What is Epic Machinery in The Rape Of The Lock?

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      In his letter to miss Arabella Fermor Alexander Pope explains 'epic machinery' is a term invented by critics to signify that part of a text which the angles, deities or demons perform. By the term 'machinery' Pope tries to mean that some vital rules shall be performed by the invisible angels and supernatural forces in the poem.

In his letter to miss Arabella Fermor Alexander Pope explains that 'machinery' is a term invented by critics to signify that part of a text which the angles, deities or demons perform.
Alexander Pope

      The philosophy which Alexander Pope has made use of is the Rosicrucian Doctrine of spirits. According to his philosophy the four elements are inhabited by various sorts of spirit, which are known by various names. The spirits of violent and scolding woman become salamander or fire spirits. The spirits of gentle and submissive women become nymphs of the water. The spirits of solemn ladies become gnomes or earth spirit and the spirits of light hearted girls become sylphs or air spirits.

      Alexander Pope has taken this concept of 'Epic Machinery' from the Rosicrucian Doctrine of spirits. At the same time The Rape Of The Lock is modelled after two foreign satire one is Boileau's Le Lutrin, a satire on French clergyman and the other one is La Secchia Raptia.

      Pope has brilliantly use his concept of 'supernatural machinery' in the mock epic. They are the real agents by which all the nonsense female vanities are revealed and they are thoroughly satirized. The spirit including Ariel and his comrades gard and safe the chastity of maidens, who are on the point of yielding to their male lovers. They save these helpless maidens from falling victims to the temptation of false treacherous friends. The spirits are found present at every crucial situation in the poem. Ariel remains the chief angel who always tries to protect the honest chastity of Belinda. When Belinda's precious two locks where just going to be cut down it was at that time those spirits who were hovering around the head of Belinda, tried their best to save and protect Belinda from the crucial clause of scissors.

      The supernatural spirits impart qualities of splendour and wonder to the actions in the story. Like Homer's God's, Pope's sylphs and gnomes move easily in and out to the lower world. They surprised without offending our sense of the probable and they give to the ordinary human impulses concrete form and shape. Thus the supernatural machinery as used by the Pope stands for feminine honour flirtation courtship the necessary rivalry of men and women.

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