The Rape of The Lock has any Relevance in Today's World?

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      Introduction. The Rape of the Lock has been called a mirror of contemporary society and as such dealing with topical interest. How then one may wonder, can it have much interest left for the modern reader. However, the poem is much more complex than a mere representation of the eighteenth-century aristocratic society of England.

      Pope is a spokesman of the social conscience of his time in The Rape of the Lock. He condemns the humbug, hypocrisy, vanity and pomposity of at least one section of the society. As Pope creates a panoramic picture of the world of fashion, its superficial gloss and the banality and littleness beneath - the poem rises above the ephemeral level, for it touches on some basic and universal truths. An excessive obsession with fashion and formality and artificiality (and the exaggerated description in the poem was not far from the reality of that age) is always the corollary to intellectual bankruptcy and spiritual inanity. What Pope holds up to ridicule in this poem are the complete loss of balance and the warping of values behind an appearance of sophistication and delicacy. And if this was true of the world of Pope's time it is equally true of all worlds of all times.

      The juxtaposition of the contemporary with the heroic gives universality to the portraits. The mock-heroic treatment idealizes the ridiculous, and the characters in the poem serve as models of inaned foppery and fashion for all times and all places. If the heroic models inspire one with values, these mock-heroic models encourage us to recognize and laugh ourselves out of folly for it is so ridiculous. The morals which are implied, in the poem - the virtues of moderation, good sense and good humor-are relevant for all times, not only for the aristocratic but for all human beings. The confusion of values presented in the society of the poem is meant to make us think, for when human beings adopt rituals and customs and behavior without pondering .over the right or wrong, sense or nonsense, there is something very wrong with the society.

      Abiding Artistic Merits. The Rape of the Lock is the finest example of witty mock-heroic poem ever written. Its artistic merits alone are enough to make the poem of abiding interest. It continues to charm the modern reader by its deft combination of the serious and the non-serious. "Its burlesque mockery of supposedly pernicious aspects of high society is never altogether serious. And it is precisely this ability to imply without pointing a finger, to allude ever so lightly without clearly referring, that happily makes it contemporary for all times" as G.S. Rousseau puts it. The supernatural machinery adds greatly to the poem's aesthetic appeal. Conclusion. In The Rape of the Lock, we find such contraries as levity and seriousness, epic grandeur and utter triviality, satire, and admiration, myth and reality, blended naturally into a unity. To this extent, modern critics have called it "metaphysical." The work is not merely a mock-heroic poem, but a work of consummate artistic skill in which a variety of styles, intentions, themes and experiences have been blended into an aesthetic unity. It is an instance of a poem being topical without being ephemeral.

University Questions

Do you think a poem like The Rape of the Lock has any relevance now? By juxtaposing the contemporary with the heroic, how does Pope offer moral and social criticism which is valuable even today?
How far does The Rape of the Lock show the abiding greatness of Pope's poetic art?
Pope "presents a remarkable example of the poet who is topical without being ephemeral." Discuss with reference to The Rape of the Lock.

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