Note how much of the literature of this period was satiric - we've read more satire during the enlightenment that in the the rest of the quarter put together. Satire was a natural way of expressing the attitudes of the time.
Occasion - (Occasion is the incident that leads to the writing of a document. For example, the occasion of a thank you note is receiving a gift.)
The occasion of this poem was a dispute between 2 Anglo-Catholic (English Catholic) families. Lord Petre cut off a lock of hair from Arabella Fermor (pronounced "farmer"). She and her family became angry. Pope, an Anglo-Catholic himself, wrote the poem to try to make peace between the families. There were so few Catholics left in England that they needed to stick together. The poem was a popular success, but Arabella was not too happy at being mocked.
Pope uses many of the great poets of the past as his model - Homer, Callimacus, Catulus, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, etc. There is not so much of the Germanic. The Graeco-Roman tradition looms large in this poem, as befits a work from the neo-classical period, which looked to Rome & Greece for its models.
The poem provides the traditional epic context dating back to Homer.
this mock epic is a prolonged "slam on women"; women were considered trivial, not important subjects for epic literature.
60ff. Women become spirits after their deaths. The kind
of spirit depends on the kind of woman she was, on her humor,
and your characteristic humor arose from which of the four elements was
dominant in you.
|Type of woman||Their souls become||Elements|
|Soft yielding women||Nymphs||water|
68 The sylph protects a young woman from sex. (Called honor
by us below.)
80 Gnomes = pride.
92 Sylphs = flirtation. They protect young women by keeping them shallow.
122-147 Her looks are her religion.
- her armor is make-up
- Ariel, head slyph who protects
her; she has two curls who are her pride and joy
- Line 21 - judge is in a hurry for lunch so signs sentence without much thought
- Line 98 - she'sexcited she wins caragans; only temporary victory; eventually loses
- Line 127 - Clarissa gives the knight the scissors because he wins the game
- her hair = conquering force of unresisted steel, Callimachus wrote in Italain, Catullus translated
- she'll fight to the end to retain
her lock, but it's stolen
83 Sighs, sobs, & passions from womens are like the winds Odysseus held in a bag.
96 Did I shave my legs for this?
- "Lock of Bernice" An Egyptian princess cut off lock and gave to gods to protect her husband during a war, but it was stolen from the temple. The astronomer Conon announced that the lock had been "translated" into a star. The poet Callimachus wrote a poem about the event that gave Pope the idea for this poem.
- Partridge, astronomer, discovers
lock of hair in the sky where it belongs. He was an astrologer who
always predicted the death of the Pope & various rich & famous.
Alexander Pope makes fun of him here & elsewhere. In 1708, Pope predicted
that Partridge would die on a certain day. When the day came, Pope
announced that Partridge had indeed died. Partridge objected that
he wasn't dead. Pope's response - "Yes he is, or at least should