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Gender Stereotypes/Roles In Rape Of The Lock (Essay Sample)

Examine Pope's satiric treatment of gender in The Rape of the Lock. How does Pope both exploit and help to construct eighteenth-century gender stereotypes to weave the gossamer threads of his satire? Text: Rape of the lock by Alexander Pope Also compare the stereotypes he presents in the eighteenth century and explain how they are still relevant in today\'s modern day society. Use quotes from text to support http://classiclit(dot)about(dot)com/library/bl-etexts/apope/bl-apope-rape.htm source..
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Pope’s Satiric Treatment of Gender in the “Rape of the Lock”
In the ‘Rape of the Lock”, Pope examines the role of gender in the eighteenth century. He effective uses satire to lucidly explore the various gender stereotypes with more emphasis on the position of women in the eighteenth century society. Appearance is not reality is the main message that Pope conveys as he attacks femininity and the aspects of gender dualities. In presenting his gender ideologies, Pope deflates the intelligence, prowess, and the beauty of women while supporting man’s violent behavior against women as well belittlement. The word “rape” in the poem is used to depict the stealing of women prowess by the profound male chauvinism. The strong sexual overtones that are utilized in the poem greatly support this idea. Pope uses the character of Belinda to depict the behavior of women in the eighteenth century society. Both the character of Belinda and Baron are used in stereotyping the gender roles as well to illustrate the failure to gain true identity in current society. He portrays women as vengeful and petty over trivial things. With this mindset, he displays men as the female or they perceive themselves to be superior.
The characterization of Belinda is ironically used to show the superficiality of her world as well as the innate gender stereotypes. In the entire poem, Pope describes Belinda as “the fairest of all mortals” (Canto 1, ll. 27). Belinda is depicted as the goddess as she has been conditioned as well as believed. The author of the poem also succeeds in elevate her to a higher position in the society through her superficial appearance. It is therefore very obvious to the reader that there is a fictional conflict between two powerful icons of the upper social class. The locking of Belinda’s hair by baron portrays the discomfort she felt for being treated thus by Baron just because of her royal status. The satire is very evident here as Belinda attains the royal position just by the virtue of appearance. The message portray here by Pope is that the position of a woman in the society is largely a factor of her appearance, both morally as well as beauty –wise. In Canto 1 line 128, Pope describes Belinda as “a heavenly image in the glass appears” in the process of her sacred rites practices. She is depicted as having more concern for her appearance and less on her morals. She is also portrayed as a superficial female and typically unreliable. Belinda is presented as spent many hours in her dressing room trying to work on her appearance with help of her guardians and servants who are mystical creatures mandated to help her in her revenge against Baron after the loss of her lock hair.
By elevating Belinda to a high position in the society (goddess), Pope succeeds in bringing out the idea that her moral should measures up to that higher position. This is greatly ironical since her morals are really wanting. The idea is to present an outwardly perfect picture of her which is not the case in her inside personality. The irony here is that Belinda is exactly the opposite of what she believes she is. Pope concludes that it is the mistake of the society which has trained her to be so. Belinda spends much of her time making her hair since it is her most valued possession. The superiority of men is depicted by the act Baron in stealing Belinda’s treasured lock hair. All her servants and guardian took this act as being fair. As a man, Baron believes that he can have what he wanted by taking advantage of Belinda. Baron’s lack of identity is similar to that of Belinda. Even though he claims honor, he is in the actual sense perpetuating male stereotype. Line 29 through to 34 outlines this male ego in Baron
“Th’ adventurous Baron the brigh...
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