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She becomes more beautiful every moment, makes her smiles lovelier, summons her graces, And makes herself yet more lovely. Her cheeks blush and her eyes sparkle more. The busy sylphs surround her she is their darling helping to set her coiffure and arrange her hair, some fold the sleeve of her mantua, and others make folds in the gown and her maid Betty is praised for things the sylphs, not she, have done.

One of the epic set-pieces always described the ritual of the epic hero arming himself for battle. And who is she out to conquer? The male sex, of course. Belinda has seated herself at her dressing table and is looking at herself in the mirror. The altar is the dressing-table. The word toilet or toilette came from the French word for a small piece of fabric or cloth toile laid out on a table so that everything necessary for hair and face could be laid out upon it.

During the reign of Louis XIV in France, the ritual of the dressing-table became very fashionable and the fashion spread to England. Besides, the Bible is very likely a miniature decorative Bible of the kind often carried by ladies of the time as ornament, not for reading. It seems to me that the pace of this section is quite stately and reverent. The repetition emphasises the importance of what is displayed — an altar to the glory and power of beauty.

The nymph, Belinda, is intent — concentrating hard.

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Pope keeps us in suspense for half the next line, too, merely increasing the reverence in which she holds that which she adores by observing that her head is uncovered. Then he reveals the unlikely and entirely wrong object of her worship: make-up. The mood is solemn, as at a religious ritual; yet Pope is mocking, too. This girl is worshipping herself and her appearance. How critical is he of the society that Belinda represents? Is he wittily mocking, or savage? Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billets-doux are scattered about at random.

And what is it doing amongst all the make-up and ornaments on the dressing-table? Does Belinda regard aids to beauty as a priest would regard the Bible — central to his life? Is it another example of the confused, topsy-turvy values of this society and the importance it attaches to appearance; to transient and material things instead of to eternal and spiritual values?

This is a point made much more forcefully by Clarissa in Canto 5. The pins are probably jewelled hair-pins; the patches are tiny circles of black material worn on the face as beauty accessories. They could be used to hide small-pox scars. The position of a patch on your face could send a coded message.

Women pasted them on the face, neck, and breast, according to a newly emerging language of symbolism: a patch above the lip meant coquetry, on a forehead, grandeur, and at the corner of an eye, passion. Have the furthest corners of the world produced magnificent offerings only to have them reduced to little potions in pots, caskets and boxes; tortoises and elephants reduced to hair-combs? Or are they gifts fit for a radiantly lovely goddess? Does Belinda represent a grasping, rapacious society, plundering the globe for spoil? Or you could deduce that she has almost transformed herself with the help of the sylphs into a goddess.

And what about the outcome of her immediate battle conquering men at Hampton Court. Will she be conquered herself? Although this story purports to be concerned with what happens to a particular young woman one day at Hampton Court, neither Belinda nor anyone else is given much individual characterisation. Belinda is important as a representative of fashionable society, not as a unique individual.

She is beautiful — her name, Belle, reminds you of this. A belle is also a fashionable young woman. Betty, too, is a typical name for a maid in those days. Florio and Damon are standard names for lovers in light poetry. Canto One is primarily a picture of society: fashionable ladies sleeping till after twelve; the activities and preoccupations of society ladies going to the theatre, driving in the Ring, being called Your Grace, and so on ; young women getting dressed to go out. We discover, too, the important values that society ignores in its pursuit of beauty, titles, reputation.

Paradise Lost provides a good example of this huge range. Not to be behindhand in producing the goods, Pope here offers us India and Arabia. She is Venus, being attended by supernatural powers to ready her for her entrance at the … court, and her toilette is entirely appropriate to a goddess. Thomas Parnell — was a fellow Scriblerian, poet and friend of Pope. This extract from it was included by Pope in his tribute to his dead friend, a book entitled Poems on Several Occasions, published in The extract below describes Pandora being transformed into a beautiful young woman, and Pope followed it by his own passage describing Belinda at her dressing-table, thus drawing a direct comparison.

There is airhead Belinda level — who seems unlikely to read the poem at all, and not with any understanding if she should look at it. But the poem sparkles with wit and erudition — all those allusions to epic poetry — and uses dazzling poetic techniques. The Spectator was a periodical published daily by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, both politicians, in the early 18th century. Its issues sold up to copies a day, and carried news and comment, especially comments on manners, morals and literature.

The publication pretended to be the reports by a Mr Spectator on the conversations of a club comprising representatives of the country squirearchy, the town, commerce and the army. Its essays, as seen in this example, show that urban life in the early 18th century was not so far different from today, with observations on begging and binge-drinking. The magazine of essays was a popular model for expressing various views on society in the 18th century. Though often short-lived, they sold well and were read by thousands.

