Explain the following quote from Pope's The Rape of the Lock: "But since, alas! frail beauty must decay/Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to grey."

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

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In Pope's The Rape of the Lock, the following quote can be found in Canto 5:

But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,

Curl'd or uncurl'd, since locks will turn to grey.

The meaning of the quote refers to the fact that no one is out of the reach of death. Both "curl'd" and "uncurl'd" refers to the fact that no one, the noble or the peasant, can escape from aging or death. This, essentially, equals the playing field between the rich and the poor.

When speaking about beauty, Pope is (again) referring to the fact that regardless of one's beauty, all will essentially become the same: grey (meaning old). With age, one moves closer to death.

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