Professor Sarah Rice
13 July 2011
Mock Epic of “The Rape of the Lock”
“The Rape of the Lock” written by Alexander Pope is an intriguing poem in its whole. He makes this poem into an epic mock. Where he writes about how ridiculous the group he associates with have an “epic” card match over a lock of hair. “The Rape of the Lock” overall shows us how high society quarrels can resemble a great epic. Pope use of the mock epic was well written where a reader cannot read this whole poem without thinking of the great epics of the world. Pope successfully satirizes the idea of an epic by using a mock epic and ridiculing his peers. Pope shows us the how a mock epic is good representation of both worlds.
Like other mock-epics, the Rape of the Lock both takes from and common epics to comment on Pope's society. The mock-epic usually does the two following: to take the epic form by forcing it to attend to average things and, then ascend the poem's content or words to a heroic status (Rousseau, 3). The Rape of the Lock exaggerates an otherwise average subject to an epic or heroic status while also soiling the idea of an epic form with rather sad and unheroic matters. Ironically, this writing of Pope’s Rape of the Lock has an almost opposite effect, but in the end it still makes fun of the idea of an epic. The epic was a common type of writing by individuals like Homer, Virgil, and Milton. The mock-epic takes some of the ideas of an epic and twists them into its own liking. The hero, the journey into the underworld or Hades, the machinery, epic battles: the epic includes all of these elements, among others. The Rape of the Lock adopts those ideas of an epic and then evolves or twists them to adapt them to fit the mock form (Hunt, 15). The purpose of the mock-epic was to take the epic form and not only make fun of it, but to also use some characteristics of an epic to make a statement. However, a mock epic did not necessarily destroy an...
Cited: Hunt, John Dixon. Pope: The Rape of the Lock; a Casebook. Nashville: Aurora, 1970.
Kinsley, William. Contexts II: The Rape of the Lock. Connecticut: Archon Books, 1979.
Pope, Alexander. "The Rape of the Lock: An Heroi-Comical" Greenblatt, Stephen Jay, and Meyer Howard Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature,. New York: Norton, 2006.
Rousseau, G. S., and Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock: a Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1969.
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