In Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope, this poem was written in an attempt to make peace between real – life lovers. The incident with the lock of fair actually occurred. The name of the poem describes the main literary technique exactly, hyperbole of the cutting off a lock of hair is described a ‘rape,’ which is taking advantage of someone sexually without their consent. By levelling these two actions, Alexander Pope is satirising his society for inflating little offences when they do not need to be so amplified.
Exaggeration is the main satirical literary technique in this poem and can be seen in nearly every line. Exaggeration can be seen in the first, ‘Th’ inferior Priestess, at her Altar’s side,’ hyperbole is observed when describing Belinda’s maid in high hierarchy in religious terms. This is referring to Belinda as a false God or someone of special high worship, which is embellished from her being admired for her beauty. This praise is certainly in some sense ironical, reflecting negatively on a system of public values in which external characteristics rank higher than moral or intellectual ones.
Although, Alexander Pope also shows a real reverence for his heroine’s physical and social charms, claiming that these are compelling enough to cause one to forget her ‘female errors. ‘ Certainly he has some interest in flattering Arabella Fermor, the real-life woman on whom Belinda is based; in order for his poem to achieve the desired reconciliation, it must not offend. Pope also exhibits his appreciation for the ways in which physical beauty is an art form: he recognizes, with a mixture of censure and awe, the fact that Belinda’s legendary locks of hair, which appear so natural and spontaneous, are actually a carefully contrived effect.
In this, the mysteries of the lady’s dressing table are similar, perhaps, to Alexander Pope’s own literary ability, which he describes elsewhere as ‘nature to advantage dress’d. ‘ An alternative literary device is the reference to the epic: Iliad, Aeneid, where each epic part has a reference to the mock epic segment. The characteristics of an epic are the invocation of a deity, a regular statement of theme, the division of the work into books and cantos, ostentatious speeches, battles and supernatural machinery; to reveal the absurdity of a certain subject.
The main consequence of utilising the style of an epic is, however, not so much to have fun with the epic, but to deflate a subject or characters that by contrast appear exceptionally insignificant. Between Iliad and The Rape of the Lock there are numerous similarities including the arming of the hero with the toilet (dressing) scene; the battle with the card game; the stratagem with the pinch of snuff; the meddling Gods and Goddesses with the Sylphs and Gnomes; the journey to the underworld with the cave of Spleen and the dream with the dream.
The battle references are crucial to the Rape of the Lock, as they establish the idea of exaggeration clearly. The card game is extremely important as it makes reference to battle, the Royals and lads onto the ‘raping of the lock. ‘ ‘Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms;’ this quotation is an example of prolepsis for the ‘card game’ used earlier in the poem. As Belinda has help getting dressed, the image of someone being surrounded on a battle field can be visualised, this is contradicted by its context use and the idea of insignificance is infiltrated once again.
This is reinforced thoroughly during the card game, ‘Draw forth to Combat on the Velvet Plain. ‘ This quotation is referring to the green felt that covers the card table, which is a hidden classic citation to the green baize of a battle field. Irony within The Rape of the Lock, is applied as only the more intelligent public understood what was being written, therefore Alexander Pope would not be offending as many people.
Personification was seen in the Rape of the Lock, ‘Now move to War her Sable Matadores,’ this is referring to the different countries that are ‘hers. ‘ This is another technique for masking the ridicule that Alexander Pope has written about his society. From the three poems; Speke Parott, The Lady’s Dressing Room and The Rape of the Lock it is clear that satirical poetry was difficult to write and interpret as poets had to mask their truths, therefore only the more intellectual individuals understood the happenings of these poems.
The difference between these three poems is apparent. John Skelton satirises only one specific person; Thomas Cardinal Wolsey and he researches Wolsey’s background and mocks him in a variety of techniques. Jonathan Swift satirises mostly women with a smaller reference to men, he is crude with his satire and was known for such in his other poems. Alexander Pope derided his society as a whole; he ridiculed men and women, attempting to use rhetoric to disguise what he really meant.