Pope uses the mock-epic style, an elevated form to discuss trivial events, to be able to signify the importance of finding a so this means from something relatively unmeaningful which, in cases like this, is the value and electric power of ladies in this society. At the beginning of the 18th century, British society started to weaken the power have difficulties between male and female and Pope is able to effectively expose this image without having to be resentful like the majority of the writers have during that time period. Pope not only extensively targets the protagonist Belinda to represent the trial of women for individualistic electricity; but, he also successfully utilizes the energy in women through other, helping female character types.
One of the signals of the changing role of electricity between women and men is shown by refering to the energy kept by Queen Anne of Britain: "One talks the glory of the British Queen" (Canto III. 13). Although she is not the protagonist of the poem, Queen Anne exhibited her electric power immensely in the newly-developed federal government in Britain, that was main symptoms of the identification of an woman's vitality (Jones 273). Pope intentionally mentions her dominion: "Of overseas tyrants, and of nympths at home;/Here though, great Anna! Whom three realms obey, /Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea" (Canto III. 6-8) This illustrates her equivalent capacity to that of a man during this age as her electricity is summarized as being of utmost importance to THE UK during her reign throughout the 18th century (Jones).
The traces of women's vitality can be viewed through the female protagonist and other slight characters. At the beginning of Canto IV, Belinda, lies sickly mystified when she realizes Baron, a gentleman in her communal circle, cut off a lock of her head of hair. A sylph who is participating in the role of the handmaid, Affectation, showcases a special power of a female that shows that the power within a female differs from that of a man and a woman's electric power essentially has just as much influence of importance:
There Affectation with a sickly mien
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen,
Practiced to lisp, and suspend the head away,
Faints into airs, and languishes with delight" (Canto IV. 31-34).
Affectation's power shows that one significant benefit of a woman's electric power is her ability to control men using their deceitful actions and satisfaction.
The other female character who attempts showing off her female power is Thalestris, Belinda's friend, who demonstrates a certain kind of vitality through persuasion and chat that she keenly uses toward other characters in the poem. Within an different way, Thalestris responds in such methods that are not expected of women throughout that time period. She says:
Already listen to the horrid things they state,
Already see you a degraded Toast,
And your Honour in a Whisper lost!
How shall I, then, your helpless Popularity defend?
'Twill then be Infamy to seem to be your Friend!" (Canto IV. 108-112).
With this comment, she pushes Belinda into the abyss of anger and despair. Thalestris goes on to show her electricity when she purchases Sir Plume, her significant other, to demand Baron, at fault who cut the lock, to return the lock of scalp to Belinda. Sir Plume's demand to Baron to come back the lock back to Belinda glorifies Thalestris's electric power:
My Lord, why, what the devil?
Z-ds! Damn the lock! 'fore my Gad, you must be civil!
Plague on't! 'tis past a jest--- nay prithee, Pox!
Give her the hair (Canto IV, 127-130).
As due to his weak submission as a men, Sir Plume, uncovers his inferior position to the female, Thalestris, which symbolizes the shift of authoritative ability. Thalestris's culmination to electric power is ultimately seen in the battle picture in Canto V: "While thro' the Press enrag'd Thalestris flies, /And scatters Fatalities around from both her Eyes" (57-58). The image perceived from these lines depicts the rage of the ladies in British contemporary society through Thalestris.
Unlike majority of the women before her time, Belinda is not at the service of men. Her way of appearance within the poem suggests her importance and electric power. She doesn't need to secure a man's permission to go after any activity she selects. She presumably decides independently herself any take action she wishes to commit in her life in an individualistic manner with no confinement:
Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knocked the bottom,
And the pressed watch returned a silver audio.
Belinda still her downy pillow pressed" (Canto I. 17-19).
