Rape of the Lock by Pope

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Rape of the LOcke

Rape of the lock :
At the beginning of "The Rape of the Lock," Pope identifies the work as a “heroi-comical poem.” Today, the poem—and others like it—is referred to as a mock-epic and sometimes as a mock-heroic. Such a work parodies the serious, elevated style of the classical epic poem—such as The Iliad or The Odyssey, by Homer—to poke fun at human follies. Thus, a mock-epic is a type of satire; it treats petty humans or insignificant occurrences as if they were extraordinary or heroic, like the great heroes and events of Homer's two great epics. In writing "The Rape of the Lock," Pope imitated the characteristics of Homer's epics, as well as later epics such as The Aeneid (Vergil), The Divine Comedy (Dante), and Paradise Lost (Milton). Many of these characteristics are listed below, under "Epic Conventions."

Publication Information

Pope published three versions of The Rape of the Lock. The first was a two-canto version published in 1712. The second, published in 1714, was a five-canto version that added references to sylphs and other supernatural creatures. The final version, published in 1717 in a volume of Pope's poetry, added Clarissa's speech in Canto V.


The action takes place in London and its environs in the early 1700's on a single day. The story begins at noon (Canto I) at the London residence of Belinda as she carefully prepares herself for a gala social gathering. The scene then shifts (Canto II) to a boat carrying Belinda up the Thames. To onlookers she is as magnificent as Queen Cleopatra was when she traveled in her barge. The rest of the story (Cantos III-V) takes place where Belinda debarks—Hampton Court Palace, a former residence of King Henry VIII on the outskirts of London—except for a brief scene in Canto IV that takes place in the cave of the Queen of Spleen.