The Rape of the lock as a Social Satire

 The Rape of the Lock as a Social Satire

πŸ“ƒContents Table :-

πŸ“„ Introduction : Alexander Pope :-

Alexander Pope was a great literary figure of 18th century England. The period is categorised as Neo Classical age and is marked by extensive use of satires. His rape of the lock is a finest social satire on the contemporary English society.
Alexander Pope
Profile
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
Alexander Pope is a poet of society, he used satire to expose the evils of the society of the day. He attacked the false standards that English society of 18th century had. Pope is mainly concerned with the aristocratic way of life; targeting  fashionable aristocratic men and women, their natures, young boys and girls and their free time activities.

The Rape of the lock as a satire
Source: Picryle.com

πŸ“What is a Satire?

Satire is an art of exposing folly and frivolities or wickedness by mocking it. Pope made a wonderful use of the weapon of satire. For him it was a moral art. His satires differ from that of Dryden, in this regard, as Dryden made no pretentious to a moral purpose.

✒️Rape of the Lock as a Satire:-

Rape of the lock is essentially a social satire, it does not contain any personal attack but on the whole society of England. It is an impersonal satire at its best where Pope satirizes contemporary manners and morals of English society. It is not directed against Arabella Fermor but by her character as Balinda in the poem, Pope targets the weaknesses which she shares with all female kind.

1) Satire on female vanity :-

Rape of the lock is an provoking satire on the vanities and frivolities of women of urban 18th century England. Pope depicts Balinda as an exquisite beauty and her concerns far from being serious; concentrated on petty, trivial and frivolous things. 

Pope redicules her perverted life style. He informs us that she woke up 'just at twelve'. 

He tries to suggest that Balinda's way of living is not different from that of animals. He satirises Balinda more for her distorted way of life than for her intellectual shallowness. Though Balinda is aware of her grotesque way of life, she doesn't change it, as after the rape of her lock we find her lamenting:

"What moved my mind with youthful loads to roam?

Oh had I stayed, and said my prayers at home!"

2) Satire on Nature of men and husband-wife :-

Rape of the lock is a satire against the distorted moral values of the polite society. Pope here satirizes men's weak nature on beauty. Man can sacrifice everything at beauty, even most clever man behaves absurdly when it comes to beauty . 

Pope also satirises the married couples of the day. Husbands always think of their wives marry-making with their lovers. Besides, wives are not virtuous either. Their lap dog is more dear to them than their husbands.

 American Literature (click below πŸ‘‡)
Important Questions and links
Walt Whitman as a democracy poet
Summary of Emerson's Essay Self Reliance.
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience Summary.
Emerson as an Essayist.
Yank as a Tragic Hero | Character Sketch of Yank.
Edward Said as a Critic| Orientalism.

3) Satire On Judiciary:-

Pope also targets the judiciary of the day. Judiciary of the day was a very corrupt institution. The judges and jurymen were not concerned with their job of imparting justice but with having their lunch at a proper time. The lack of any hesitation or scruples on their part is evident from these lines:-

"The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,

And wretches hang that jury men may dine."

4) Satire on Sexuality :-

Pope seeks to expose the sexuality of middle aged women, who now have hallucinations :

"Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works,
And maids turned bottles, called aloud for corks".

Even she invites people to her bedroom in order to show and get praise for her newly purchased gown.

In such a society, the degradation of reputation at every word spoken is natural. That's why Clarissa asks women to preserve through good sense what beauty had gained to them.
British Literature (Click Here πŸ‘‡)
Shakespeare: The Tempest Summary & Characters.
Character Sketch of Ariel (The Tempest).
Character Sketch of Caliban (The Tempest).
Shakespeare's Tragedy King Lear: plot & Summary.
Character Sketch of Cordelia (King Lear).
Importance of Sub-plot in King Lear.

πŸ“„ Conclusion :-

Thus, Rape of the lock not only exposes the vanities and frivolities of the 18th century fashionable ladies, it is equally devastating satire on the other aspects of the contemporary society as well. It mirrored various aspects of contemporary social life, manners and morals. 

The occasion, an actual theft of the lock, offered  Pope an opportunity to ridicule and mock the contemporary society which he had wittily executed through his masterpiece.

πŸ’‘Read More in English Literature :-

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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