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Context Literature / TheRapeOfTheLock

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1''The'' definitive [[MundaneMadeAwesome Mock-Heroic]] epic, penned by Alexander Pope. The title isn't what you think it means: 'Rape' here refers to [[HaveAGayOldTime the older word]] for 'kidnap,' and 'Lock' being a lock of a woman's hair, here [[TraumaticHaircut taken unwillingly]]. So get your [[HehHehYouSaidX snickers]] out of the way ''now''.²²InAWorld where the flirts, coquettes, and heartbreakers are protected by airy Sylphs, Belinda is the Queen Bee of her little court, with suitors at her every hand—and none as persistent as the Baron. However, one day Ariel, the chief guard of Belinda's honour, gets a premonition that some calamity will strike. Guards are set on all objects of import—earrings, fans, curls, and petticoats (especially the petticoats)—but, in an unguarded moment over a coffee cup, the sylphs fail to stop the Baron from stealing a lock of hair—''the'' lock of hair that made Belinda's symmetrical coiffure perfect. And so, The Battle Of The Sexes ensues. Will [[SlapSlapKiss Belinda be reconciled to the Baron?]] Or will Ill Humour and Temper Tantrums carry the day?²²Regardless, prepare to laugh and be impressed. ''The Rape of the Lock'' is considered to be one of the most important works of literature in the English language—important enough that only it and the works of Creator/WilliamShakespeare himself are allowed to provide names for [[UsefulNotes/TheMoonsOfUranus the moons]] of UsefulNotes/{{Uranus}} according to the International Astronomical Union.²²BasedOnATrueStory—in fact, the engagement of Arabella Fermor, a good friend of Pope's, was broken off (and never reconciled) for precisely this reason. Pope was attempting to get her to reconcile to the man who had stolen her hair by both mocking all the SeriousBusiness made about a bit of a curl, and by warning of the unhappiness that comes of being vain and stubborn. He [[DoubleStandard didn't quite get]] that the problem wasn't about her being "vain and stubborn" but about her intended being a [[JerkAss Jerkass]] who led all his friends to mock, belittle, and ridicule her.²²Being over 300 years old, ''The Rape of the Lock'' is in the public domain. Wikisource has [[ full text]], as does [[ Project Gutenberg]].²²----²!!Tropes included:²* AnAesop: Clarissa's speech on the importance of good humor.²* AncestralWeapon: Belinda's hair-pin, passed down from her great-great-grandfather.²* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Ariel the sylph's reaction to the premonition of Belinda's Bad Day is to send equal numbers of sylphs to guard her dress, her handkerchief, and her gloves, as her heart, her honor, and her chastity.²* AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: [[spoiler: the Lock itself—it turns into a star at the end, unseen by all but the Muse who inspires Pope.]]²* BasedOnATrueStory²* {{Bathos}}: One of the earliest intentional uses of Bathos for humor.²* BerserkButton: No, you don't want to cut Belinda's hair without asking. Trust me, you really, really don't.²* BewareTheNiceOnes²* BlowYouAway: The sylph's greatest power in the physical world. Unfortunately, they aren't that powerful at even ''that,'' seeing as how Belinda barely notices the light breeze on her neck when her [[strike: hair is about to be cut]] [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom Doom is NIGH]].²* DarkIsEvil: Umbriel.²* DefiledForever: Not nearly so grim as usual, but this is how Belinda reacts when her hair is cut. Then again, no one blames her for losing it—it's only her reaction that makes this a horrible breach of her honour.²* TheDitz: Sir Plume, as exemplified in his incoherent speech to the Baron.²* ElementalEmbodiment: Sylphs form the machinery of the action:²-->''For when the Fair in all their Pride expire,\²To their first Elements the Souls retire:\²The Sprights of fiery Termagants in Flame\²Mount up, and take a Salamander's Name.\²Soft yielding Minds to Water glide away,\²And sip with Nymphs, their Elemental Tea.\²\²The graver Prude sinks downward to a Gnome,\²In search of Mischief still on Earth to roam.\²The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,\²And sport and flutter in the Fields of Air.'²* TheFairFolk²* FelonyMisdemeanor: The lock! Being BasedOnATrueStory and all, yes, a family really ''did'' consider it that big of a deal.²* GenderBender: Ariel must have been a woman in life, but is a male sylph in the afterlife. This may be because Sylphs are modeled after elemental spirits, who do not necessarily have genders.²* GloryHound: The Baron, at least partially.²* HaveAGayOldTime: As mentioned in the description, the word "rape" in the title is used in the older, more general sense of carrying something off by force against someone's will.