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sensei918 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Canto 1 of "Rape of the Lock" opens with Pope calling on the muse to inspire him and help him tell his story, just as epic poets such as Homer did. Since this is a mock-epic, Pope follows all the conventions of the form. The story begins with Belinda waking up, quite late in the morning/early afternoon. Her guardian Sylph, a spirit of the air, encourages her to wake and get ready for the day, another day where she will idly play card games and be admired by young men. He describes the different spirits and their elements in epic style - as if they were far more important than they really are.

The sylphs help Belinda get dressed. According to Pope, it is really the sylphs that do all the work, and Belinda could not manage without them. They also have to job of guarding her virtue from the advances of men.  Belinda's dog, Shock, wakes her by licking her, and she gets up and reads a letter from an admirer and then puts on her makeup and fixes her hair and "beauty puts on all its charms." Her maid helps her, but the sylphs are the real reason she looks so good. Canto 1 closes with Belinda ready to face the day and a good game of ombre, not knowing that she is about to be "violated."  

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The Rape of the Lock

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