The Rape of the Lock

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"The New Star," Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for The Rape of the Lock

The Rape of the Lock is a poem written by Alexander Pope, mocking heros and heroines. It was first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany in May 1712.

Poem[change | change source]

The poem is sarcastically laughing at the epic world of the gods. It was based on an incident that was remembered by Pope's friend, John Caryll. Arabella Fermor and Robert Petre were both from Catholic families at a time in England when Anglicanism was very important. Petre, lusting after Arabella, had cut a lock of her hair to keep without permission, which made the two families have a big argument. This was because in those days, cutting off a lock of the lover's hair was scandalous and symbolized improper love. Pope, also a Catholic, wrote the poem to make the two families reconcile and be happy again. He made the character Belinda to represent Arabella in the poem.

Pope's poem mocks all the traditions of classics. Although the poem is funny at times, Pope keeps a sense that beauty is fragile, and that just because Belinda loses a lock of her hair she is very deeply hurt.

Three of Uranus's moons are named after characters from The Rape of the Lock: Belinda, Umbriel, and Ariel.[1]

Arabella Fermor (1696-1737)

Other websites[change | change source]

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