How is the poem, "The Rape of the Lock,"  proper sexual bahavior for the time?

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Alexander Pope, the author of this mock-epic poem, was one of the greatest social critics of the time.  In this poem, he makes fun of much of society's behaviors--courtship behavior and otherwise.  Keep in mind that there is no "sex" in this poem, and it would have been horridly frowned upon in Pope's time period as it was still very much in vogue to marry as pure as when you were born...especially for young ladies.  However, courting and attending parties to see and be seen was approved behavior.  Belinda, the main character  in the poem, is the loveliest and most saught after marriageable young lady.  She does not want to go to the party, but can't stand not being there and in the middle of the fun.  She is sweet on the Baron, a very eligible bachelor, and she leans in a little too close and smiles too much at his jokes. The sylphs who protect her hair, her reputation, and all other valuables on her person detect her willingness to give in to his affections and they are powerless to protect her against her own will.  Belinda's favorite curl is severed from her head, and then all chaos breaks loose as she eventually stabs the Baron with her hatpin demanding it back.

So, Pope pokes fun at the (vanity) preparation young women take to make themselves beautiful, at the "ceremony" of gossiping, and the courtship behavior of the Baron and Belinda which is more like warfare.  This is all very much accurate to the time period.

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