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The Rape of the Lock Is Social Satire.

By raquebarshad May 28, 2010 881 Words
“THE RAPE OF THE LOCK”---SATIRE ON FEMININE FRIVOLITY: Social satire predominates in the work of Alexander pope. At a casual glance we can judge that the most of his work is satire on society. Satire is a way to criticize and condemn society for its evils. In fact it is a reaction to the moral indignation. Satire is a cynic way of depicting society. Dryden says that a satirist is no mere enemy of the offender than a physician to the patient. He prescribes the harsh remedies of inveterate diseases. Alexander Pope presented his age particularly social life of that age very successfully. The poem “The Rape of the Lock” is a masterpiece of satire on the aristocracy of that age. Lowell says that Pope is the poet of society as Shakespeare is the poet of man. Pope so keenly observed his society and its evils and the portrayed it with a success. He has a keen observation of the moral corruption prevailing in society. “The rape of the lock” is a real picture of the condition of the age. It has an immortal fame in the English literature. The satire in “The rape of the lock” is directed not against any individual but against the follies and vanities of the fashionable men and women in general. The object of Pope writing this poem was to conciliate two quarreling families. But as the poem continued, he forgot the real motive of the poem and satirized female follies and frivolities instead. Belinda is not only a girl but a representative of the aristocratic ladies. She is the caricature of the ladies of the higher class. She is the symbol of follies and frivolities of the ladies of the age. Through her character, Pope has satirized frivolities of the women. “The rape of the lock” is not only the satire on feminine frivolities but it also gives us glimpse of the youth of the Age of pope. Byron represents on Peter alone but shows that the young men in that time were so flirt and frivolous that they had forgotten the real motive and objective of their lives. The strange battle between the two shows what type of they people were. “The rape of the Lock” is a satire on the upper class of the 18th Century. When we observe the 18th Century upper class code of morality we see that the whole society was indulged in moral bankruptcy. The morality that Pope upholds is based on restraint, gentleness, decorum and rationality and reason. The poem is based on the story of quarrel between the families of Miss Arabella Former and Peter lord. Mr. Caryll, one of the common friends asked pope to write some poems which can decrease their ill-feelings. In a very general sense, “The Rape of the lock” is a satire according to the above mentioned criterion. It is not a satire on the whole contemporary society but a particular class of the society. The poem is the satire on the leisured lords and ladies of the wealthy aristocratic class. The most satirical lines are that which show Belinda’s waking from sleep. She sleeps till noon. Her lap dog licks her face and awakes her. She like the other aristocaratic ladies of the 18th century is frustrated and yearns for sexual pleasure; keeps awake till late at night with her lap dog in the arms and sleeps till noon in the day. It was a common practice among the young gallants and lords to approach a sweet lady of the equal status. They proposed love and marriage to her. And it was at the will of the lady to accept or reject this amorous offer. It was customary to play flirt among men and the women alike. The young men used amorous display and made show of their wealth and valour, while the ladies tried to deceive them and rob of their money. They played card games and bet their costly things over it. Pope satirically writes these lines about card games between the men and the women that these ladies even bet their honour and dignity over minor things of no value. Belinda and Baron fly to the extremity of passion in such amorous play that they look ridiculous. Pope has also satirized the system of courts and judges of the 18th century. He says that at 4, O, Clock in the afternoon the judges hurriedly sign the sentences and rush to their homes for dinner in time. This was their sense of responsibility and punctuality. Pope has also criticized the concept of friendship. Friends in that age were hollow and useless. Belinda’s friend Thalestris is as shallow as the age in which she lives. As soon as the chastity of Belinda is gone by the rape of her lock, Thalestris leaves her and does not want to be called her friend. To conclude we can say that the poem “The Rape of the lock” is a delicate playful, humourous, original and witty satire on the aristocratic men and women of the age. Although it is genius and genial criticism yet it is a deadly satire. Pope has not only exposed the follies and frivolities of the aristocratic class but also ridiculed them.

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