²* LawOfDisproportionateResponse: Actually addressed. The narrator contrasts the oh-so-superficial and hedonistic world of the court against the realities of crime, punishment, and illness that are happening to the unwashed masses at the same time as a SeriousBusiness card game is underway. And then, when Belinda's hair is cut, she pretty much treats it as TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt, as do all her sympathizers. This is no coincidence, as this story mocks the classical Epic, applying all its tropes to mundane situations.²* LongHairIsFeminine: Attacking Belinda's hair counts as attacking Belinda's beauty and person—even though her hair is still mostly intact. [[ValuesDissonance Justified in that time]], as mentioned in the accompanying letter, women were supposed to be decorative rather than rational.²* MakeUpIsEvil: Downplayed, but Belinda's use of make-up is definitely tweaked. Possibly because fashionable make-up was really extreme at the time—the ideal look was an impossibly-coloured and proportioned caricature of a woman's face.²* MeaningfulName: Umbriel, the gnome who accomplishes much mischief, has a name which suggests "umbrage," or anger [from Latin ''umbra'', shade or shadow]. And Ariel, the "airiest" of sylphs²* MrExposition: Ariel.²* MundaneMadeAwesome: Have we mentioned this? Because the poem is ''made'' of this trope. Never mind the actual hair-cutting—the protagonist ''getting up in the morning and putting her makeup on'' is described as if it's some kind of epic (pardon the pun) LockAndLoadMontage.²* TheMuse²* NarrativePoem: Rhyming iambic pentameter, with cantos and everything.²* NonindicativeName: Thanks to HaveAGayOldTime, this leaves us with one awkward title.²* NoPeriodsPeriod: ... ... Alexander Pope would probably roll over in his grave [[note]] with laughter[[/note]] if he knew we were discussing this, but ''look'': when the narration took us down the Cave of Spleen and described all the ailments and afflictions that pursue exclusively women, we all know ''exactly'' what he's talking about.²* {{Parody}}: Pope carefully mirrors all the conventions of the Epic genre, but uses them to depict trivialities.²* PersonalityPowers: Kick in after death. If a [rich] young lady has been a scornful prude, she becomes an earthy gnome. Hot-tempered girls become salamanders, and emotional, weepy ones become nymphs, but light-hearted damsels turn into sylphs. And they spend pretty much their entire afterlives encouraging the living to indulge in their respective behaviours.²* PimpedOutDress: Pope knows better than to insert lavish descriptions of Belinda's outfits... however, considering that her petticoat alone, with its fifty-sylph guard of honour, is described in terms of which [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Achilles]] himself would have been proud, it simply follows that the dress that goes over it is equally sumptuous.²* {{Pride}}: The sin of both Belinda and the Baron.²* PrincessClassic: Belinda²* PurpleProse: Such talk is the meat and drink of this poem. And the oxygen. And the sunlight. And the metabolic enzymes necessary to break down said meat and drink so as to combust them with said oxygen. You get the picture.²* RavenHairIvorySkin: Pale skin was ''de rigeur'' back then for beauty, and Belinda's hair is described as "sable."²* RegalRinglets: Of course! Tumbling symmetrically down the back of Belinda's neck.²* {{Satire}}²* SeriousBusiness: Morning beauty rituals, coffee, card games, and taking someone's hair without asking permission.²* SillyReasonForWar: A haircut.²* SpoiledSweet: Belinda. Based on a real friend of Pope's, she's shown as having a good, sweet heart under all that lace.²* TheTheTitle: As "The Rape of The Lock" is a specific incident.²* ThisIsAWorkOfFiction: In an introductory letter attached to later editions, Pope assures Miss Fermor that of ''course'' he didn't base the main character on her, it's just a silly story for young ladies with a sense of ''humor''. ²* TraumaticHaircut: Much of the biting satire is built around exaggerating this trope; the "haircut" took a lock of hair about the size of your thumb, yet it's treated like a full-blown Traumatic Scalp-Shaving.²* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: The events of the people are all true, but the sylphs and gnomes and the Cave of Spleen? Not so much.²* WhoopiEpiphanySpeech: Clarissa explains it all, in a brilliant soliloquy that nails the entire superficiality and foolishness of the court through the heart, and praising the value of good humour and virtue over appearances and vanity. However, [[IgnoredEpiphany nobody listens to her.]]²* WorldOfHam: Even the ''underworld'' is a WorldOfHam.²----


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