Titel: Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"
Autoren/Herausgeber: Daniela Esser
Ausgabe: 1., Auflage
Seminar paper from the year 2001 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: very good, University of Paderborn (Anglistics), course: 18th-Century English Satires: Swift and Pope, 20 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The success of his Essay on Criticism (published in 1711) brought Pope a wider circle of friends, notably Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, who were then collaborating on the journal The Spectator. To this journal Pope contributed the most original of his pastorals, “The Messiah” (1712). He was clearly influenced by The Spectator’s policy of correcting public morals by witty admonishment, and in this vein he wrote the first version of his mock-epic, The Rape of the Lock (two canto version, 1712; five canto version, 1714), to reconcile two Catholic families. It was John Caryll who brought the family quarrel to the attention of Pope. Lord Petre had stolen a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor’s hair, which caused an animosity between the Petres and the Fermors, who had lived in great friendship before. Caryll had been staying with Lord Petre at Ingatestone in Essex, which was the assumed setting of the ‘rape’.1 “Caryll suggested that Pope should ‘write a poem to make a jest of it, and laugh them together again’.”2 Pope treated the dispute between the families as though it were comparable to the mighty quarrel between Greeks and Trojans, which had been Homer’s theme. Telling the story with all the pomp and circumstance of epic made not only the participants in the quarrel but also the society they lived in seem ridiculous.
“The Rape owes its richness and resonance to its overstructure of powerful, dangerous motifs.”3 With this opinion, Warren rejects the romantic view of the Rape as a ‘filigree artifice’ of the play with the fires of sex and religion, and he substantiates his argument with the notion that religion in Pope’s mock-epic is replaced by the Baron’s and Belinda’s “altars to Pride and Love”.
1 Cf. eg. Cunningham, J. S.: Pope: The Rape of the Lock. London: Edward Arnold Ltd., 1970 (1st ed. 1961), p. 9f. Hereafter cited as: Cunningham, J. S.: Pope: The Rape of the Lock.
2 Notes to The Rape of the Lock in: Pope, Alexander: The Rape of the Lock. In: Alexander Pope. A selection of his finest poems (Oxford Poetry Library). Ed. Pat Rogers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 185. Hereafter cited as: Pope, Alexander: The Rape of the Lock.
3 Warren, Austin: “The Rape of the Lock as Burlesque.” (Extract) In: Critics on Pope. Readings in Literary Criticism (series). Ed. Judith O’Neill. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1973, p. 81.