Rape of the lock

The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic narrative poem that is composed by Alexander Pope that is composed by Alexander Pope in 1712. Here we try to Explain all the Rape of the lock-in Easy way. Rape of The Lock

Think not, when a woman’s transient breath is fled

Think not, when a woman’s transient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead
Succeeding vanities she still regards
And though she plays no more, Overlooks the cards.

Explanations: Ariel after having summoned a dream to the sleeping eyes of Belinda appears before her in a vision and whispers into her ears that she is under the particular care of the spirits of the air.

He then gives her an account” of the origin of the various sorts of spirits and reveals to her that all spirits are the souls of women who once lived on earth. When a woman dies her earthly fashionable follies do not die with her. They are continued by their airy spirits.

All her vanities and pursuits of fashionable follies are preserved by her in her airy existence as a spirit. Just as in a game of cards while some women play, others who are old and infirm sit by and watch the game with keen interest.

So also while the living women indulge in their fashionable follies and frivolities, the disembodied spirit of a dead woman who can no more play her part on earth, takes deep interest from a distance.

Thus even after death, by taking a keen interest as spiritual bodies in the pleasure and pursuits of living women, women continue and cherish their old vanities and frivolities.

Comment: These lines indicate how Pope takes delight in deliberate ridicule and even offensive banter against ‘the little unguarded follies of female sex, beneath a thin cover of wit and pleasantry.

Leslie Stephen rightly said that the poem is in effect a satire upon feminine frivolity. Pope, therefore must be taken in those lines not simply to fling a sarcasm on the frivolities of living women of his s but to brand the very soul of women with the stigma of inalienable vanity.

Living or dead, a woman is necessarily pr to fashionable follies and vain frivolities.

Explanation of the Rape of The Lock

Rape of the Lock
Rape of the Lock

Oft-when the world imagine women stray

Oft-when the world imagine women stray,
The sylphs thro’ mystic mazes guide their way,
Thro’ all the giddy circle they pursue,
And old impertinence expel by new,

Explanation: After giving a satiric description of the follies and vanities of the fashionable women of his time, Pope here describes the various methods which the sylphs adopt to protect the ladies under their care.

When people think that women are indulging in frivolities and thus deviating from the right path, the sylphs keep them company to bring them out of the bewildering intricacies of a pleasure-seeking life. Rape of the Lock

When these women are entangled in the whirl of fashionable pleasures, these sylphs protect them from their loss of virtue and help them in driving out old extravagance, silliness, foolery, and nonsense by indulging in the new ones.

Here extravagant pleasures of life which are apt to spoil the women are compared to the intricate figure of Dance The comparison is suggestive of the fact that dances were the most potent sources of corruption among the fashionable men and women of the day.

With varying vanities from every part

With varying vanities, from every part,
They, swift the moving toyshop of their heart;
Where wigs with wigs, with a sword – knots sword-knots strive.
Beaux banish beaux and coaches drive.

Explanation: In this line, s the poet describes the function of the sylphs. Owing to their contrivance the soft-hearted maidens reject one suitor in preference to another. When they are about to yield to the desire of one, there appears another boy whose charm they are fascinated by. Thus’ the fascination exercised by the lack of one lover is counteracted by the greater fascination of another lover.

Every young woman surrenders her virtue to all over who gives her some entertainment if the effects of the entertainment were not counteracted by a dance party arranged by a rival lover. If the lady is fascinated by the fine conversation of Florio, she is soon allured by Damon who warmly presses her hand.

In this, way they constantly shift their heart with all its vanities and frivolities from one person to another. This interesting competition among young men for ladies’ love is created by the sylphs. They instigate them to oust one another from his sweetheart’s favor.

Thus the hearts of women became vanity shop waiver-changing articles for sale. Their hearts are fickle and full of light frivolous pleasures which are constantly changing.

Comment– Pope here has in mind the words of Addison in say Dissection of a Coquette’s Heart’ “Fans, silks, ribbons, laces, and gewgaws lay so thick together, the heart was nothing else but a toyshop”. – The Spectator.

Or, as Ixion fix’d the wretch shall feel

Or, as Ixion fix’d the wretch shall feel
the giddy motion of the whirling mill,
in fumes of burn, ing chocolate shall glow,
and tremble at the sea that forths below!

Explanation: After assigning duties to the various sylphs for the protection of Belinda, Ariel here threatens them with the characteristic punishments that they will receive if they are found neglecting their duties.

The offender will be liable to punishment in one way or the other. Among the various modes of afflicting these sylphs are described a few that are most dreadful. The offender will be tied to the tiny wheel of the chocolate mill which the ladies turn in grinding cocoa seeds to obtain cocoa.

There held fast, as Ixion was fixed fast to a wheel in hell, the sylph will turn round and round so that his head will reel. Or, he may be thrust into the hot foam arising from the vessel boiling cocoa and made to bum in it while he will have to look with infinite horror on the seething and foamy liquid below him from which the vapor rises.


(1) The description of these punishments to be meted out to the careless sylphs is exquisitely fanciful. Its humor is yet made pungent with satire. The neglectful sylphs will be punishing of the very articles of female luxury over which they are to keep guard.

(2) Ixion– According to a Greek legend, Ixion king, of Thessaly tried to seduce Hera, Queen of heaven. For this offer, since he was struck with the thunderbolt of Zeus, king of the gods, hurl ed, into hell, and there fixed to a revolving wheel to turn and turn forever. Like Ixion, the spirit will be chained to a chocolate mill and will turn there round and round.

The Rape of The Lock

Rape of the Lock
Rape of the Lock

One speaks the glory of the British queen.