She sleeps, gets ready for her leisure time, and accompanies her friends for a relaxing afternoon to wait handmade cards, eating, drinking alcohol, and festivities. This is actually the proof of a woman with unimaginable free will in this age, as she needs no agreement from a superior to activate in these activities. Essentially the most visible evidence of Belinda's self-determined individualistic vitality is most beneficial depicted when she partcipates in a fierce struggle with Baron. These lines symbolize the power of power presented by a woman and the equity of ability between women and men within the British isles society.
See fierce Belinda on the Baron Flies,
With more than standard Lightning in her Sight;
Nor fear'd the principle th' unequal Combat to try,
Who sought only on his Foe to perish.
But this daring Lord, with manly Durability indu'd,
She with one Finger and a Thumb subdu'd. (Canto V. 75-80)
However, reading the poem from a feministic viewpoint, it sometimes appears that how gender ideologies abuse the power, intellect and beauty of women while aiding man's assault. The symbolism of the "lock" can be viewed as a kind of gender criticism that defies the patriarchy. In Ellen Pollak's essay, "Reading The Rape of the Lock: Pope and the Paradox of Woman Power", Pollak mentions that the lock of the head of hair is a phallic mark and for that reason it is cut off to lessen Belinda to femininity.
The trimming of the hair can be used by the patriarchy to demonstrate their power and domination over Belinda, who is in direct opposition with the Baron. Belinda refuses to be manipulated by the patriarchy, and therefore is a hazard to their reign. Inside the drawing room of the Palace, the men are all stunned by her beauty, however enamored these are by her; Belinda will not reciprocate their affections and ignores the patriarchy which causes cutting her mane that shows getting rid of both her beauty and electric power.
But ev' ry Attention was fix'd on her alone.
On her white Breasts a sparkling Cross she used,
Which jews might kiss, and Infidels adore.
Her lively Looks a sprightly Brain disclose,
Quick as her Eye, as unfix'd as those:
Favours to none, to all or any she Smiles stretches,
Oft she rejects, but never once offends. (Canto II. 6-12)
The electricity and beauty that she shows in disregarding the teenagers infuriates them, so they must take away her beauty to mess up her feminity and her confidance. If Belinda was not this mush fairly or if she was committed and possessed by a guy then this invasion would never happen. This episode only is determined because she attempts to live beyond your rules and expectations of the patriarchy.
The seriousness of the problem and the value of the wild hair to a female is seen here and in Pope's other poem "Epistle to a female". There he writes "Most women have no character at all. Matter too smooth for a sustained mark to tolerate, and best distinguish'd by dark-colored, brown and reasonable, " (2-4). This demonstrates the value of wild hair for the woman of that time and depicts that there surely is nothing at all else for a woman to be pleased with. In "The Rape of the Lock" Belinda's hair is her weapon against men and the image of her superiority over them which is easily extracted from her to make her again poor and powerless towards men.
The central stress within the Rape of the Lock is based on the relationship between the literal and the symbolic. The action depends on the connection of Belinda's locks to her genuine, physical virginity, a crucial sizing of the poem that critics have often referenced but whose relevance is commonly ignored. The style in which Belinda wears her hair, mostly piled-up but with two long curls on each part of her neck of the guitar, was a customary fashion for young marriageable-that is, virgin-women. The locks are thus a material signifier of virginity, something whose materials existence is otherwise difficult to determine. The trimming of the lock is, then, a symbolic rape, and the poem investigates the power and relevance of such a symbolic function (Harol 121).
There is a connection between your lock of the hair and Belinda's virginity. In Singh's essay entitled, "Pope's Belinda: A Feminist reading" Belinda's scalp and her virginity are linked jointly. There, it is talked about that Belinda prefers to lose her virginity alternatively than burning off her locks, because her head of hair is unique and the symbol of her electric power and her femininity. Raping the lock shows Baron's manhood so he is determined to obtain the lock of the mane by assault or any other means he must make use of:
Th'Adventurous Baron the smart Hair admir'd,
He found, he wish'd, and the Reward aspir'd:
Resolv'd to get, he meditates just how,
By Push to ravish, or by Scams betray;
For when Success a Lover's Toil attends,
Few ask, if Scam or Push attain'd his Ends (Canto II. 29-34).
