The Rape of The Lock: Canto 5 - Line by Line Summary

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CANTO - 5

      Lines: 645-652. Belinda thus bewailed her lot and the hearers were filled with pity and shed tears. Fate, however, conspired with Jove and made the Baron deaf to this appeal.

      Thalestris showered invectives on the ravisher, expecting in this manner to move him but it was to no effect; for none could possibly succeed where the beautiful Belinda had failed. Aeneas remained firm in his resolve in spite of all the entreaties of Queen Dido and her sister Anna to delay his departure from Carthage: the Baron proved still more adamant. After this the sober Clarissa waved her fun peacefully. Silence followed this; whereafter she said the following:

      Lines: 653-678. "Tell me, why are beautiful women admired and worshipped and are the inspiration both of the wise and the vain; why are they decorated with all the choice gifts of land and sea; why are they called angels and treated like angels; why the fashionable young men in white gloves throng round our coaches; and why do the gentlemen sitting in the side boxes bow in courtesy to us? These honors, as well as the pains which we take to earn them, are all useless, unless we show good sense and preserve our achievements. If we were so, men might say of the ladies in the front-boxes, that they are the most conspicuous, not only for their exterior beauty but also for their inner qualities. Oh! if dancing the whole night and dressing the whole day could keep one away from small-pox, or to prevent old age from overtaking her, none would bother about the duties of married life. Nobody would care to learn anything of practical use in life. Learning how to patch and even throwing sidelong glances might in that case he worthy of saint, nor beauty is short-lived and must decline one day; hair will become grey; whether formed into ringlets or left uncared for; our bloom shall sooner or later disappear whether we use paint or not, and she who treats a young man with indifference will necessarily die single; what is left in the circumstances, therefore, is to make the best use of our gifts and always to retain good-humour whatever our loss may be. And believe me, my dear, good humor can achieve what assumed poses, passions, cries, and railings cannot. Beautiful women move their eyes to no purpose, for extent attraction and charm, appeal only to the eyes, while merit or real inner worth reaches up to and wins the soul"

      Lines: 679-688. The maid spoke thus, but no expression of praise from others followed. Belinda looked angry. Thalestris considered her priggish. The dreadful female warrior calls, her people to battle and throws herself into the fight with the speed of lighting. All those present join one party or the other and start the attack. There is a striking of fans, rustling of silk clothes, and breaking of hard whalebones; the cries of the fighters, both male and female, get mixed up and move upwards, so that deep as well as shrill sounds reach the skies. They do not carry ordinary weapons in their hands; they fight like gods and have no fear of any deadly injury.

      Lines: 689-696. It is thus, when Homer represents in his epic the Iliad in which the gods are fighting and their hearts are tormented with the wraths and jealousies of mere mortals. Mars (the god of War)' arms himself to fight Pallas (the goddess of wisdom) and Hermes(the Messenger of gods) to fight Latona (the mistress of Jupiter) and the entire abode of the gods resounds with the shouts raised by them. Jove's thunder sends forth a terrible sound which shakes the surrounding skies; the blue ocean breaks into a storm; the deep waters surging into waves produce ringing echoes; the earthquakes make the towers tremble; there are beaches or opening in the ground at places and the lustreless hosts are startled out of their graves as the light of the sun flashes forth in front of them.

      Lines: 690-703. Victorious Umbriel on the top of a candle-stick flapped his wings in delight, and sat there to observe the battle. The spirits, supported on their spear-like bodkins (hair-pins) witness the glorious battle, in which they take sides.

      Lines: 704-710. While the infuriated Thalestris hurries through the crowd, killing people with her looks, a beau and a -witling from among the throng die, one in metaphor and the other in song. Dapperwit cried, 'O heartless beauty, I have to suffer a living death;' and dropped near his chair. Sir Fopling looked up despondently and the last words he uttered were, " Those eyes are made so killing". It is thus that the dying swan lies on the banks of the Meander, overgrown with flowers, and while dying sings last song.

      Lines: 711-714. When the brave Sir Plume had laid Clarissa down, Chole intervened, and killed him with angry look. When the valiant hero died, she smiled in triumph, but smile brought him back to life again.

