Blending of Divergent Elements in The Rape of The Lock

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      In The Rape of the Lock, there is a remarkably harmonious blending of three divergent elements. These divergent elements are, as stated by George Sampson, the mock-heroic, the satirical and the fanciful. This poem is a triumph of Pope's poetic genius. This critics in general are unanimous in their praise of the poem. Dr. Johnson has characterized it as 'the most attractive of all ludicrous compositions'; while Hazlitt has regarded it as 'the perfection of the mock-heroic.' Even other critics, including the detractors of Pope, have admitted and admired the quality of the poem.

      Mock Heroic Element. In Pope's mock-heroic poem the serious is rendered comical, and dignified, trivial. The effect is comical. Pope employs the devices and methods of an epic to present a trivial theme. The poet gives the vivid picture of the scenes and situations of an epic on a diminutive scale. The result is ludicrous. Whereas, the theme of an epic is serious and dignified, and the ludicrous has no place in it. The Rape of the Lock imitates the method of an epic to present a trivial and ludicrous theme.

      The Satirical Element. It is a brilliant and humorous satire on the social life of England in Anne's days; and it is also a satire on the literary world, especially the epic tradition that became popular in England after Milton. It is thus, a typical characteristic product of the Age which has been called by Legouis 'the golden age of parody.'

      Fanciful Elements or "In Fancy's Maze.'' A trivial theme is transformed into a work of art by the poet's fancy. The result is that the world which is so commonplace and familiar is rendered new and unfamiliar. The poem is enlivened and elevated by the play of the finest fancy of the realm of poetry. The sylphs and their airy habitation particularly form the fanciful spirit of the poem. In fact, the world of Pope's spirits is rich in imaginative splendor, and its elusive, and elfin spirit pervades all over the poem like the fairy world of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Pope's fancy finds another happy expression in his account of the transformation of the raped lock of Belinda into a star. The poet's concluding consolation to his romantic heroine is surcharged with his playful fancy, almost unmatched in the similar class of poetry.


"The Rape of the Lock is a blend of the mock-heroic, the satirical and the fanciful in our propriety" (G. Sampson). Illustrate.

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