Formative Assessment 1 (Generic Transformations 2008 paper)
The Rape of the Lock, written by Pope in response to a feud between two friends about the theft of a lock of hair, is revolutionary in its evolution of the comic satire genre into the field of epic poetry. Pope, an avid student of the Greek epics (he produced his own translations of some that provided much of his income during his life), takes the basic skeleton of an epic: its structure, critical content and even linguistic points; and crafts around the skeleton a poem of wit and comedy that is at its core epic, but also uses this very epic backbone to undermine its tales own importance and to satirise the content that has been moulded around the form. This creation from Pope marks the offshoot of the epic genre, transforming it into mock epic, an independent genre that bears many of the traits of its forebearer in a new light. The transformations to the epic that Pope undertakes in the Rape of the Lock to satiric effect can be broadly split into transformations of heroic content and transformations of heroic language. The former can be clearly observed here: Pope takes a staple of epic writing, heroic weaponry, and twists its use to his satirical needs. The weapon itself is given, through the use of a similar description, equal place with great weapons like Agamemnon's sceptre, whose lineage was used to reinforce Agamemnon's dominance and power in the Iliad, being forged by Hephaestus and owned by the Gods from Zeus to Kronos. Belinda's weapons lineage is far less great. Instead of a scepter, the weapon of kings and priests in Homer's writing, Belinda wields a bodkin, a hair needle. Even that difference itself is satirical: Agamemnon's kingship is of great import to the Iliad so the parallel with a bodkin, which links to the hair in question much like the scepter links with kingship, makes a clear statement on the relative importance of the quarrel in the Rape of the Lock. The lineage too...
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