The Rape of the Lock as a Social Satire

        Discuss The Rape of the Lock as a Social Satire

It is well known to all that Pope is a poet of society and “The Rape of the Lock” is one of his best social documentary creations where he has shown the activities of contemporary society and it also plays as the mirror of that society because different types of things of the society are reflected here in the symbolic way.  

Poetic satire may be regarded as didactic poetry or the object. Most of the people think that satire is the criticism of life and an exposure of human weaknesses, follies, absurdities and shortcomings. The satirist uses humor, wit, mockery, ridicule and irony to achieve his goal – his moral end. 

The whole prospect of “The Rape of the Lock” revolves around the false standard of 18th century. Pope caricatures the young girls and boys, aristocratic women and men, their free time activities, nature of husbands and wives, the professional judges and politicians of the day.

By the character of Belinda Pope has shown us the style of the artistic family of that age. Here we have observed that the whole life of Belinda is confined to sleeping, make-up, enjoyment and alluring the lords and there is no inspirational element in her life. This life is marked by ill-nature, affection, mischievousness, coquetry, yielding and submissive nature, fierce and unruly nature, infidelity, cheapness, meanness, trivialities and frivolities etc. Belinda represents all the fashion struck women, busy in such stupidities.

The satire in the Rape of the Lock is directed not against any individual, but against the follies and vanities in general of fashionable men and women. Pope has started writing this poem to reconcile two quarreling families but as the poem progressed and he has forgotten his original intention and satirized female follies and vanities. Belinda is not Arabella Fermore. She is the type of the fashionable ladies of the time and in her the follies and frivolities of the whole sex is satirized. 

Pope satirizes man’s nature and it is always weak at beauty. Men sacrifice everything at the altar of beauty and even the most intelligent man behaves foolishly when he fall a victim to beauty.

According to the concept of Pope, man’s favorite activity is to take suffered women to play with fan. There is singing, dancing, laughing, ogling, etc. and nothing else where women are always busy alluring the dukes and lords. The poet again reflects the hollowness of men in the character of Sir Plume who is coward, foolish and senseless, lacking courage. Women are on the whole irresolute and they have made toyshops of their hearts.

Pope also satirizes of the husbands and wives of the day. It is true that husbands always suspect their wives and they think that their wives have been merry making with their lovers. It is also true that wives are not virtuous at all for their husbands because they love their lap-dogs more than their husbands. And the death of husbands is not more shocking than the death of a lap dog or the breakage of a china vessel.

So it can be said the poem is a reflection of this artificial and hollow life, which is painted with a humorous and delicate satire. Pope’s satire is not only intellectual but also full of wit and epigram. It also paints the ideal life of the pleasure-seeking young men and women. So, we are introduced to a world of fashion and frivolities by it.


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