime are equated. The serious and the frivolous have been mentioned in one breath, as if taking counsel is as routine and frivolous matter as taking tea. The intrigues of the court are also laid bare.  The Queen’s palace,  Hampton Court, which is  beautifully laid out with “long  canals” and “ Woods” turns out to be a mere place for gossip and intrigue where the nobles and ladies  

“In various Talk th’ instructive hours they Pass, who gave the Ball, or paid the visit last”. 

Hollowness of the Gentleman of the Day. The gentleman of the smart set are as frivolous as the ladies. Lord Petre and his fellows are the representatives of the fashionable society time.  They are all idle, empty- minded folk and seem to have nothing else to do but making love or flirting with ladies. 

 Pope’s criticism and moral tone: The Rape of the lock bears fully the witticism of its age. In his conception of the theme and selection of title, pope display his unsurpassable wit. The theme of the poem is rape of the lock of a fashionable belle by one of her haughty admirers. He has shown that the Belinda. She wakes up when Belinda’s dog licks her cheek.  She gets dressed and goes to the club to play cards. 

“So much so that Shock, her lap-dog, Leapt and, and wak’d his mistress with his Tongue. “

Conclusion: From all above discussion we can say that Alexander Pope has highlighted contemporary society in his poem. Although, he has done to criticizes bout behaviour of man of England and daily routine in the poem.  

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Ruhul Huda
Ruhul Huda

You can call me Mr. Huda. I am a researcher and doing this work for years. I like to learn everywhere. So, feel free to share your experience with me.

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