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English 1022 Lecture on "The Rape of the Lock"

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English 1022E
David Bentley

Rape of the Lock Lecture around November 3, 2011 On Board: - Battle of Wits (5:35) - Game of Cards (3:19-104) - Journey to the Underworld (4:11-88) - Arming Scene in Sir Gawain: 2:566-8 - Sylphs (air) - Gnomes (earth) - Salamander (fire) - Nymphs (water) - cosm(et)ic - f(r)iend - w(h)isp(er) - p.91 is part of the exposition that comes from one of the Slyphs. - l.99: “with varying vanities from every part they shift the moving toy shop of their heart...oh blind to truth the Sylphs contrive it all” - sense that the Sylphs handle parts of the body to keep this world of glamour going. - Pope is depicting a horribly enclosed narcissistic world. Motion without purpose, people fight with each other over the size of the decorations on their swords. - These people exist in an aimless social realm, no goal that they are aiming for. Like Gabriel circling round and round the horse and going to the same party over and over again. - There is a purposelessness, lack of important things to do, trivializing mentality. There must be serious moral problems here, one of which is the vanity of Belinda. - Belinda and her friends put too much emphasis on material things and put an excessive attention on personal appearance. Not surprisingly, the first important passage in the poem concerns Belinda sitting at her vanity, making herself up. - l.121: now unveiled the toilet stands...each vase in mystic order laid… first robed in white, the nymph… adores with head uncovered the cosmetic powers” for Belinda that cosmic is the cosmetic. She’s vesting cosmic importance in her makeup. “Pride” is capitalized. Pride and vanity coexist frequently together. - Vanity is what Belinda is worshipping. - Direct equivalent of the world of Gossip Girl, especially Blair’s life. - Last epic device: Supernatural World. Pope calls this the light militia of the lower air. In PL the supernatural creatures are the fallen and unfallen angels. Here, they are just airy creatures that Pope invented. They represent different aspects of the elements and refer to different aspects of the female world. The most important is Ariel, Belinda’s “body” guard. Like Prospero to Miranda. - When she wakes in the morning, he’s by her, attending to her. - Without Belinda’s honor/chastity she would be a dubious item for marriage. - Guardianship of her chastity/virginity. - Pope likens Belinda’s petticoats to a fortress, which has 7 perimeter walls protecting the inner sanctums. Her dress is to protect her virginity. - Epic conflicts. In classical epics there are huge battles and wars. Here the trivial wars that take place are going to be likened to those things in order to be shown to be trivial. - This battle is of words. Nothing damaging occurs except a damaging of ego. - Game of cards. Over 80 lines of the poem is devoted to this game. This passage contains underlying assumptions. l.75 in Canto 3: The Baron only shows half his face (does everything in halves). A “refulgent” Queen (the queen on the cards) is just used to make this poem seem more epic than it is. - Assumptions lie in the racial references in last few lines. Belief that Indian soldiers were effeminate b
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