Heroism In Alexander Pope's The Rape Of The Lock

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A woman puts on her armor before battle. An army of guardians defend their goddess. The enemy wounds the hero, starting a war and handicapping her for eternity. These heroic metaphors create just a dent in Alexander Pope’s satirical epic The Rape of the Lock. In reality, the woman’s armor is her makeup, the guardians are just a group of ineffectual sprites, and a lock of hair is stolen from the hero’s head, causing a trifling temper tantrum. The Rape of the Lock can be compared to Beowulf in that it follows the guidelines of a heroic epic. However, The Rape of the Lock transforms the ideas of heroism by heavily satirizing it. The reason for this mocking lies in Pope’s society at the time the poem was written: a society that had fallen far below the standards of classical heroism and nobility that ancient epics usually consist of. It seemed as if Pope believed that epic tradition was unsuited to the ways that people behaved in his time, and should be adjusted accordingly. In The Rape of the Lock, Pope transforms heroism to fit his society by using the form of a heroic couplet to juxtapose the serious with the trivial. Pope’s competitive emulation with his muse John Milton kick started his alteration of the heroic epic; comparing The Rape …show more content…
Heroic epics contain heroic couplets, which consist of rhymed pairs of iambic pentameter. Pope uses this rhymed form to often juxtapose serious ideas with trivial ones. A great example of this is when the sprite Ariel worries about Belinda while she is at the party, “Whether the nymph shall break Diana’s law, / Or some frail china jar receive a flaw.” (Lines 105-106, Canto 2) These comparisons and contrasts can go from mildly trivial to absolutely brutal, “…tyrants fierce that unrepenting die, / …Cynthia when her manteau’s pinned awry.” (Lines 7-8, Canto 4) Pope is comparing the death of a tyrant to a woman’s pesky scarf that won’t stay

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