Rosicrucian Spirits in The Rape of The Lock

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      Introduction. The '"machinery" consisting of the sylphs and spirits was added by Pope in the second version of The Rape of the Lock, the purpose being to elaborate the poem into a full-fledged mock-epic poem. Supernatural machinery is integral to any epic poem, for it shows the relationship between God and man, and the importance of Fate in human affairs.

      What are the Rosicrucian spirits? Christian and Greek theology would be inappropriate in a mock-epic poem, as they are inherently solemn. Pope made a fortunate choice in the Rosicrucian spirits-a fantastic system of supernatural being believed in by a community known as the Rosicrucians. Pope came across it in a French book Le Comte de Gabalis.

      Nature of the Spirits in The Rape of the Lock. There are different types of these supernatural beings-salamanders, water spirits, gnomes, sylphs. All are the souls of women which after death become a spirit of the type most appropriate to their nature when alive. The sylphs are the celestial beings, occupying the atmosphere close to the earth. They are the spirits of the light-hearted flirts.

      Function and Role of the Sylphs. The sylph's function is to protect the chaste and virgin women from falling prey to rapacious men. Having the power to acquire any shape or sex and to fly invisible anywhere they like, they are always in attendance on the young maids. Their mode of protecting the chastity of their young charges is most ironically comical; they make them more widely flirtatious so that their heart is not fixed on anyone gallant.

      Speech of Ariel: Its Relevance In Mock-Heroic Scheme. The address by Ariel in the second Canto of the poem serves to raise, in a mock-heroic manner, the fantastic supernatural order of spirits to cosmic order. There are various orders of spirits, each order with specific functions assigned to it. They control such various events as the movement of stars and the safety of - the British throne. Thus, these supernatural beings are given a wider perspective and at the same time their mock-heroic significance is never forgotten.

      Conclusion. The scheme of the Rosicrucian spirits is well assimilated by Pope into the poem. We can safely say that the inclusion of the machinery has enhanced the brilliance of the poem. Further, it gives a touch of imaginative beauty to the work. It is also part of the mild satiric-moral scheme of the poem, for by implication, the sylphs and gnomes and salamanders are telling comments on the vanities, frivolities and follies of the female sex which Pope was satirizing.

University Questions

What role do the Rosicrucian spirits play in The Rape of the Lock?
How would you justify that the addition of the supernatural or celestial machinery enhances the value of The Rape of the Lock?
Describe the nature, character and occupations of sylphs as indicated by Pope in The Rape of the Lock.
Pope's exploitation of the Rosicrucian machinery in The Rape of the Lock has both moral and aesthetic consequences. Amplify.

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