The Rape of The Lock: Lines 319-326 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 319-326. Straight the three.....fond of place.

      Summary: Having related how Belinda, having finished her elaborate toilet, repairs to Hampton Court in the evening, determined to vanquish two venturesome knights singly at the game of Ombre, the poet now introduces us to the game itself. Each hand consists of nine cards and forthwith the players prepare to join in the combat. As soon as Belinda displays her cards the protecting aerial spirits come down and settle on each important card. First Ariel sits on one of the three principal cards; then others follow according to their different ranks; for sylphs, who were women once, are still conscious of their ancient lineage, and are now, as when they were women, amazingly covetous of places of distinction.

      Critical Analysis: Pope's description of the game of Ombre, with the celestial beings ready to help Belinda, is in the true mock-epic style. The characterization of the players as generals and the different cards as soldiers, is in the true Homeric style. Of course, this battle is a frivolous affair and is actually a symbolized struggle of the two sexes.

      Critical Comments on the game of Ombre. Let us first describe the game of Ombre and its peculiar rules. Ombre was the most fashionable game of cards in those days. The game was of Spanish origin. It owed its name to the Spanish words Yo soy I Hombre, i.e., 'I am the man' which were used by the principal player in challenging the opponents. It was played among three players only and no more. A specially devised triangular table called the Ombre-table was used in the game. It was played with a pack of forty cards, only the eights, nines, and tens being left out. Each player had only nine cards dealt out to him. The remaining thirteen cards were set apart. The peculiarity of the game was that any one of the three might undertake to defeat the other two combined. The player who challenged thus, was called the Ombre and he had the privilege of declaring which of the four suits should be trumps. Another peculiar rule was that whatever suit might be trumps, the highest trump was the Ace of Spades called the Spadillio and the third trump was always the Ace of Clubs. The second best trump was called Manillio. These three highest trumps were called Matadores. The game was won by the party who won five or more tricks out of nine. If the player who challenged the other, lost the game, he was called Codille. It is needless to say that the game was played at stakes.

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