It seems that Belinda knows the impending violence against her, so when she is getting dressed to go to the party it appears that she is getting ready herself for a battle field.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling Treatment;
These set the Head, and those split the Hair,
Some flip the Sleeve, while others plait the Dress;(Canto I. 145-147)
The illustration of Belinda's finding your way through the struggle can be in comparison to Virgil's depiction of the fantastic Achilles heading to the warfare. The fact that she'll the fight and her weapon is her cosmetics and cosmetics proves making fun of women's insufficient power. The one durability Belinda possesses is her beauty that may be easily considered by a masculine vitality.
Belinda's moral figure is also questioned in Canto I, "puffs, natural powder, patches, bibles, billet-doux"; it implies that she confuses the trivial things such as powder puffs with religion and the bible. The disordered status of her dressing desk shows her lack of brains and her perplexed principles. As Singh expresses "The brand puffs, powders, areas, bible a d billet-doux' is usually interpreted to imply that the misunderstanding of objects on her behalf dressing table can be an embodiment of the misunderstandings of that prevails in her own worth" (Singh 479). This idea proves that girls are so neglected and underestimated that point they are not even qualified enough to worship God or even to be on high spiritual levels as men.
There is another feminine character that is within direct comparison with the protagonist. The actual fact that Pope uses a female "Clarissa" as a patriarchal weapon is devious. Her name "Clarissa", indicating clarity, offers more validity to her words, such that it would be difficult never to value her warnings of vanity. Here a female is chosen to deceive an other woman of her own intimacy which ultimately shows the dominance of men over women. Clarissa is so brainwashed by patriarchal electric power that she is even in a position to betray and deceive an other woman. Belinda's loss or defeat as a woman is not important at all for her because she is merely looking for the gratitude of the patriarch and she actually is totally manipulated by the dominating masculine vitality over herself unlike Belinda who is a menace for the patriarch.
In an article that discusses the value of Clarissa's occurrence, Pope uses Clarissa as the antagonist to Thalestris. Contradicting the radical ambition to power possessed by Thalestris, Clarissa respects and employs the expected traditional role of a female in that she is graceful and abides by the regulations and rules which have been chiefly place before her (Crider 81). However, she also moderately recommends to the audience that beyond their expected role, women must acknowledge and take control of their knowledge and skills before they attempt to gain the power:
Say, why are Beauties prais'd and honour'd most,
The smart Man's Passion, and the vain Man's Toast?
Why deck'd with all that Land and Sea afford,
Why Angels call'd, and Angel-like ador'd?
Why around our Coaches masses the white-glov'd Beaus,
Why bows the Side-box from its inmost Rows?
How vain are these Glories, all our Aches and pains,
Unless good Sense protect what Beauty increases:
That Men may say, when we the Front-box elegance,
Behold the first in Virtue, as in Face! (Canto V. 9-18)
The card game can even be defined as gender ideology; since Belinda needs the Ruler of Hearts, an icon of male sexuality and patriarchy, to gain the game while Baron requires the Queen of Spades. This relationship between Baron and the Queen of Spades is analogous to using Clarissa help Baron harm Belinda. The Queen of Spades helps Baron just like Clarissa who helped the patriarchy and offered the scissors to Baron to commit the Rape (Singh 478).
As mentioned previously, the traces of women's power and their struggle to be more powerful is seen obviously. However, this superlative ability that women are searching for, subsequently, seems as trivial and unimportant as what the key subject matter of the poem is to the reader. It really is accepted by the male dominating power of that time period that women are gaining some more power but they also think it is so absurd and improbable to occur which make it easily a tool to tease. Here the power of a female is reduced to her head of hair and beauty that can be recinded by slicing the hair. No matter how trivial it could appear in a satirical sense, almost 3 hundred years later, it seems as though women remain struggling for similar power.