The Rape of The Lock: Canto 5 - Summary & Analysis

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      Clarissa tries in vain to console Belinda (L. 645-678). Though all the rest pitied poor Belinda, the Baron was not at all affected by her lament; nor was he moved by the reproaches of Thalestris. Clarissa, who was rather grave, tried to calm Belinda by lamenting that women are praised in vain; in vain they pride themselves upon the richness of their dress; in vain are they adored by men. The worth of womanhood lies in virtue; there is no good in trying to preserve one's beauty because beauty cannot last for ever; and locks, curled or uncurled, must turn grey in time. So it was wiser for Belinda to take her loss with good humor; and good humor, in spite of a loss, is able to do what shrieks and reproaches cannot do.

      A battle is fought between the men and the women (L. 679- 746). Thalestris dismissed the sagacious advice of Clarissa as that of a prude and called the ladies to the battle of wit and charm against the opposite sex. Heroes and heroines shouted confusedly while fans clapped and silks rustled. Umbriel and other spirits watched the combat with interest. Thalestris scattered death with both her eyes; Clarissa engaged Sir Plume who was killed by Chloe's frown, but he revived as she smiled to see him slain. Belinda engaged the Baron, and threw a pinch of snuff into his nostrils which made him sneeze awfully, and filled his eyes with tears. She made him surrender at her hairpin's point and demanded her lock back. But alas! the lock could not be found anywhere. Some say it had mounted to the moon where all vain things of earth are stored up; but the poet saw it rise up to the sky where it shone forth as a constellation to be adored by lovers and consulted by astronomers.

Critical Analysis

      Belinda's appeal had no effect on the Baron. Clarissa advised Belinda that she need not bother about the loss of her hair because, hair turned grey. Beauty does not last long. More important than beauty is good sense and good humor for a woman. The moral of the poem is contained in the words of wisdom uttered by Clarrisa: "Good sense of a woman can capture the heart of a man for all time." These words did not satisfy Belinda. She was ready for a fight. Her friend Thalestris urged the women to fight with the men. Pope describes it as an epic fight. Men collapsed before the charm of women. Beauty is stronger than the sword. Sir Plume died with the angry look of Chloe. Finally, Belinda fought the Baron and threw snuff at his nostril. He started sneezing and tears rolled from his eyes. Belinda shouted for the return of the locks of hair. But it was nowhere to be found. The Muse of poetry look it to the sky where it shines now as a star.

      The battle of the sexes is very interesting and the way in which men fall is rather amusing. This battle is in the mock-heroic strain.

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