Epic Elements In The Rape Of The Lock

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Pope”s use of mock-epic form in “The Rape of the Lock”

In general the term epic conventions can be defined as the literary devices employed in the epic poetry of the great epics of Homer’s Iliad, Vergil’s Enid, Horace’s and Dante’s divine Comedy to explore the thematic issues which elevates the portrayals of the heroic characters that are showcased on a higher pedestal as their heroic deeds are of greater significance to their contemporary societies. On the contrary, the Augustan poets employed the same conventions of the great epics with a view to satirize the trivial subjects which were being measured against the moral standards of human potential and insight that were prominently visible in the Augustan aristocracy and the powerful.
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The great epic Iliad deals with the prolonged battle between the Greek and the Trojan heroes while the Odysseus describes the action of the Odysseus one of the Greek kings in the war of Troy. But the Heroine in The poem The Rape of the lock is placed on a heroic stance by taking the subject as trivial but treated her in a heroic way Belinda is charmed when “gay ideas crowd the vacant brain/While peers, and dukes, and all their sweeping train/And garters, coronets appear” (Canto I, ll. 83-85). The extravagant aristocratic inconsequential things distracts her thoughts from realities of life and filled it with garters, stars and emblems of nobility. And to highlight her trivial nature the poet further adds to it by saying that her mind is distracted by love and men. Pope appears to be saying that if Belinda appears to be trivial because society breeds her to be that way. However, one cannot ignore Pope’s condescending treatment of Belinda that runs throughout the poem. He mocks the frivolous everyday actions of Belinda by comparing these acts to the acts of an epic hero dressing for battle.: “Trembling begins the sacred rites of Pride/Unnumbered treasures ope at once, and here/The various offerings of the world appear” (Canto I, ll. 128-130) and he arms the her with combs, pins and cosmetics instead of real armor: “Here files of pins extend their shining rows/Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux/Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms” (Pope, Canto I, ll. 137-139). The only weapons she has are her make-up which are described in a negative manner as being “awful”. Pope even provides guardian sprits for Belinda’s material possessions, such as her earrings and her watch, because there is a fear of something dreadful happening. It is humorous that she fears for her material objects and does not

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