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Please explain the following lines from "The Rape of the Lock.""Oh thoughtless Mortals!...

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nittoh-bittoh | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted August 11, 2011 at 11:26 AM via web

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Please explain the following lines from "The Rape of the Lock."

"Oh thoughtless Mortals! ever blind to Fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate!"

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 11, 2011 at 7:24 PM (Answer #1)

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The quote you have cited occurs in Canto III of this great mock epic, and comes during the card game that Belinda plays with two of her suitors. Reference is made to various sylphs and spirits who sit on cards, protecting them for Belinda. Thus it is that the description of this game is then interrupted by the following small stanza, which incorporates the section of the text you have outlined:

Oh thoughtless Mortals! ever blind to Fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate!
Sudden these Honours shall be snatch'd away,
And curs'd for ever this Victorious Day.

This quote of course foreshadows the "snatching away" of such "Honours" as winning a card game and also makes us expect some kind of traumatic, cataclysmic disaster. Of course, Poe uses this to poke gentle fun at the importance with which the lock of hair that was "raped" (itself an incredibly strong word to describe such an event) was taken. The stanza introduces a portentous tone through reference to "Fate" and the fickle nature of "Mortals," which are "blind" to the powers of destiny and can range from dejection to elation. It is important to note the mocking tone in this quote.

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