Analyze this line from Alexander Pope's Rape of The Lock: "Oft when the world imagine Women stray,/ The Sylphs thro' mystick Mazes guide theie way."

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Rape of The Lock by Alexander Pope exposes the fickle nature of society. Pope intends to show how minor occurrences pervade our existence as if they were major catastrophes. Ariel, a sylph, which is a "bright inhabitant(s) of air" guards Belinda's beauty and feeds her vane nature and has tried to warn Belinda in her dream to be aware that "mighty contests rise from trivial things" and jealousy, pride and, certainly, men who may "assault a gentle belle," could reveal a "mighty rage."

Line 90, "Oft when the world imagine..."  reveals how the "world" sees women are frivolous  as "gay ideas crowd the vacant brain" and beauty and its "strange motive" is seemingly so important. Sylphs act as guides to women who are faced with many suitors and must make choices; the sylphs being the ones who actually "contrive it all." The sylphs "through mystic mazes guide their way," protect the women from men's inappropriate advances as they are unable to do so themselves because of their preoccupation with trivial things. 

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