In "The Rape of the Lock," by Alexander Pope, what are the elaborate descriptions of weapons and battle?    

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Lord Caryll, a prominent Catholic friend of Alexander Pope’s, asked Pope to write a light poem about an actual incident that occurred within their circle of friends. The incident involved Lord Petre cutting off a lock of Arabella Femor’s hair. As a result of this “tragedy ,” Lord...

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Lord Caryll, a prominent Catholic friend of Alexander Pope’s, asked Pope to write a light poem about an actual incident that occurred within their circle of friends. The incident involved Lord Petre cutting off a lock of Arabella Femor’s hair. As a result of this “tragedy,” Lord Petre’s and Femor’s families began to dislike one another. In an attempt to reconcile the two families, Lord Caryll asked Pope to point out how ridiculous it was to feud over such a petty incident. Pope agreed to write the poem and the mock-epic poem, “The Rape of the Lock,” was born.

In my opinion, the battle satirized in the poem is not a physical battle, but rather a battle of the sexes between Belinda and Baron. The weapons used by Belinda are the vanity and beauty of an 18th Century socialite and the weapons used by Baron are the pride and cockiness of a young man wanting to make a conquest. The actual act of rape in the poem is not a sexual assault—it is the cutting of Belinda’s hair—but to Belinda, it signifies a great loss. But is she the loser in this battle?

In Canto I, look how Pope describes the way women start early in life knowing how to flirt with men:

’Tis these that early taint the Female Soul,

Instruct the Eyes of young Coquettes to roll,

Teach Infants Cheeks a bidden Blush to know,

And little Hearts to flutter at a Beau.

Belinda prepares with her encounter with Baron by spending endless time primping. Pope describes this false beauty as “awful” that puts on arms. She is getting ready for the duel:

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms;

The Fair each moment rises in her Charms,

Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev’ry Grace,

And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face;

In Canto II, Pope further alludes to how Belinda is dressed. He draws a comparison between Belinda’s petticoat and shield—one that is strong and “silver bound” covering her entire body. This is in reference to Belinda going into her “battle” with Baron, still a virgin and wanting to protect her innocence.

We trust th’ important Charge, the Petticoat.

Oft have we known that sev’nfold Fence to fail;

Tho’ stiff with Hoops, and arm’d with Ribs of Whale.

Form a strong Line about the Silver Bound,

And guard the wide Circumference around.

While Baron waits for Belinda, he is also prepping. He has earlier declared that he will have a lock of her hair, regardless of whether or not she gives it to him willingly. The game of cat and mouse begins. He rises early to perform an elaborate set of prayers and sacrifices to promote success in stealing the lock. Soon after Belinda arrives to the party, a card game ensures. The game, Ombre, is one of tactics and trickery, a symbol itself to the war that is about to commence. On his third try, Baron is successful at cutting of a lock of Belinda’s hair. She is furious as she and her friends scuffle to retrieve Baron’s conquest. She cries (in Canto IV):

Restore the Lock! she cries; and all around

Restore the Lock! the vaulted Roofs rebound.

Not fierce Othello in so loud a Strain

Roar’d for the Handkerchief that caus’d his Pain.

But see how oft Ambitious Aims are cross’d,

And Chiefs contend ’till all the Prize is lost!

It appears as if she has lost the fortunes of battle. Her prize is lost. But has Baron won? In the end, Pope alludes to the hair being lost to the heavens, not necessarily by Belinda. Pope concludes the poem by asking the reader to question who the winner is.

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The Rape of the Lock is a mock epic, meaning Pope is parodying the lack of valor of the upper classes in eighteenth-century England compared to the real valor of their Greco-Roman counterparts. Pope, in particular, pokes fun at an actual-life family feud that broke out when Lord Petre took a lock of Arabella Fermoy's hair without permission. But he uses the occasion to make a larger comment about the trivial and misdirected concerns of the privileged.

Basing his poem in part on Homer's Iliad, Pope satirizes the decadence of modern aristocrats. Weapons of war turn into "weapons" of the drawing room, such as clothing or a card game. The Iliad's shield of Achilles, for example, becomes Belinda's petticoats. Rather than providing protection on the battlefield, sylphs and supernatural creatures provide protection in the bedroom, helping Belinda dress. Rather than cutting off heads in physical battle, the Baron cuts off a lock of Belinda's hair during the "battle" of a game of Ombre. His taking of the hair is compared to the conquest of Troy.

When a "fight" breaks out after the Baron snips Belinda's lock, everyone uses whatever weapons are at hand, including an elaborate description of the effects of throwing snuff, or pulverized tobacco:

But this bold Lord, with manly Strength indu'd,
She with one Finger and a Thumb subdu'd,
Just where the Breath of Life his Nostrils drew,
A Charge of Snuff the wily Virgin threw;
The Gnomes direct, to ev'ry Atome just,
The pungent Grains of titillating Dust.
Sudden, with starting Tears each Eye o'erflows,
And the high Dome re-ecchoes to his Nose.

Pope hoped to heal the feud by showing how ridiculous this kind of "fighting" was.

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In Canto 3, Belinda joins a pair of gentleman for a card game which uses battle imagery.  For example, the cards are like soldiers who "Draw forth to Combat on the Velvet Plain," the velvet plain being the table cloth. 

Using couplets such as "His warlike Amazon her Host invades, Th' Imperial Consort of the Crown of Spades," Pope extends the battle metaphor which also heightens the conflict between Belinda and Lord Petre. 

Later also in Canto 3, Clarissa gives her scissors, "A two-edg'd Weapon from her shining Case" to Lord Petre, an action romanticized by Pope as:

 "So Ladies in Romance assist their Knight,
Present the Spear, and arm him for the Fight."

As Petre gloats about his victorious capture of the hair, he compares his victory to that of the decimation of Troy:

"Steel cou'd the Labour of the Gods destroy,
And strike to Dust th' Imperial Tow'rs of Troy.
Steel cou'd the Works of mortal Pride confound,
And hew Triumphal Arches to the Ground."

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