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“The Rape of the Lock” as a mock epic

“The Rape of the Lock” as a mock epic
Question: ( 2 ) : Consider the poem ‘The Rape of the Lock’ as a mock epic.
Answer: Mock epic is a narrative poem which aims at mockery and laughter by using almost all the characteristic features of an epic but for a trivial subject. Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” is a famous mock-epic. In it, there are invocation to Muses, proposition of subject, battles, supernatural machinery, journey on water, underworld journey, long speeches, feasts (coffee house), Homeric similes and grand style but all for a simple family dispute instead of a national struggle. The grand treatment of a low subject produces hilarious laughter and makes the story more ridiculous.
Firstly, “Paradise Lost” a long epic poem by John Milton begins with the proposition of justification of God’s way to man with nice invocation to the Muses. And another epic poem titled “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser follows the same manner. The subject matters in both of the epic poems are grand. Like the epic poems, the poem “The Rape of the Lock” opens with the proposition of the subject matter and Pope’s invocation to the Muses to help him compose the literary art. Such a grand treatment of a trivial subject matter like the clipping of the lock of Belinda provokes laughter when the poet says:
“I sing – this verse to Caryll, Muse! Is due:
This, ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:”
Secondly, in “The Iliad”’, Homer describes in considerable detail the armor and weaponry of the great Achilles, as well as the battlefield trappings of other heroes. In the poem “The Rape of the Lock” Pope describes Belinda preparing herself with combs and pins – with “Puffs, Powders, Patches” – nothing that “Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms.” This is nothing but funny.
Thirdly, the ritual sacrifices the Baron performs in the pre-dawn hours are another mock-heroic element of the poem, mimicking the epic tradition of sacrificing to the gods before an important battle or journey, and drapes his project with an absurdly grand import that actually only exposes its triviality. The fact that he discards all his other love tokens in these preparations reveals his capriciousness as a lover. Earnest prayer, in this parody scene, is replaced by the self-indulgent sighs of the lover.
“Then prostrate falls and begs with ardent eyes
Soon to obtain and long possess the prize:”
Fourthly, an epic poem must contain episodes also. In keeping with this practice Pope has introduced the episodes of the game of Omber which suggests the mighty battle and the cards imply the soldiers described in great detail. Then there is the battle between the lords and ladies just like the battles in epic poetry. But in true mock-heroic style this battle is fought with fans and snuff instead of with swords and spears. There are single combats also between Belinda and the Baron and between Clarissa and Sir Plume. This symbolises nothing but a battle of sexual perversion near Hampton Court just the opposite to the mighty battles that we find in “The Aneid” and in “The Faerie Queene” Red Cross Knight’s battle with the monster Error.
Fifthly, another vital element of an epic poem is the active participation of supernatural machinery just as Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, who rescues Aeneas in “The Iliad” when he is attacked by Diomedes. In “The Rape of the lock”, there are the sylphs and gnomes. These aerial spirits are small and insignificant things, and are, therefore, exactly in keeping with the triviality of the theme. They guard the person of the heroine and when there is fight between the followers of Belinda and those of the Baron, they take part in fight, like gods and goddesses in the Trojan War. Pope has described the protecting sylphs under Ariel. In that the sylphs are the parodies of epic deities.
Sixthly, a long perilous journey on water is a must in an epic. But here in the poem Belinda takes a comfortable journey on water without any tension and peril. She travels up the Thames in a boat to join Hampton Court to play the game of Omber adorning her attractively.
Seventhly, it is another important event of epic to take an underworld journey. It is generally done in order to take some effective pieces of advice from the lower world, Hades. Like supernatural beings in classical epics, a gnome named Umbriel descends to the Underworld on Belinda’s behalf and obtains a bag of sighs and a vial of tears from the Queen of Spleen. With these magical gifts, he means to comfort poor Belinda. First, he empties the bag on her in stead. The reversal of the epic quality is nothing but mocking in tone.
“Repair’d to search the gloomy cave of Spleen.
Swift on his sooty pinions flits the gnome,”
Eighthly, the mock-heroic character of the poem is perceived in the very title. Rape is a serious moral offence which means the violation of a woman’s chastity by force. It also refers to the seizure of a lady by some ruffians in grossly inhuman manner. In any case, rape is a grave crime, affecting the social decency of a human being. Pope has used this term in an amusing manner. The possession of the hair of Belinda by the Baron is described by him in a mock vein. The title evokes nothing but the mock heroic sensation and well indicates the mock-heroic character of Pope’s work.
Ninthly, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aneid all end happily for their respective heroes, though perhaps at the expense of their enemies. Pope, wisely following his own advice, likewise concludes the poem with a mocking consolation to Belinda that:
“This lock, the Muse shall consecrate to fame,
And mid’st the stars inscribe Belinda’s name!”
Pope’s ending is just one example of how he mocks society through epic form, as well as mocks earlier literary works. A lock of hair is a ridiculous object to eternally memorialize.
