The Significance of Clarissa

Topics: Morality, Aesthetics, Value Pages: 2 (538 words) Published: March 26, 2006
Pope illustrates Clarissa's importance in The Rape of the Lock by giving her a big role in Canto 5. Clarissa's speech questions why beauty appears on a higher level when is does not have the power to cure diseases or keep one healthy. She points out that the society gears too much of their focus on beauty when qualities such as good sense and good humor are more important. Clarissa stresses that it is important to have moral values such as merit and good humor in order to have something to fall back upon since beauty does not last forever. Good humor and merit symbolize a form of power, and this is made clear when Clarissa points out that regardless of what is lost, good humor and merit will continue to succeed. Not only does Clarissa describe good humor as powerful, she emphasizes its importance by stating it will prevail even "When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail" (V, 32). This line portrays good humor as a precious quality, and it is a key reason why Clarissa makes her speech. She wonders why the world prioritizes beauty to be of primary importance, and voices her thoughts to show it is possible to have balance between beauty and other moral values. Clarissa's speech is significant because it states the moral of the poem: "Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; / Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul" (V, 33-34). These two lines not only represent the ending of Clarissa's speech, but it concludes her thoughts and states the message she wants to get across. It is evident how The Rape of the Lock portrays beauty to be on top, but Clarissa strongly shows there is more to life than beauty. For example, Clarissa addresses the importance of marriage when she says, "And she who scorns a man must die a maid" (V, 28). This line places a responsibility on women indicating it is important for them to maintain the level of other values such as good sense and good humor in order to gain acceptance. It is also significant...
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