The Rape of The Lock: Lines 91-104 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 91-104. Oft, when the.....squeeze her hand?

      Summary: In these lines, Ariel tells Belinda that often people think young ladies to be going astray and deserting the path of virtue. But the truth is that the sylphs, to keep these young ladies on the right path try to counter one folly of theirs with another, leading them with safety through the many intricate paths of the world of pleasure and fashions.

      The sylphs manage to prevent lovers from taking undue liberties with them by getting for the new ones. A young lady would have certainly been conquered by the entertainment given to her by her lover had its effect not been neutralized by a ball given by another lover. A maiden would not have been able to resist the offers of Florio, had Damon not been there to press his own love suit. Thus, these flirts, with their ever changing frivolities, e.g. by diverting their affections constantly to new, and frivolous objects of desire, which these lovers offer them, transfer their attention from one lover to another. Fashionable youths wearing wigs and carrying swords, whose hilts are fastened with tassels of silk ribbons, compete with one another to win their hearts. One gallant displaces another, and the attraction of one lover's coach-and-six drives out another, and so it goes on. Thus, their hearts are like a moving toyshop. People, who mistake things and do not know the truth, ignorantly attribute all this to frivolity and inconstancy on the part of young ladies, but in fact, it is all the doing of sylphs, who thus manage to save young ladies from falling victims to the passion of lovers.

      Critical Analysis: Pope, by using this dream sequence has not only managed to introduce his machinery of the celestial creatures but has also managed to write a terrific satire on women in general. He ruthlessly brings out the follies and frivolities and the lack of morality of the fashionable women of his society. The entire description of the fragility of women, coming from Ariel is in a satirical vein and thoroughly entertaining. This salient feature has made Pope’s mock-epic truly enjoyable and very instructive, thus, fulfilling the most important function of this literary genre.

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