The Rape of The Lock: Lines 265-270 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 265-270. To fifty chosen.....circumference around

      Summary: These lines form part of Ariel's address to the attendant spirits on the eve of the calamity threatening Belinda. Having assigned to various spirits the care of various parts of Belinda's equipment, Ariel now turns to an important thing i.e., her petticoat and charges fifty selected sylphs to protect it. Here is a hooped petticoat which is secured on her with whale bone. She is sufficiently secured against the approaches of an ill-bred fellow. Yet, even these formidable means of defense much resembling the seven-fold shield of Ajax are known often to have failed. Hence, Ariel commands the sylphs to form a strong cordon around the silver edging of the petticoat and thus, guard all its enormous circumference.

      Critical Analysis: These lines again are satirical in purpose. Pope is not only laughing at the design of the petticoats of the time but he is also hinting at the hypocrisies of the ladies of his time. The many folded, huge-sized petticoat secured with metal rings and whale bone is compared to Ajax's shield. Pope implies that these petticoats were worn to shield a woman's honour but that they were not really dependable. Despite this strong fortress, a woman's honor could (by her consent) be lost.

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