The Rape of The Lock: Lines 453-468 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 453-468. While fish in.....unresisted steel?

      Summary: These lines contain the Baron's joyous exclamation on obtaining Belinda's coveted lock. By this triumph, he has achieved abiding glory. As long as fish delights in winter or birds in air or British women in a coach and six; as long as the "New Atlantis" continues to be read and ladies recline against the small pillow while receiving visitors in their bed-chamber, while visits are paid on ceremonial occasions when numerous well-arranged candles burn brightly; and while ladies receive entertainments or make appointments, his name and fame shall live.

Lines: 461-468. What time would.....of unresisted steel?

      Summary: Having declared that this success will make his fame immortal, he urges the nymph not to fret much over the incident. He says wherever is not destroyed in the usual course by time, has its limit of existence fixed by steel, and memorials, like men, have one day to see their end. Steel could undo the work of the gods and raze to the ground the royal towers of Troy; steel could defeat the achievements of men's vanity and strike down to the ground gateways built to commemorate victories. There is nothing to be surprised at, therefore, if Belinda's lock too has yielded to the irresistible powers of steel.

      Critical Analysis: In the true mock-epic style, the poet paints a clownish picture of the Baron in his exultation after securing Belinda's lock of hair. Such exultation for so little an achievement surely does not become a Baron! But the poet goes on to prove the Baron to be a silly, and children prankster on the one side and to have a fling at the avarice and destructiveness of men in general on the other, i.e" the destructive powers of war (Steel is used extensively in war). Some critics take these words "what wonder then, fair nymph: thy hair should feel / The conquering force of unresisted steel" (L. 467-468) to be positively obscene, "Hairs" here has the implication of pubic hair.

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