      Lines: 715-718. At this stage Jove hangs golden balance up in the air and weighs the men's wits against the lady's hair. The uncertain beam long waves from side to side, but in the end the wits go up and the hair lies low.

      Lines: 719-730. See, the terrible Belinda rushes upon the Baron with an unusual glare in her eyes. The Baron, however, who desired no more than to die on his enemy, did not flinch from the unequal combat in fear. But this brave chief, endowed with masculine strength was beaten by the nymph with finger and a thumb. The crafty maiden threw a quantity of snuff into the very nostrils of the man, through which he drew in the breath of existence. The spirits guide and rightly apportion every bit of the snuff which causes a pleasant pricking sensation. Suddenly the eyes become wet with the tears which start from them and the high vault thereafter echoes back the explosive sound made by the nose.

      Lines: 731-740. The infuriated Belinda exclaimed: "Now face your doom", and drew a mortal bodkin from her side. (Her great grandfather wore this on a ribbon about his neck in three seal rings in order to adorn his venerable person; subsequently, it was melted and made into a big buckle for his widow's skirt; it was next transformed into a whistle for her young grandmother, who rang the bells and blew the whistle, thereafter it long adorned her mother's hair in the shape of a bodkin or ornamental pin, and Belinda now uses it as such).

      Lines: 741-746. "Discourteous adversary, do not brag of having defeated me. You too will be brought low, as I have been, by someone else. Besides, be not elated with the thought that defeated at your hands in any way disconcerts my chivalrous mind. The only thing I worry about is leaving you behind: Oh! therefore, let me continue to live, for I prefer being consumed alive by the flames of love to death in this manner."

      Lines: 747-766. Belinda cries, "Return the Lock", and the high dome about her echoes back "Return the Lock". Even Othello did not call out for the handkerchief, the thought of which rankled in his mind, in such a loud tone. But see how frequently ambitious attempts are baffled and the contestants fight on till the prize itself disappears. Belinda's lock, secured surreptitiously and retained with so much effort, is searched for everywhere, but searched for to no purpose. Heaven decides that no mortal should be favored with such a prize, and none can counter that decree.

      Lines: 757-766. Some imagined that the lock had shot up to the sphere carrying the moon, since it was believed that everything lost on earth was stored there. There the wits of heroes are kept in snuff boxes and cases for small instruments. Pledges not kept and gifts made only at the time of death are found there. Other things to be seen there are hearts of lovers tied with the ends of ribbons, the promises of courtiers, the prayers of ailing men, the smiles of prostitutes, the tears shed by heirs succeeding to property, cages for gnats, chains for holding flea, specimen of butterflies preserved by drying and the works of the school men.

      Lines: 767-776. But believe the Muse of Poetry, she saw it going upwards though none other than sharp poetic eyes observed it. (It was thus that Romulus, the founder of the great Roman Empire, was caught up into heaven though the fact was directly revealed to Procolus only). A star resembling a comet suddenly shot across the liquid air. Even the locks of Berenice, as they were taken upwards by Jupiter, did not first shine so brightly nor illumined the skies with such disordered streaks of light. The spirits see it burning as it rises, and with pleasure follow its career through the heavens.

      Lines: 777-784. The fashionable world will notice it from the Mall and greet its favorable light with music. The happy lover will think it to be a symbol of Venus and send up pledge of love from his resort near Rosamonda's Pond. John Patridge, the foolish astrologer, will observe it in the clear skies when he next watches through the telescope invented by Galileo and on the basis of it predict the downfall of the Pope and the King of France.

      Lines: 785-795. Therefore, beautiful maid, stop bemoaning the loss of your hair, because it has added a new light to the glorious heavens. Not all the locks of beautiful women can attract such envy or grudging contemplation as the one you have lost; because, after all the deaths caused by your eye, when numberless victims will have been laid low, and you will die, when the light in your eyes, will become extinct, as one day it must, this lock will be made famous by the Muse and your name will become lustrous and lasting as the stars above.

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