The Rape of The Lock as a Mock-Epic

'The Rape of the Lock' as a Mock Epic 

'Rape of the Lock'as a mock epic

Introduction : Alexander Pope :-

Alexander Pope is the greatest poet of the neo- classical age.This age is marked by extensive use of satire. In the realm of mock epic Pope enjoys the same position and prestige as Milton enjoys in the Epic proper. Rape of the lock is his finest social satire on England. It is the finest mock epic poem of English Literature. Rape of the lock has won Pope more admirers than any other poem of his.

Poet Alexander Pope
The Rape of the Lock as a social satire
Born 21 may 1688, London
Died 30 may 1744, UK
Era Augustan, 18th century
Profession Poet, writer, translator
Genre Poetry, translations, Literary Criticism
Notable works The Dunciad, The Rape of the Lock, an essay on criticism

The Rape of the Lock as a Mock Epic:-

With the Rape of the lock we come to the Augustan writers' favourite literary form, the mock-epic. A mock epic is a kind of satirical writing in which lowly and commonplace subjects are described in an elevated style. By parody and deliberate misuse of heroic language and conventions, the satirist brings all features of an epic machinery to the exaltation of a trivial subject. The theme of the poem is simply the cutting of the lock of hair by a baron from the fair head of Balinda, a trivial subject unworthy of an epic treatment.

There has evolved some conventions which are kept in mind by the poets while writing an epic. Similarly, mock epic poets also follow these conventions but their subject matter is insignificant. In rape of the lock we find a copy of epic conventions that had evolved since middle ages. Let's have a look at these conventions followed by Pope in his poem rape of the lock :-

1) The title of the poem :-

Epics have a grand title. The title of the rape of the lock is highly suggestive. The poem's name suggests as if it is built on a heroic event but it's story is trivial, delivering into a mock epic.

2) The invocation :-

One of the convention of an epic is that it begins with the invocation of a Muse and the statement of purpose. We see similar convention in the Rape of the lock.

3) Parody of athletic games :-

Another convention followed in mock epics is a  grand description of glorious battles or wars. The card game and the general war between the two factions are the parody of epic style.

4) The heightened language :-

The language, with rape of the lock is dealt with, is  an conscious Imitation of the heightened epic style. Pope himself said, "the use of pompous expressions for low action is a perfection of a mock-epic."

5) Use of epic simile :-

In epics similes are abound. Pope is no exception to this. He compares Balinda to a divinity. The theft of hair is considered an act of sacrilege and its final elevation to the skies makes Balinda a permanent symbol of love.

6) The supernatural spirit :-

Machinery is an essential part of the equipment of an epic poem. In rape of the lock, Pope derived its supernatural machinery from established mythology.

7) The epic emotions:-

Epics have certain highlighted emotions such as those of love, heroism and sacrifice. These emotions are present in the rape of the lock as well.

Thus, rape of the lock remains one of the grand and finest  mock epics of English literature. The trivial subject matter, insignificant theme, puny characters and elevated and exaggerated sentiments allow the rape of the lock to stand out as one of the best mock-epics. Pope's ultimate fame rests on this major mock epic.

For Similar articles :-

1)Super Natural Machinery in the Rape of the lock.

2) Rape of the lock as a Mock-Epic.

3) Paradise Lost as an Epic.

4) Character Sketch of Satan in Paradise Lost.

5) Rape of the lock as a social satire.

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