RAPE OF THE LOCK by ALEXANDER POPE
To answer these questions regarding Rape of the Lock, you will need to locate a copy of the poem in full. The text may be found in THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.
1. Locate a definition of a literary epic (recall Paradise Lost ), and include in the definition explanations of the following terms: (HINT--CHECK OUT THE ON-LINE: STUDENT CURRICULUM LINKS): Note tthe following characteristics:
|epic question - invocation to the muse - epic simile - descent to the underworld - deus ex machina - macro/micro imagery - arming of the epic hero - allusion...
Special note on DEUS EX MACHINA: The Iliad and Odyssey
2. Next, look up a definition of an MOCK EPIC and its characteristics.
3. Compare the definitions of the LITERARY and MOCK epic, adding the following terms:
satire irony hyperbole understatement allusion heroic couplet NOTE: There is material on this page regarding the use of allusion by Pope...
4. Outline the "true" events that resulted in Pope writing this mock epic poem, and then for each canto of the RAPE OF THE LOCK, familiarize yourself with the following:
CANTO I: state the epic question / how does sun function as a metaphor and a motif / what are the sylphs? / use the information of allusion below and evaluate its use / characterize Belinda using the "point of view" technique.
CANTO II: trace the sun motif / what image dominates this Canto? Why? / How does Belinda behave in this canto?
CANTO III: continue to evaluate Belinda / describe the events leading to the "rape" / and its consequences / what is the significance of (Ombre) the card game? / who is Clarissa, and what is her role thematically. / evaluate use of macrocosm-microcosm imagery / note the importance of china imagery as a motif
CANTO IV: what is the cave of spleen? / how does allegory function? / who is Umbrial? / trace the motifs / look for epic characteristics
CANTO V: state the results of the "rape" and Pope's theme.
STUCK? TRY HERE!
CLASSICAL ALLUSIONS IN THE RAPE OF THE LOCK:
Pope was thoroughly familiar with the Greek and Roman classical epics, and here for online classical resources. Additionally he translated Homer from the Greek into heroic couplets. Note the use of this material in the Rape of the Lock:
Find references in Pope's poem that parallel these classical references:
1. ILIAD: Sing O Goddess, the anger of Achilles...that brought countless ills upon the Greeks. Many brave souls did it send hurrying down to hell, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs...the son of Atreus [Agamemnon] and great Achilles first fell out with one another. And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel. [NOTE: The quarrel that opens the Iliad also concerns a woman. Having to surrender Chryseis, daughter of Apollo's high priest Chryseis, Agamemnon demands Achilles' mistress Briseis in compensation. Enraged, Achilles surrenders her, but refuses to fight in the war to get Helen back. ]
2. ILIAD II: Now the other gods and the armed warriors on the plain slept soundly, but Zeus was wakeful, for he was thinking how to do honor to Achilles...in the end he deemed it would be best to send a lying dream to King Agamemnon. [NOTE: The dream is that if he attacks Troy immediately, he will win.]
3. PARADISE LOST: Recall the description of Eve and compare to Belinda.
4. AENEID II: In sleep it seemed to be [Aeneas] that sad Hector appeared before my eyes, pouring forth a flood of tears. [Hector said ] Ah, flee...and escape from these flames. The enemy holds these walls... Troy is falling from its lofty height.
5. ILIAD II: Then presently Agamemnon...put on his soft shirt so fair and new, and over this his heavy cloak. He bound his sandals on to his comely feet, and slung his silver-studded sword about his shoulders. Then he took the imperishable staff...[NOTE: this is the arming of the epic hero.]
6. AENEID VII: And now the sea was growing red with light, and from heaven the saffron Dawn was gleaming in her rosy chariot, when suddenly the winds died down and all their blowing ceased...Here Aeneas sighted from the weave a large grove, in the midst of this, the lovely stream of the Tiber with rapid whirlpools carrying much yellow sand rushed into the sea. Around and above, different kinds of birds...were charming the air with song...
7. ODYSSEY IX: ...my comrades-in-arms did me the special honor when the sheep were distributed of presenting me with the big ram in addition. Him I sacrificed on the beach, burning slices from the thighs as an offering to Zeus...who is lord of all.
8. ILIAD XVIII: First he [Vulcan] shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers, and the baldric was made of silver. He made the large shield in five thicknesses and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it. He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea... [NOTE: the shield was made for Achilles.]
The following passage is from Pope's translation of the Iliad. Relate it to Rape of the Lock:
Why boast we Glaucus, our extended reign,
Where Xanthus" streams enrich the Lycian plain?
Numerous herds that range each fruitful field,
And hills where vines their purple harvest yield?
Our foaming bowls with gen'rous nectar crown'd,
Our feasts enhanc'd with Musick's sprightly sound?
Why on those shores are we with joy survey'd
Admir'd as heroes, and as God's obey'd?
Unless great acts superior merit prove,
And vindictive the bounteous pow'rs above:
'Tis ours, the dignity they give, to grace,
The first in valor, as the first in place,
That while with wondering eyes our martial bands
Behold our deeds transcending our commands,
Such, they may cry, deserve the sov'reign state,
Whom those that envy dare not imitate!
Could all our care elude the greedy grave,
Which claims no less the fearful than the brave,
For lust of fame I should not vainly dare,
In fighting fields, nor urge thy soul to war.
But since alas ignoble age must come,
Disease and death's inexorable doom:
The life which others pay, let us bestow,
And give to fame what we to nature owe,
Brave, tho' we fall; and honour'd if we live,
Or let us glory gain, or glory give...
Quickly Sarpedon swung his shield before him...
And shaking a pair of spears went stalking out
Like a mountain lion starved for meat too long
To raid some storm proof fold, to go at the sheep
...All or nothing--He changes flocks
And halls off bloody prey or he's run through himself
At the first assault with a spear driven home..
Father Zeus held out his sacred golden scales
In them he placed two fates of death that lays men low--
One for the Trojan horsemen, one for the Argives armed,
And gripping the beam mid-half the father raised it high
And down went the Argive day of doom...
GENERAL GUIDES TO LITERATURE, CHRONOLOGIES, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHIES, AND SCRIPTURAL/THEOLOGICAL REFERENCES CURRICULUM LINKS
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