Discuss in detail the blending of comic and epic elements in Pope's The Rape of the Lock.

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sensei918 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Rape of the Lock, Pope takes a silly, comical, real-life incident that occurred between two families and creates a heroic mock-epic to both immortalize the incident and gently make fun of it.  If you look at the conventions of epic poetry, you can clearly see that Pope makes full use of the genre in his story about a young society woman who is "raped" of a lock of her hair. 

1. He uses the heroic couplet, which  

2. He calls upon the Muse to inspire his words, just as Homer and Virgil did in their epics

3. He uses the devices of supernatural intervention and the idea of gods and goddesses being interested in the affairs of humans, but they are lesser spirits in his poem than in the real epics.

4. Since epics are usually about war and nation building and identity, he uses the card game of ombre as a stand in for war, making the battle of cards seem as important as war.

The comic elements come into the picture in the way that he exaggerates a very trivial incident, making it seem far more important than it really is. In the end, the ravished lock of hair ascends to heaven and becomes a star shining down upon the poor, bereft herione Belinda, who is left with only one lock at the nape of her neck until her hair grows back.

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The Rape of the Lock

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