Fashionable Life in The Rape of The Lock

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      Introduction. Every work of art, in some way or other, expresses its age; either as a direct reflection or by implication. The Rape of the Lock is without doubt a mirror of at least a certain section of English society in the eighteenth century. It captures perfectly the ethos of the aristocratic society of the day, if one shifts aside the obvious ironic exaggerations.

      Entire Age Not Mirrored. The form of poem chosen, namely the mock-heroic, precludes the possibility of portraying the society entirely; so there is no point in charging Pope with the limitation. The poem is thus, confined to the aristocratic society.

      Faithful Representation of The Fashionable Society. The Rape of the Lock presents the characteristics, customs, practices and habits of aristocracy, its penchant for the superficial aspects of life, small jealousies and vanities, treacheries and flirtations. The women and the men were equally preoccupied with trivialities-dressing up and spending their time in mundane pleasures. Cheap poetry and vulgar jokes were their most serious occupations and their chief social pastimes were Ombre playing and coffee-drinking, masquerades and balls.

      Passing Reference To a Wider Section of Society. Pope casually refers to judges and merchantmen. Judges are more concerned with their belly than with passing correct judgment on the poor defendants. Apparently, justice was quite arbitrary. The merchant's monetary lust is also mentioned.

      Conclusion. The Rape of the Lock is undoubtedly restricted in its portrayal of society, but what it depicts of the London of the day is a faithful representation.

University Questions

The Rape of the Lock has been considered as "a picture of contemporary fashionable life." Justify this dictum.
"The Rape of the Lock is a mirror of the 18th-century fashionable life." Discuss.
"The Rape of the Lock is a characteristic product of its age." It is a true statement? Give your reasons.
The Rape of the Lock presents faithfully the fashionable life of the time. Discuss.

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