“The triumph of the Baron’s rape is in exactly the same high language as it would be if he were Hector.” In The Rape of the Lock, Pope uses the mock-epic style to satirise the seriousness with which a trivial misdemeanour (the theft of a few strands of hair) and the ways of gender polarised society can be blown beyond all sense of proportion.
Thus the male mentality, through the Baron, is portrayed as lacking depth or personality beyond that required to achieve its ends; men objectify and devise “strategems” (4,120) to conquer their female obsessions; they are “victor[s]” (4,162) who self-importantly congratulate themselves as meriting “wreaths of triumph” (4,161) when they have seized what they desire. The Baron claims that the “glorious prize” is his in perpetuity, whilst many conditions which will never be fulfilled (“while fish in streams, or birds delight in air” 4,163) remain unfulfilled. In this satirising of the epic mould such trivial occurrences are substituted in place of truly fantastic possibilities (mighty cities falling, for instance) for the purpose of putting the lock’s severing into a more realistic perspective — this is made even more explicit in the following canto (4,8 “[no-one ever] felt such rage, resentment, and despair / as thou, sad virgin! for thy ravished hair” — meaning that perhaps Belinda over-reacts, in Pope’s opinion, just ever-so slightly.) He also then reinforces his satire with a broadening of humour, and a stab in the direction of then-popular culture: specifically, “Atalantis” (4,165) was no great enduring writing but a cheap, scandalous work of fiction, “notorious for its thinly concealed allusions to contemporary scandals”, pe…
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…rder of life.”)
Obviously the ultimate aim of the poem is to mitigate the severity of the liberty taken in the theft of the lock (as seen in the minds of those involved in the familial dispute.) Mock epic assists Pope in achieving this without being seen to trivialise the assaulted feelings of the victim — the high language and drama of his work accords to the act of the lock’s severing a grossly inflated significance, which retains enough of its epic origins not to be viewed as derisive sarcasm. As a satirist Pope is therefore presenting for the appraisal of his readership the notion that the loss of the lock does not deserve the intensity of ill-feeling which has resulted from it.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature 6th Edition, Volume 1, 1993
A Choice Of Pope’s Verse, edited by Peter Porter, Faber
Freudian Analysis of Hamlet
Freudian Analysis of Hamlet
As a child, Shakespeare’s Hamlet had experienced the warmest affection for his mother, and this, as is always so, had contained the elements of a disguised erotic quality, still more so in infancy. The presence of two traits in the Queen’s character accord with this assumption, namely her markedly sensual nature and her passionate fondness for her son. The former is indicated in too many places in the play to need specific reference, and is generally recognized. The latter is also manifest: Claudius says for instance (79), “The Queen his mother lives almost by his looks”. Nevertheless Hamlet appears to have with more or less success weaned himself from her and to have fallen in love with Ophelia. The precise nature of his original feeling for Ophelia is a little obscure. We may assume that at least in part it was composed of a normal love for a prospective bride, though the extravagance of the language used (the passionate need for absolute certainty, etc.) suggests a somewhat morbid frame of mind. There are indications that even here the influence of the old attraction for the mother is still exerting itself. Although some writers, following Goethe, see in ophelia many traits of resemblance to the Queen, perhaps just as striking are the traits contrasting with those of the Queen. […]
Now comes the father’s death and the mother’s second marriage. The association of the idea of sexuality with his mother, buried since infancy, can no longer be concealed from his consciousness. As Bradley well says: “Her son was forced to see in her action not only an astounding shallowness of feeling, but an eruption of coarse sensuality, ‘rank and gross,’ speeding post-haste to its horrible delight”…
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…d in continuing to “repress” the former he must strive to ignore, to condone, and if possible even forget the latter;his moral fate is bound up with his uncle’s for good or ill. In reality his uncle incorporates the deepest and most buried part of his own personality, so that he cannot kill him without also killing himself. This solution, one closely akin to what Freud has shown to be the motive of suicide in melancholia, is actually the one that Hamlet finally adopts. The course of alternate action and inaction that he embarks on, and the provocations he gives to his suspicious uncle, can lead to no other end than to his own ruin and, incidentally, to that of his uncle. Only when he has made the final sacrifice and brought himself to the door of death is he free to fulfil his duty, to avenge his father, and to slay his other self — his uncle.