The Rape of The Lock is a witty satire against the fops and belles, fashionable dandies, and ladies of Pope’s age. It is also a Satire on the society of that day. But the section chosen by the poet is the aristocratic section of society. The poem is the most powerful satire against feminine frivolity. This poem was a response to a request that John Caryll made to Alexander Pope. He was his friend who requested him to write a poem.
The first version of this poem was published in 1712. It had only two cantos then. But its immense and popular reception by the public encourage Pope to add more cantos and thus the poem appeared in the present form of five cantos in 1714. Alexander Pope wrote this poem to make fun of society that was wasting time in useless activities. So The Rape of The Lock is a mirror to the 18th-century aristocratic society.
Why The Rape of the Lock can be called a social satire?
The reason why Pope’s The Rape of the Lock can be called a social satire is given Below:
Satire On Vanity of 18th century England Society
In The Rape of The Lock, the poet explores the vanity of English aristocratic society, he exposes their excessive beliefs in their own abilities and attractiveness to others. On one hand, he talks about fashionable men whereas, on the other hand, he also mentions that Ladies were not different from men in this regard.
The Poet creates war-like scenes in the poem to ridicule society and to show them they make preparation for useless activities as they are going to war. He does not target a single person nor does he talks about any specific professions but as a whole; it is the beauty of The Rape of The Lock that it is a complete social satire due to which it has a universal appeal. Although the poem has not been ever judged from the psychological perspective yet it is a matter of fact that the poet shows the mental psyche of those people through social satire in his poem The Rape of The Lock. He writes
“With varying vanities, from every part,
They shift the moving Toyshop of their Heart”
Satire on Males and Females
In the poem, the poet creates a female character named Belinda. Although in the complete poem, he talks only about her yet he means to say every single female of that era who belonged to the aristocratic class. On the opposite, he creates a male character name, Baron. He uses him to show the routine life of gentlemen. England has been known for the people with heroic deeds for many years, however, the lifestyle that the gentlemen adopt in this poem is entirely opposite of heroism. In the very beginning of the poem, the poet starts showing the laziness of the upper class.
Behind wakes up from sleep and sleeps again. It means that she has nothing to worry about. She prepares herself for a party just like a soldier prepares for a battle. Thus, it is a social satire on noble ladies of that century in The Rape of the Lock.
There is no denying the fact that women were busy impressing men and men were trying their best to make good impressions in front of the ladies. Women’s curiosity has been shown towards puffing, makeup, using cosmetics, drying hair, petting, etc. Whereas men on the other hand are shown as useless, idle, lazy, unwise, foolish, and hollow-minded who think flirting with ladies as their primary moto.
Satire on Materialistic Relationship
Relationships between men and women were not real at all. The poet sheds light on this issue too. Romeo and Juliet once lived there, however, the poet does not portray any such relationship between anyone. He shows that the people were busy in making affairs and they were pathetic to a real relationship.
The Rape of the Lock in actuality is the Rape Of Honour and a social satire that honor had no value in the eyes of those ladies. It seems that the poet was living in the 21st century. These days people are living in Living Relationships without marrying, however, that was started many years ago though it was not usual for everyone. The poet has shown this in his poem if we deeply study it with symbolic meaning.
The poet targets every relationship. People do not like the friendship of those people who are inferior to them. When Belinda’s lack was cut, her friends left her alone, the incident is a social satire on the emptiness in relationships between the people of that era.
Thus, we can say that the poet does not directly uses any word against the standards of 18th-century England society; rather he used the technique of social satire in his poem The Rape of The Lock to spread awareness about the follies of their people. He covers almost everything in the poem. From every angle, The Rape of The Lock seems a poem that best defines the technique of Social Satire.