Fact & Fiction in The Rape of The Lock

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      Pope's poem has nothing serious, but it is invested with an assumed gravity and a dignified air. The port's mock-serious objective elevates his little things to the epical heights, while the sublime is subjected to travesty. The Rape of the Lock as observed by Hazlitt "the little is made great, and the great little." In fact, this epic is raised out of practically nothing. The epic is built round the rape of the lock of a fashionable belle by a proud beau. The theme of the poem is certainly trivial, and the poet's materials are all insignificant theme of the poem is certainly trivial, and the poet's materials are all insignificant and turned into a glittering piece of poetry by Pope's commendable sense of the mock-heroic poetry.

      Again the aristocratic society of London with its social scandals, follies, and frivolities is presented in a mock-heroic manner. It is this treatment of a common theme in an uncommon manner which renders new things familiar and familiar things new in the poem. The poem presents a marvelous blending of the old and the new, the familiar and unfamiliar and real and fanciful. Side by side with a lady's toilet in a London house, coffee and the game of cards the diminutive sylphs and the cave of Spleen are presented. The blending of the real and the unreal, the factual and the fanciful lends a unique charm to the poem.

      Examples from "The Rape of the Lock." (i) The first element of Pope's fiction is the machinery of the poem. The elusive, elfin world of Pope's spirits is purely fictional, but the poet nicely adjusts it against the fact of the rape of Belinda's lock. By making the sylphs the guarding spirits of the fair belle, he achieves a rare fusion between fact and fiction, and the gross act of the rape of Belinda's lock by the proud Baron, becomes an affair of epical suspense and sensation, (ii) Belinda's bodkin assumes the dignity of a celestial weapon, used by a hero in an epic. It is this weapon she uses against her foe in the mock battle towards the end of the poem, (iii) The play of Ombre at Hampton court is fancifully and ingeniously contrived. The game is described with the appropriate terms of an epic combat, and this is certainly a very attractive element of Pope's fancy. But this game of Ombre is also finely fused with the fact of the rape of Belinda's lock. After her great victory at the Ombre-table, Belinda cries out in ecstatic joy, but this joy merely precludes her unfortunate humiliation and shame by the loss of her lovely lock, (iv) The consequence of the rape of the lock, is cleverly conceived by the poet and the battle between the fashionable belles and the vainglorious beaux is a fine piece of fiction. This queer and amusing battle, fought with no usual weapons, is also described in an epical manner and the fact of Pope's poem is made much impressive and delightful by the addition of this side of fiction, (v) The poem is particularly rich in descriptive verses, and Pope has aroused here admiration sufficiently. His description of the supernatural characters of his sylphs is particularly remarkable. Every line of his description contains an exquisite art to make his information of the denizens of the air highly impressive and picturesque.

      Conclusion. To sum up in The Rape of the Lock the poet presents the epic devices in the familiar London world of his own. He succeeds in rendering the familiar, unfamiliar and vice versa. Pope's rare quality to strike a just balance between fact and fiction, between reality and fancy, is brightly displayed here. This has, to a great extent, won for the poem the fame of a literary masterpiece.


Discuss that the little is made great and the great is made little in The Rape of the Lock.
In The Rape of the Lock new things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new. Discuss this dictum.

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