The Rape of the Lock

by Alexander Pope

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What is the importance of Hampton Court in The Rape of the Lock?

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In canto 3 of The Rape of the Lock, the speaker refers to Queen Anne's activities at Hampton Court. The speaker addresses her directly (the literary device known as apostrophe) as "great Anna." The palace at Hampton Court (now a museum) was once the secondary residence of the British monarchy. Located a few miles from London along the River Thames, it grew into importance under the reign of Henry VIII (after it was gifted to him by Cardinal Woolsey) and was often used to entertain foreign dignitaries.

The speaker calls attention to its importance as the place where British "statesmen" conduct important political affairs and where the queen receives the counsel of advisors. He also trivializes her activities by emphasizing that, as well as counsel, she takes "tea."

Belinda travels to Hampton Court for a party. The speaker describes the activities of the elegant young men—such as cards—in serious terms that would be appropriate to the statesmen's affairs. It is there that the Baron carries out his evil plan and cuts the lock of Belinda's hair.

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