“The Rape of The Lock” as a Mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society

The Rape of The Lock as a Mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society

“Rape of the Lock” was just a reconciliation note between the two parties even then it is a mirror to the eighteenth-century aristocratic society. Subsequently, the poet rectified it and a small poem was converted into a mock epic. Many elements of an epic poem were added to it, due to which it has become a masterpiece. However, only the availability of mock epic elements in this poem is not enough to make it wonderful among other poems of that era. “The Rape of the Lock”, although has universal appeal yet its beauty, lies within the description of contemporary English society of the eighteenth century. The poem has some limitations; it is somehow historical. It reflects the life of 18th-century aristocratic society.

Every person, portrayed in the poem, is aristocratic and belongs to either the class of lords or merchants; therefore, he is free from financial tensions. In the world, financial problem is the very first problem of every person. If a person is financially stable then he just wastes his time on useless activities. It is the case with the eighteenth century London society. With the easy flow of money, they have no other work but to enjoy every small and large gathering in their city.

“The Rape of The Lock” is a mirror to the Aristocratic society of the Eighteenth Century:

Alexander Pope demonstrated this very fact in his poem “The Rape of the Lock”. Every single word of this poem sketches the customs of the eighteenth century. Thus, many critics have regarded it as a mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society of England. Primarily, this poem is a mock epic but its subject is the routine life of people like Lord Petre and Belinda. It was the time when people have an easy flow of money, due to which they used to live a luxurious life. Even government officials used to waste their time on unworkable activities. They have nothing to do except backbiting, playing cards, gossiping, and having sex. Thus, from the poem, it can be established that society was morally corrupt.

“The Rape of The Lock” as a Mirror to the Eighteenth Century Aristocratic Society

“The Rape of The Lock” Satire Vs. Reality:

It was also said that Alexander Pope satirized the society of his era but many critics denied this fact. Nevertheless, they accepted that the poem is a satirical masterpiece besides an epic yet they were of the view that the poet has not primarily focused on the technique of satire. Hence, if there is satire in the poem it is unintentional, as the poet has just demonstrated the lifestyle of his own people. In other words, he has just portrayed reality.

The attitude of Young women in that era:

Numerous examples are there in the poem through which it can be established that the critics are right to the effect that Alexander Pope has presented reality in his poem. Let us start with Belinda. She is an aristocratic lady and spends most of her time brushing herself. Alexander Pope has very beautifully sketched the scene of preparing Belinda for the ball party. Her cosmetics have been brought from distant lands. Many hours goes waste just preparing her for the party. Moreover, from the whole poem, it seems that people focus mainly on the physical beauty of women. The most beautiful lady of bash can win the hearts of many lords. She has been treated as a goddess by young men; therefore, women consider it a sacred thing to prepare for the party. They have wasted half of their lives brushing themselves. There was no concept of true love. Even it has no existence.

Importance of material things:

The aristocratic society used to change lovers and beloveds with clothes. Alexander Pope has described lapdog as a very important thing; more important than lovers. Thus, the lovers’ value was no more than a pet. There is no denying the fact that everything in that era was artificial. From women’s beauty to love, each and everything was fake. There was no meaningful purpose in their lives. They did not worry about losing their chastity as it was not a serious matter. In fact, it was just a game for them. Material things were more important than love and important matters in life. Nothing was of much importance except enjoying sex and games. Even the church congregations were not important to them. They could miss it for the sake of a ball party. Hence, only material things have any purpose in the eyes of those people.

The attitude of officials:

Alexander Pope also mentioned the attitude of officials. They were not ready to take their duties seriously. Instead of being loyal to their work, they made quick decisions so that they could enjoy their meals. They wanted to attend every small and large gathering around them. Similar is the case with other people in society. Merchants want to be rich by hook or crook. Therefore, the poet has sketched a very detailed picture of that century, in which the people had no morality at all.

Besides, many parts of the poem focus on young ladies and men of that era. Lord Petre and Belinda are representatives of that country. They are young and have only one purpose in life and that is to enjoy luxuries. Their attitude is enough to discuss what was happening in their times. Hence, intentionally or unintentionally, Alexander Pope has put reality in front of his readers.


The crux of the above discussion is that Alexander Pope has portrayed a complete picture of the aristocratic society of the eighteen century. “The Rape of the Lock” is just not a mock epic but a historical poem. It reveals the attitude of the young generation of the eighteenth century. Pope has also demonstrated the attitude of judges and government officials towards their duties. The easy flow of money made the life of many people easier. The primary purpose of the poem may have something else but its secondary purpose is to deal with London life. “The Rape of The Lock” is a mirror to the eighteenth-century aristocratic society as it brings to light the idiosyncrasies of a class of aristocrats in the Eighteenth-century aristocratic English society.