“The Rape of The Lock” as a Mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society
The poem was just a reconciliation note between the two parties. Subsequently, the poet rectified it and a small poem was converted into a mock epic. Many elements of an epic poem were added in it, due to which it has become a masterpiece. However, only the mock epic elements in this poem are not enough to make it wonderful among other poems of that era. “The Rape of the Lock”, although has universal appeal yet its beauty, lies within the description of contemporary English society of the eighteenth century. The poem has some limitations; it is somehow historical. It reflects the life of 18th-century aristocratic society.
Every person, portrayed in the poem, is aristocratic and belongs to either the class of lords or merchants; therefore, he is free from financial tensions. In the world, financial problem is the very first problem of every person. If a person is financially stable then he just wastes his time in useless activities. It is the case with the eighteenth century London society. With the easy flow of money, they have no other work but to enjoy every small and large gathering of their city.
“The Rape of The Lock” is a mirror to Aristocratic society of Eighteenth Century:
Alexander Pope has demonstrated this very fact in his poem “The Rape of the Lock”. Every single word of this poem sketches the customs of the eighteenth century. Thus, many critics have regarded it as a mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society of England. Primarily, this poem is a mock epic but its subject is the routine life of people like Lord Petre and Belinda. It was the time when people have an easy flow of money, due to which they used to live a luxurious life. Even the government officials used to waste their time in unworkable activities. They have nothing to do except backbiting, playing cards, gossips, and sex. Thus, from the poem, it can be established that society was morally corrupt society.
“The Rape of The Lock” Satire Vs. Reality:
It was also said that Alexander Pope has satirized the society of his era but many critics denied this fact. Nevertheless, they accepted that the poem is a satirical masterpiece besides an epic yet they were of the view that the poet has not primarily focused on the technique of satire. Hence, if there is satire in the poem it is unintentional, as the poet has just demonstrated the lifestyle of his own people. In other words, he has just portrayed reality.
The attitude of Young women in that era:
Numerous examples are there in the poem through which it can be established that the critics are right the effect that Alexander Pope has presented reality in his poem. Let us start with Belinda. She is an aristocratic lady and spends most of her time in brushing herself. Alexander Pope has very beautiful sketched the scene of preparing Belinda for the ball party. Her cosmetics have been brought from distant lands. Many hours goes waste in just preparing herself for the party. Moreover, from the whole poem, it seems that people focus mainly on the physical beauty of women. The most beautiful lady of bash can win the hearts of many lords; she has been treated as a goddess by young men; therefore, women consider it a sacred thing to prepare for the party; they have wasted half of their lives in brushing themselves. There was no concept of true love. Even it has no existence.
Importance of material things:
The aristocratic society used to change lovers and beloveds with clothes. Alexander Pope has described lapdog as a very important thing; more important than lovers. Thus, the lovers’ value was no more than a pet. There is no denying the fact that everything in that era was artificial. From women’s beauty to love, each and everything was fake. There was no meaningful purpose in their lives. They did not worry about losing their chastity as it was not a serious matter. In fact, it was just a game for them. Material things were more important than love and important matters in life. Nothing was of much importance except enjoying sex and games. Even the church congregations were not important for them. They could miss it for the sake of a ball party. Hence, only material things have any purpose in the eyes of those people.
Attitude of officials:
Alexander Pope has also mentioned the attitude of officials; they were not ready to take their duties serious. Instead of being loyal to their work, they made quick decisions so that they could enjoy their meals. They wanted to attend every small and large gathering around them. Similar is the case with other people of the society. Merchants want to be rich by hook or by crook. Therefore, the poet has sketched a very detailed picture of that century, in which the people had no morality at all.
Besides, many parts of the poem focus on young ladies and men of that era. Lord Petre and Belinda are representative of that contrary; they are young and have only one purpose in life and that is to enjoy the luxuries of life. Their attitude is enough to discuss what was happening in their times. Hence, intentionally or unintentionally, Alexander Pope has put reality in front of his readers.
The crux of the above discussion is that Alexander Pope has portrayed a complete picture of the aristocratic society of the eighteen century. “The Rape of the Lock” is just not a mock epic but is a historical poem; it reveals the attitude of a young generation of the eighteenth century. Pope has also demonstrated the attitude of judges and government officials towards their duties. The easy flow of money made the life of many people easier. The primary purpose of the poem may have something else but its secondary purpose is to deal with London life. “The Rape of The Lock” is a mirror to that society as it brings to light the idiosyncrasies of a class of aristocrats in the Eighteenth-century aristocratic English society.