From above discussion, it becomes clear that Pope follows the epic conventions of Homer, Dante and Virgil very minutely but for trivial a matter and he has heightened the title, exalted the insignificant, in order to make the little and the insignificant look more ridiculous. He employs the mock-heroic form, not to mock the epic form, but to show the triviality of mean things by contrasting them with great things. This is the true mock-heroic style. So it can be undoubtedly said that the poem “The Rape of the Lock” is a successful mock-epic.
TOrtoise care start
A desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) diet is comprised mainly of safe grasses and weeds, leafy greens, with small amounts of hard vegetables and moist fruits. A good basic salad can be prepared a week in advance and fed daily with selections from the following served in addition to it.
All tortoises need pesticide- and herbicide-free forage (grasses and weeds) for grazing. You can grow your own in your backyard and let your tortoises graze on it, after first making sure your yard is escape-proof. Another way is to build a safe pen or corral for the tortoises, and seed it with the forage. You can make it more decorative by planting edible ornamental plants around the perimeter and inside. Information on edible and harmful plants can be found at my Plant Information & Identification page. For tortoises that must be kept inside during inclement weather, you can seed nursery flats with the seeds and let them graze on them or take cuttings for them.
If you feed your tortoises too much of the foods that should be fed in relatively small amounts or occasionally, you risk causing health problems, ranging from diarrhea to kidney disease. There apparently has been a problem with people not reading this entire page, so I have reorganized it to put the emphasis on the forage.
85% Grasses and weeds; dark, leafy greens; cactus…
Grasses and Weeds
Foraging Mix
Alfalfa hay or pellets
Bermuda grass
Fresh clover
Clover hay
Rye grass
Rice grass
Dead Plants
Don’t be an overly fastidious groundskeeper. Tortoises enjoy munching on dried brown leaves and stalks as much as they do the fresh plant. Top off your edible greens and ornamentals and drop them in the tortoise pen; depending on their mood, the tortoises will eat them fresh or ignore them until they are nice and brittle.
Leafy Greens
These should make up no more than half (and ideally much less) of your tortoise forage:
Dandelion greens and flowers
Grape leaves
Mustard greens
Turnip greens
* These are high in calcium oxalates that may bind calcium causing metabolic bone disease, and may cause visceral gout (mineralization/crystallization of the soft tissues and internal organs). Feed sparingly. ** These are high in goitrogens, which impair thyroid function when fed in excess. Feed sparingly.
Don’t feed at all as they have little or no nutrition:
Iceberg lettuce
Boston lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Red- and Green-leaf lettuce
Opuntia cactus pads and flowers (high in water content)
15% Vegetables…
Acorn squash
Bell Peppers, red and green
Butternut squash
Green beans
Potatoes (cooked, plain)
Pumpkin and other winter squash
Rice (cooked, plain)
Snow peas
Sweet potatoes
**These are high in goitrogens, which impair thyroid function when fed in excess. Feed sparingly.
Feed sparingly as these are low in nutrition
Sprouts (alfalfa, bean, and grain)
Occasional foods
Apples (no seeds)
Apricots (no pits)
Avocados (no pits or leaves)
Cantaloupe (with scrubbed rind)
Mangos (no pit)
Oranges (not for hatchlings)
Papayas (ripe, no seeds)
Peaches (no pit)
Pears (no seeds)
Tomatoes (not for hatchlings)
Mixed Veggie Salad
The following, based on my green iguana salad, can be fed occasionally:
1/2 cup shredded raw green beans
1/2 cup shredded raw squash (acorn, butternut, banana, kabocha, pumpkin, summer)
1/2 cup shredded raw parsnip
3/4 cup alfalfa pellets or 1/8 cup alfalfa powder from the health food store
1/4 cup fruit
Mix thoroughly together. Add in or sprinkle on salad a multivitamin supplement and a calcium supplement as recommended. Store in a sealed food storage container. Stays fresh for 6-7 days. Additional quantities may be frozen. Add a pinch of thiamine to the defrosted salad to replace the thiamin lost through the defrosting process
…and flowers and houseplants for grazing treats.
For more information on edible and harmful plants, please see the Plant Information & Identification page.
Ficus benjamina (note: the milky sap may be irritating to skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract).
Hibiscus flower and leaves
Nasturtium flowers and leaves
Rose petals and leaves
Snail vine (Vigna caracalla)
Sunlight is critical for proper growth. The UVA promotes normal behavior and appetite; the UVB is necessary to enable the animal to synthesize vitamin D3, a substance crucial to calcium metabolization. Be sure, however, to provide some shade. Being too hot is just as dangerous as being too cold. If regular direct sunlight cannot be provided for them, you must use UVB-producing fluorescent lights daily.
…and Water
Always have fresh water available for drinking. A large shallow bowl is best, one they can access but not accidentally tip into and possibly drown. Leopards, radiated and all hatchlings are at risk for drowning or suffocating if they tip over onto their backs and are unable to right themselves.
Related Articles
Tortoise Foraging Mix
Plant Information & Identification – includes links to edible and harmful/toxic plant lists
Vegetable and Fruit Name Translations
MK Salad – An Illustrated Reference
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