The Rape Of The Lock Critical Analysis

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Is there a tension between ‘decorum’ and ‘wit’ in the literature of the early eighteenth century? Alexander Popes intention when writing The Rape of the Lock was to highlight the trivial hollowness that encapsulated the men and women of the early eighteenth century, it appeared to be an age where the upper-class revelled in luxurious objects, social leisure and maintaining calm and decorum seemed to be the sole purpose of the upper-class. However, the rich fell short of valuing central issues of the eighteenth century and seemed to have forgotten what really mattered, something Pope found amusing and unethical. Crehan writes ‘part of its critique is to show how, when relations between people have turned into relations between things. ’ Using the elevated style of epic poetry but employing it into something very trivial, the petty and ludicrous dispute between two families over a lock of hair is given the epic treatment producing a mock-heroic effect. This is achieved by contrasting Belinda’s everyday trivial activities with heroic adventures and the significant triumphs of the heroes and heroines of the classic epics, creating irony and wit in which Pope is mocking the upper-class. “These set the Head, and those divide the Hair, Some fold the Sleeve, whilst others plait the Gown; And Betty’s prais’d for labours not her own ” Pope generates an imitation of your classic epic poem. Most epic poems begin with the introduction to Gods, Goddesses and Muses, for example in
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