The Rape of the Lock (1712)

  • Study Questions:

1.  In what ways is The Rape of the Lock a mock-heroic poem?

2.  What is the background story (occasion) for the poem?  To whom does the poet dedicate the poem?

3.  In ll. 7-8, is the male protagonist well-bred?  Can you describe him from his behavior?

4.  Pay attention to the poetic diction Pope uses in ll. 7-11.  To what does this kind of diction belong? Heroic, gentle, graceful, sarcastic, ironic, cynical, witty, jeering, or satirical?  What effect does this create?

5.  Comment on the guardian Sylph's speech to Belinda.  Is it quite a style?

6.  When the Fair expires in all their pride, what happens to them?  (Hint: ll. 59-60 (fire) fiery termagants--Salamander; ll.61-62 (water) soft yielding minds--water nymph; ll.63-64 (earth) graver prude--Gnome; ll.65-66 (air) light coquettes--Sylph in the air.)

7.  Why does the Sylph advise Belinda to remain fair and chaste?

8.  Where are the little Sylphs to protect her?  To protect her from what kind of men?

9.  When the world imagines women go astray, who guides them on their way?

10. What does Ariel predict? Does he know exactly what, how, and where this will 


11. How does Belinda end her dream?

12.  To what does the poet compare Belinda's dressing up?

13.  Pay attention to the poetic diction of the last stanza. What kind of diction is this?  (unveiled, silver vase, mystic, robed in white, offerings, curious toil, glittering spoil,K)

14.  The brief reference of India and Arabia expands the scope and the atmosphere. But what opposite effect does it bring?

15.  According to l.139, what does the poet portray the lady as here?


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