The Rape of The Lock: Lines 407-414 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 407-414. Coffee, which makes.....injur'd hair

      Summary: These lines present the comments of the author on the impending disaster. After the game of Ombre, Belinda, the Baron and their party sat down to coffee. Very soon the Baron began feeling the stimulating effect of the coffee. While Belinda bent down on her cup of coffee, the mind of the Baron filled with a new strategy. The poet sounds a warning. The youth is advised to desist from such a reckless deed. He is warned of the fierce justice of the gods who will not spare him for such a base deed.

      The god will avenge themselves for his rash deed. He should remember the rash deed of Scylla and the destiny she reaped for her unjust act. Scylla was the daughter of king Nisus of Megara. Minos once laid seize to Megara. Scylla having fallen in love with Minos plucked the purple lock of her old father and brought it to her lover. This led to the fall of the city of Megara. Minos, who was shocked by this rash act of faithlessness of the daughter against her father, left her in disgust. Scylla cast herself in the sea and swam after the ship. The old father Nisus, who had been transformed into a sea eagle pounced upon her; where upon she too was transformed into a bird called Ciris. This was the punishment given to Scylla for having plucked the purple lock of her father. The gods warn him that if he does not desist from the act of clipping away the golden lock of hair from the beautiful lady’s (Belinda) head he too might suffer some serious punishment at the hands of the just god.

      Critical Analysis: Having mentioned how during the coffee session at Hampton Court, the protecting aerial spirits gathered round Belinda, the poet traces the genesis of the Baron's tricks to obtain Belinda's shining lock of hair. In passing, the poet makes a sarcastic allusion to the pretentious talk of the would-be politicians frequenting coffee houses. It seemed as if coffee made them wise and helped them to discover the secrets of things through their half-closed eyes. By a clever pun on 'vapour' (coffee fumes and melancholy), Pope deflates the morbid hypochondriac and the devilish Baron at once stroke.

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