The Rape of The Lock: Lines 7-12 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 7-12. Say what strange.....such mighty rage?

      Summary: In these lines the poet comes to his immediate subject matter. He is puzzled that a well-bred lord should be so violent as to offend a high-born lady. It is equally strange that a high-born lady should be so angry as to reject the love of a lord. And this quarrel between a lord and a lady is the fact he deals with in the poem. The poet asserts: "Oh Muse, tell me what might be the strong object that could urge Lord Petre, who was perfect in his manners, to take an offensive liberty with a highborn lady and what might be the more inexplicable and unknown cause that could lead the highborn lady; Miss Fermor, to reject the love of the lord. Tell me how a mere small-sized man like Lord Petre could dare to undertake such a bold undertaking as the cutting of the ladies lock of hair and how such strong anger could exist in the gentle breast of so charming a lady, as to make her reject the lord.

      Critical Analysis: The Baron's ravishing of Belinda's hair is ironically mentioned as a "bold task" and there is a sarcastic reference to the Baron's short stature as well in the word "little." In the same sarcastic tone Pope has paired off "soft bosoms" with "mighty rage" - this is referring to Belinda. The irony is further strengthened by the juxtaposition of the language of assault and compulsion, so foreign to the lords and ladies, against the standards of good breeding and politeness.

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