Essay: Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

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In both “The Rape of the Lock” and “Epistle to Miss Blount,” Alexander Pope presents a somewhat satirical and condescending view of women and their attitudes and behaviors.  In this brief essay, his views as found in these two poems will be compared.  It will be argued that Pope regarded women as vulnerable to a number of fairly foolish and often vainglorious foibles that rendered them somewhat silly in comparison to men.  This is not to say that Pope regarded males any more highly, however.

“The Rape of the Lock” is dedicated by Pope to Mrs. Arabella Fermor.  In the prologue or introduction to this work, Pope says that his purpose in writing this “heroic-Comical” poem was “to divert a few young ladies, who have good Sense and good Humor enough, to laugh not only at their Sex’s little unguarded Follies, but at their own (Pope, “The Rape of the Lock,” Prologue).

In the first Canto of this poem, Pope says that he is singing of the beauty of Belinda and describing how she is Fair and Innocent.  He also comments that one should “Think not, when Woman’s transient Breath is fled,/That all her Vanities at once are dead  (Pope, “The Rape of the Lock,” Canto I).

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