The character of belinda
There are several aspects of the personality of Belinda as portrayed by Pope in The Rape of the Lock. It will be wrong to regard her purely as a goddess, or as a pretty spoiled child, or as a flirt. She is a combination of all three, and yet much more than such a combination. We see her in many different lights. We see her as a coquette, an injured innocent, a sweet charmer, a society belle, a rival of the sun, and a murderer of millions. She has, indeed, a Cleopatra-like variety.
The primary quality of Belinda is spiritual shallowness, an incapacity for moral awareness. Ariel acquaints us with her flirtatious character when, exhorting his fellow-spirits to remain vigilant, he says that it is not known whether the beautiful Belinda will allow her chastity to be violated, or some delicate China-jar will break; whether she will stain her honour or her new brocade; whether she will lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball. The first possibility in each of these pairs of calamities shows that Belinda is not likely to exercise sufficient caution in protecting her maidenly purity. These lines show how easily a lady like Belinda might lose her chastity in a world of philanderers and how irreparably. Besides, to Belinda a masked ball is as important as a religious prayer, and she takes her prayer with the light-heartedness with which goes to a masked ball. She has transformed all spiritual exercises and emblems into a coquette's self-display and self-adoration. All of it is done with a frivolous heedlessness. For instance, she wears a sparkling cross which is a religious symbol but which is put by her to the uses of ornamentation. For all her professed purity, Belinda is found to be secretly in love with the Baron. And herein consists what may be called her "fall". When the sylphs warn her of the approaching scissors and the danger to her hair, she seems to be indifferent to the warning. A thousand spirits of the air rush to her to guard her...
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