4 Dec 2018

MA English Part.1,The Rape of the Lock as a social Satire

MA English Par.1 Paper.1 Poetry,The Rape of the Lock as a social satire/a mirror to 18th century English Society

                                       The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

Satire is a literary device with which a poet or a writer criticizes the absurdities and follies of a society in a light and funny way.A satire does never injure anybody s' feelings.Its object is to make fun of the false pretensions of the society and to set them right.

The first part of the 18th century is known as Augustan Age in English literature and this age is also famous for the age of Pope.Alexander was a prominent figure of that age.This age was dominated by the prevailing spirit of satire and moral preaching

A person who uses the weapon of satire in his pieces of literature is a reformer.Through his literary works , he criticizes the follies prevailing in that age.In this way, Pope is the greatest satirist and his social satire is always impersonal.

In the poem, "The Rape of the Lock" the whole panorama is limited to the 18th century aristocratic life.The rich strata had indulged in the vanities and follies of the life.They participated in absurd activities and spent their maximum time in love affairs,getting to gather and in dance parties.

The average life of the women of that era was to dress,to visit clubs and coffee houses where the young lovers and gallants punctually gathered to please and to flirt.These gallants went on awakening the whole night and remained busy in writing love letters.

For them the absurd activities like love making were their chief priorities to get pleasures and entertainment.Women were inconstant and disloyal in love.They indulged in love affairs only to pass their time and to flirt and to receive gifts and love letters from the lovers.

The women of that century were greatly in love with pets.The kept pets at their houses.For them the break of the China vessel and the death of a dog was as a great misfortune as the death of a husband.
Belinda says;
                          "Oh,hadst thou,cruel!been content to seize
                           Hairs less in sight,or any hairs but these."

Many girls of that era rejected suitable matches for them in the hope of receiving marriage proposals from dukes and peers.Their heart went on shifting from one lover to another just like a moving toy shop.The conversation of the ladies and the knights at the court amuses us by its emptiness ans shallowness because their talks were generally centered around the dance parties,court visits and sex scandals.
                    "At every word a reputation dies."

In this poem, Belinda is a type and representative figure and character.She is the representative of the girls women and the ladies of the 18th century.She is the showcase of the whole society  of that age.She is a goddess of beauty and charm.Pope emphasizes her physical charm namely,sparkling cross and white breast.She had nourished two beautiful locks of hairs.

She was so charming and attractive that from wherever she passed,the lovers spread their hearts and eyes.They wished to have a glimpse of her beauty and desires to play with her beautiful hairs.They wanted to get lost in the mazes of her beautiful hairs.They wished to dance with her
                 "Belinda smiled and all the world was gay."

At that era ,to sleep late at the night and to awake late at the day time was a fashion among the women.So, in the poem, Belinda awakes late in the day.She passes the whole night in love making and in dancing in the parties.
Pope projects it thus:
         "Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake,
          And sleepless lovers,just at twelve awake."

And after awakening ,she does not worship gods,her only worship is decorating her body by using many costly beauty enhancing products.She does not read the Bible,instead she reads the love letters received to her by her lovers.


After decorating and getting ready, she goes out for boating.She casts her smiles all around without showing particular favour to any one.
            "Favours to none,to all she smiles extends,
             Oft she rejects, but never one offends."

Lord Baron,the male character and the protagonist in the poem is the representative of the fashionable men of that time.He typifies the aristocratic gentlemen of that age.The strange battle between the sexes shows what sort of people they were.The lines which describe the strange shapes in the cave of the Spleen, are full of satire.We are given a satirical culture of hungry judges and the jury men who were in a hurry to get back home for dinner.

In the conclusion,we can say that the poem projects a world of frivolity and fashion which were the only pleasures of that time.The poem is a true reflection of the 18th century.Pope very successfully satirizes the follies of that age.The poem is a mirror of that society.