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“The Rape of the Lock” according to a critic is a page torn from the pretty, pleasure-seeking fashionable society of Pope’s time. “The artificial tone of the age, the frivolous aspect of felinity has nowhere been represented as in this poem”. Pope in order to reveal the society at its surface, draws the character of his heroine, - Belinda. For, through her, the general traits of the contemporary women of high society and their attitudes to men, find a living picture. Pope believes that poetry is a criticism of life. He chooses his heroines character from a contemporary event, a historical background where Lord Peter cut off a lock of Mrs. Arabella Fermor’s hair. Belinda has been drawn after Fermor. In Popes art of characterization of Belinda, Dr. Johnson finds the satire on “the little unguarded follies of the female sex”.
Pope introduces Belinda with us, hinting at the tragic incident of her life: - “say what strange motive goddess! Could compel a well-bred Lord to assault a gentle Belle? O, say what strange cause yet unexplored could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord?”
This prelude implies the idea that Belinda represents those women who alluring men by their beauty and even being such familiar as would- be life-partner, - resent marrying and continue the like trait of a butterfly.
Pope depicts two sides of Belinda’s character. The first is her attracting beauty and feminine charms. Pope attributes her the words, “the fair”, “the nymph”, “the virgin” and even “goddess”. The second is her idle, immoral, aristocratic, way-word and varietiful life. She makes her youthful grace and beauty as a capital to allure and delude young lords and barons of high and higher society.
Belinda’s character has been presented with bundle of contradictions. She is a coquette, an injured innocent, a society-belle, a sweet-charmer, a rival of the sun, and a murder of millions. She “favors to none, to all she smiles extends”. To her a ‘lap-dog’ and a husband are equal. Her heart is like a moving “toy-shop”. She has more attention to wigs and sword knots than these who wear them. All these sum up her frivolous nature.
Belinda represents the manner and fashion of the aristocratic ladies of Pope’s time. They used to take part in ball, playing cards, scandalous gossip and boating etc.
Pope describes Belinda’s taking part at the game of Ombre. She desires to defeat to adventurous barons and being helped by Ariel and other spirits Belinda won the game. Pope describes her ecstasy in the lines, “The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky. The walls, the woods and long canals reply”.
Pope here ridicules the contemporary ladies of high society, who forgetting the serious business of life, indulged in playing cards. He makes Belinda a butt of satire.
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