8 Dec 2018

MA English Part.1 Paper Poetry,The Role of Machinery in The Rape of the Lock

The Role of Supernatural Elements in The Rape of the Lock

1.Comment on Pope s' use and treatment of the supernatural machinery in "The Rape of the Lock."
2.Write a brief account of the nature,activities and the role of supernatural beings in "The Rape of the Lock."
3.What part does the supernatural machinery play in "The Rape of the Lock?.Does it heighten the mock heroic effect.


The use of machinery is an important essential of the epic.No epic is complete without the projection of the supernatural beings.If we look into the past epic,we come to know that in those epic supernatural elements played a significant role.In olden days it was a common assumption that each and every act was contrived by the supernatural elements.So the use of machinery got a significant part in the epics of the past.

If we go through Milton s' "Paradise Lost", Homer s' "Virgil" and Shakespeare s' "The Tempest",we find supernatural machines playing very important roles in the actions of the stories.

An mock epic is the parody of epic.In the mock epic ,the poet makes fun of the every essential and quality of the epic.So,The Rape of the Lock' is not free from that essential.Pope cannot leave this important quality of the epic.So, he uses the earthly vehicles in this mock heroic poem and he is very successful in this effort.

Rosicrucian mythology is the main source of Pose s' machinery in this poem.Pope writes in the epistle dedicatory, "As per these gentlemen(the Rosicrucian) the four elements are inhabited by spirits,which they call sylphs,Gnomes,Nymphs ans Salamanders.The Gnomes delights in mischief,but the Sylphs whose habitation is air,are the best conditioned creatures imaginable.

Pope tells us in the poem that the beautiful women return,after their death,to the elements from which they were derived.Violent tempered women become Salamanders or the spirit of the fire.Women of gentle and pleasing disposition pass into nymphs or water spirits.Prudish women become gnome or Earth spirits.Light heated coquettes are changed into Sylphs or the spirits of the air.

Pope did not  rely on the Rosicrucian sources only, he consulted the Renaissance sources also.He took the name Ariel from Shakespeare s' play "The Tempest" The fairy like brilliant appearance of the Sylphs owed something to to the fairies of Shakespeare s' Midsummer Night s' Dream.

The foremost duty of the Sylphs is to protect the fair and the chaste ladies who reject the male sex.They save these ladies fro falling victim to the allurements of unfaithful and insincere friends.The Gnomes,the Earth spirits fill the minds of proud ladies with foolish ideas which make them indulge in vulgar and in vain dreams of getting married with the peers and dukes.

In the poem Ariel,the chief assigns various duties to airy elves.Their major duty is to serve the fashionable ladies.The functions of these Sylphs are describes humorously. They save the face powder on the cheeks of the beautiful ladies from being blown off by rough and harsh winds,preventing scents from evaporating,preparing cosmetics,teaching the ladies to blush and to put on enchanting airs and suggesting new ideas about dress.

Here in this poem, one should bear this fact in mind that it  is a satirical comedy of manners.The Sylphs in the poem are both a mirror and mock apotheosis of customs and conventions of the society of the time. Belinda,the protagonist,is told and informed in a dream that she is being protected and cared by the militia of air.Sylphs' theology is to protect the honorable and chaste ladies.All these functions are contrived by the sylphs yet the reward is awarded to the earthly beings.

These supernatural beings are present at the every crucial situation in the poem.When Belinda is boating and going to the Hampton court,she is being protected by the sylphs and airy elves.The Ariel is burdened with this fear that something serious may happen before this this day Sun sets.He assigns different duties to Sylphs and warns them of punishment if they neglect their duties.

Fifty active and vigilant sylphs are deputed to protect Belinda s' petticoat.They are in attendance on when Belinda plays Omber. They hover around her when she sips coffee.

They only withdraw when Ariel sees an earthly lover lurking in Belinda s' heart.A Gnome named Umbriel goes to the cave of Spleen and brings a bag full of sighs,sorrows and griefs and pour all over Belinda.And the Sylphs are present to witness the flight of Belinda s' lock of hair to the sky.

The use of machinery serves various other purposes in the poem.The machinery imparts quality of splendour and wonder to the actors and the action in the poem.


  1. Really Outstanding notes.thanks sir

  2. Really Outstanding notes 👌👌. thanks sir

  3. Indeed the notes and the videos are marvelous. The words are simple that give a complete comprehension to a layman reader. I really appreciate your good effort on this. Hats off!

  4. جزاک اللّٰه
    For ur effort