The Baron: (Lord Petre) Character in The Rape of The Lock

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      Introduction. The role of the Baron, the seventh Lord Petre, and whose name is Robert, is not so important as that of Belinda. He is regarded the hero as Belinda is the heroine of the poem. The part that he plays in the poem is short but significant. The main focus, however, is on Belinda and incidentally falls on the Baron.

      Representative of The Aristocracy of the Eighteenth Century. The Baron is the representative of the chivalrous gentleman and fops of the age. He is an embodiment of gaiety and freedom. He is wealthy, with a lot of time for pursuing his whims and fancies. He dresses himself according to the latest fashion and visits pleasure spots like Hampton Court. He is the counterpart of Belinda. Just as Belinda is the female flirt, the Baron is the male flirt. He knows the way of enticing women and uses all the romantic methods to win women of easy virtue. Like Belinda, he wishes to enjoy life at the fingertips.

      The Historic Day. Being fond of sex intrigues, the Baron on that day, was obsessed with the idea of possessing Belinda's lock. Pope writes in this connection:

The adventurous Baron the bright locks admired:
He saw, he wished, and to the prize aspired

      But the problem was how to acquire the beautiful lock of Belinda. In the game of Love, everything is fair. So the Lord decides to use any means to obtain the object of his heart's desire:

Resolv'd to win, he meditates the way,
By Force to ravish, or by Fraud betray;
(L. 179-180)

      In the lighter vein, Pope describes the invocation of the Lord at the altar of Love. Lord Petre makes an improvised altar with twelve books of French romances, and with gloves and other gifts obtained from the women he had loved. He lights the fire with love letters and by breathing sighs he prays to the god of Love to bless him with success. In the manner of the knights of the Middle Ages, the Baron seeks the help of his Love god in the adventure of the day.

      Arriving at Hampton court, the Baron starts his flirtation with Belinda, the Queen of beauties. He engages her in the game of cards and partly because Belinda is more intelligent than him, and partly because he is willing to surrender to her charm, he is defeated in the game. But his defeat spurs his anger and feeling for revenge. How should he defeat his conqueror - is the foremost thought in his mind. Sipping his coffee, he gets an idea of cutting her lock to score over her.

      The Baron takes up this task as seriously and consciously as a heroic knight engaged in an adventure with giants and dragons. He stands quietly behind the beauty queen and taking a pair of scissors, he cuts the lock quickly with an air of triumph:

The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
From the Fair head, for ever, and for ever!

      He feels very happy for his victory over his fair rival. He has won a unique prize:

Let Wreaths of Triumph' now my Temples twine
(The victor cry'd) the glorious Prize is mine!
(L. 451-452)

      He regards Belinda's hair as his most valuable possession. Perhaps this will make his name immortal.

      Belinda, however, is full of anger and cries vehemently for the restoration of her lock. Sir Plume, Belinda's friend also pleads with the Baron for the return of the lock. The Baron, however, refuses to oblige both of them.

      The Baron's character is satirical. His worship at the altar of love-god and his behavior at the card game is equally ridiculous. His vainglorious utterances over his cherished possession are not in harmony with his temporary success. Both in the card-game and the lock-game, Belinda turns out superior to him. The lock mysteriously disappears the becomes a part of the starry heavens. In short, the portrait of the Baron is an exaggerated and satirical portrait of a wealthy, foppish and lustful young man of the eighteenth century aristocracy.

      Conclusion. Next to Belinda is the Baron i.e., Lord Petre, who is the maker of the whole mischief. It is this haughty and daring youth who cuts the fair lock of the young virgin and gives much shock to the lady and her society. Lord Petre's character is however, delineated more perfectly; and his individual tendency does not go completely unmarked. His pride, insolence and his adventurous spirit are humorously but clearly pointed out. But the most amusing element of his character is shown in homage to love, and this brings out clearly the shallowness of this eighteenth-century youth.


Recount the Baron's proceedings on the day of the rape in The Rape of the Lock and consider his claim to be the mock-hero of the mock-epic.
Give an account of the deeds performed by the adventurous Baron in The Rape of the Lock.

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