One speaks the glory of the British queen.
And one describes a charming Indian Screen,
A third interprets motion, looks, and eyes,
At every word a reputation dies.

Explanations: Belinda and her friends landed from the barge at Hampton and went into the Court, a royal place, where ministers help their cabinet meetings and Queen Anne herself met her ministers. Rape of The Lock

There the lords and the ladies were busy in idle gossips. Some were talking of the pomp and splendor of the British Queen while others were praising the wonderful designs of Japanese curtains. Another gentleman was giving a malicious interpretation to the ladies’ motions, looks, and eyes in order to conclude that they are in love with such and such persons.

These aristocratic youths and ladies indulge in malicious scandals so violently that each word of their conversation consigns to infamy a person (male or female) who is important in the public eye. To fill the intervals between conversations some take snuff, some flutter their fans, some hum a tune the of song, some laugh, and some exchange amorous glances.

The lines give a beautiful picture of court life, during the reign of Queen Anne. Snuff taking was a fashion of the day. In 1702, the Duke of Ormond seized vast quantities of snuff from Spain, and snuff-taking gained a sudden impetus.

It was, in Pope’s time, the custom to offer snuff boxes to each other as a sign of greeting. Keeping of fans was also a popular fashion with the ladies. Addison has written a beautiful essay on “The Fluttering of Fan”. Such references make The Rape of the Loas a page ‘torn from the petty pleasure-seeking fashionable society.

Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain

Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain,
Roar’d for the Handkerchiefief that causes his pain.
But see how oft ambitious aims are crossed
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost!

Explanation: In the mock-epic, the battle is shown between the party of Belinda and that of the Barn; the latter gives in at the point of the former’s hairpin. After the battle is over in favor of Belinda, she cries in rage to get her lock back.

Belinda’s roar forming with rage for the demand of her lock is so ferocious that it outdoes the ferocity of Othello’s furious thunder with which he had demanded his handkerchief from Desdemona.

Othello is the hero in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, who having been befooled by the cunningly devised plot logo ago, the Villain of the play, easily believes that her beloved wife, Desdemona has presented the handkerchief as a gift of love to Cassio with whom she was propagated to have fallen in love. Rape of The Lock

And the savage Moor that Othello was cried in agony and rage for the handkerchief. Pope says that the loud and enraged vociferation of the credulous Othello was bedimmed by that of Belinda. The Slaughter-provoking mock-anger of Belinda cannot be compared to the soul-stirring tragedy of Othello. Rape of The Lock

But the readers should not forget that Pope is writing only the mock-epic and the very unsuitable comparison of the trifle with grand tragedy is enough for provoking in the readers, especially of the eighteenth century, the uproarious laughter. This is enough to show how deft Pope was at devising the scheme for the mock-epic.

But the Lock was not restored to Belindespiteher passionate efforts, for it had to set, according to the opinions, in the heavenly moon. Our ardent wishes are often baffled. The great warriors fight feverishly for the prize but it often happens that the wealth for which they fight, goes beyond their reach.

It seems, perhaps, that the gods do not wish that the mortal millions should get their heart’s feverish longing fulfilled. Our purposes are crossed and baffled; only the will of the gods prevails’).

This Lock the muse shall consecrate to fame

This Lock the muse shall consecrate to fame
And? Midst the stars inscribe Belinda’s name.

Explanations: Pope, in the end, asks Belinda not to fan her face, like a faded lily in a drooping air of defiance, for the poet says, she is more fortunate than the millions of damsels with the ‘tresses that fair head boasts. The lock of Belinda has found a heavenly set in the divine lodge of the moon. Rape of The Lock

The beautiful dazzling look has been glorified by the position it has on and has added a new luster to the starry heaven with its ravishing beauty. This is enough for the unnumbered beautiful ladies of the world who bear in their hearts envy with the fate of Belinda’s lock. Rape of The Lock

Rape of the Lock
Rape of the Lock

When mortal beautiful maidens with their beautiful tresses shall be mixed forever with the earth from which they sprang, the beautiful lock of Belinda shall always be shining and shedding its glory from the moon. Rape of The Lock

Her lock has been consecrated and immortalized by the heavenly Muse of the poet and her name has been counted with the immortal stars. The stars have been shaded by the gods, to write her name in the list of the immortals.

Belinda, therefore, should not be sorry for the rape of her lock but should be exulting in joy. She need not chase the shooting stars. She is one with immortal stars.

Whether the nymph shall break Diana’s law

Whether the nymph shall break Diana’s law,
Or some frail China jar receives a flaw:
Or stain her honor or her new brocade
Forget her pray’rs or miss a masquerade;
Or lose her heart; or necklace, at a ball
Or whether Heav’n has doom’d that Shock must fall.

Explanations: These lines occur in Canto II of Pope’s satire. The Rape of the Lock. These lines are a fine example of the parody of epic phraseology. They are the best illustration of what Hazlitt called. the triumph of the in significance’. Here little is made great and great little in order to produce the mock-her heroic effect. Rape of The Lock

Herein, the possible danger to the person of Belinda as apprehended by Ariel is mentioned. The poet suggests two alternative probabilities.s… Either Belinda shall lose her chastity or some china jar will receive an accidental crack.

Either she will inure her good name by submitting to some scandalous love affair, or she will receive some stain on her new silk press. Either she will forget to say her daily prayers or she will fail to attend a ball dance.

Either she will lose her heart of necklace are, or her lap-dog (shock) will die accidentally. The death of shock will be the greatest imaginable calamity of Belinda. Rape of The Lock

Read more from Rape of the Lock (click)


Rape of the Lock
Rape of the Lock

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.