Henri Misson, a French traveller in England at the very end of the 17th century, writes on the subject of Hide-Park sic. The Muff and the Fan come together from the different Ends of the Earth. I quickly perceived that they cast hostile Glances upon one another; and that their Patches were placed in those different Situations, as Party-Signals to distinguish Friends from Foes. These last, however, as I afterwards found, diminished daily, and took their Party with one Side or the other; insomuch that I observed in several of them, the Patches, which were before dispersed equally, are now all gone over to the Whig or Tory Side of the Face.

The Censorious say, That the Men, whose Hearts are aimed at, are very often the Occasions that one Part of the Face is thus dishonoured, and lies under a kind of Disgrace, while the other is so much Set off and Adorned by the Owner; and that the Patches turn to the Right or to the Left, according to the Principles of the Man who is most in Favour. But whatever may be the Motives of a few fantastical Coquets, who do not Patch for the Publick Good so much as for their own private Advantage, it is certain, that there are several Women of Honour who patch out of Principle, and with an Eye to the Interest of their Country.

Nay, I am informed that some of them adhere so stedfastly to their Party, and are so far from sacrificing their Zeal for the Publick to their Passion for any particular Person, that in a late Draught of Marriage-Articles a Lady has stipulated with her Husband, That, whatever his Opinions are, she shall be at liberty to Patch on which Side she pleases.

But, whatever this natural Patch may seem to intimate, it is well known that her Notions of Government are still the same. This unlucky Mole, however, has mis-led several Coxcombs; and like the hanging out of false Colours, made some of them converse with Rosalinda in what they thought the Spirit of her Party, when on a sudden she has given them an unexpected Fire, that has sunk them all at once.

I am told that many virtuous Matrons, who formerly have been taught to believe that this artificial Spotting of the Face was unlawful, are now reconciled by a Zeal for their Cause, to what they could not be prompted by a Concern for their Beauty. This way of declaring War upon one another, puts me in mind of what is reported of the Tigress, that several Spots rise in her Skin when she is angry, or as Mr.

Fixed it above my left eyebrow. Richard Lovelace, an English poet in the seventeenth century, fought on the side of the king during the Civil War. Here is his poem on the vexed subject of patches:. LADIES turn conjurers, and can impart The hidden mystery of the black art, Black artificial patches do betray; They more affect the works of night than day. The creature strives the Creator to disgrace, By patching that which is a perfect face: A little stain upon the purest dye Is both offensive to the heart and eye.

Patches were also used for rheum the common cold , as appears from a passage in Westward Ho , by John Webster and Thomas Dekker, I am so troubled with the rheum too. How often I have told you you must get a patch. This is a powder box of the kind presumably that Belinda had on her dressing-table. What was Belinda wearing? The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train and matching petticoat.

The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat and several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the figure the required shape a corset was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen and stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching.

They fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso and to emphasise the waist. Link: vam. Information from lincstothepast.

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The petticoat was usually constructed from the same material as the Mantua and was worn over a whale bone hoop. The petticoat could vary in shape and width and the architecture and furniture of the period was often designed to accommodate some of the more extreme styles.

The stomacher would be pinned or sewed in place after the Mantua had been put on. A narrow belt was often added to finish off the waistline. A good source of images and information on the mantua style of dress that Belinda would have worn can be found on: isiswardrobe. Image of a mantua, My following Correspondent, who calls herself Clarinda, is such a Journalist as I require: She seems by her Letter to be placed in a modish State of Indifference between Vice and Virtue, and to be susceptible of either, were there proper Pains taken with her.

Had her Journal been filled with Gallantries, or such Occurrences as had shewn her wholly divested of her natural Innocence, notwithstanding it might have been more pleasing to the Generality of Readers, I should not have published it; but as it is only the Picture of a Life filled with a fashionable kind of Gaiety and Laziness, I shall set down five Days of it, as I have received it from the Hand of my fair Correspondent.

You must know, Mr. As I am at my own Disposal, I come up to Town every Winter, and pass my Time in it after the manner you will find in the following Journal, which I begun to write upon the very Day after your Spectator upon that Subject. From Eleven to One. Gave Orders for Veny to be combed and washed.

I look best in Blue. From Four to Six. From Eleven at Night to Eight in the Morning. From Ten to Eleven. Sent to borrow Lady Faddles Cupid for Veny. Read the Play-Bills. Received a Letter from Mr. Rest of the Morning. Broke a Tooth in my little Tortoise-shell Comb. Looked pale. Fontange tells me my Glass is not true. Dressed by Three.

From Four to Eleven. Saw Company. Froths Opinion of Milton. His Account of the Mohocks. His Fancy for a Pin-cushion. Picture in the Lid of his Snuff-box. Old Lady Faddle promises me her Woman to cut my Hair. Lost five Guineas at Crimp. From Ten to Twelve. In Conference with my Mantua-Maker. Sorted a Suit of Ribbands. Broke my Blue China Cup. One in the Afternoon. Called for my flowered Handkerchief.

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  7. Worked half a Violet-Leaf in it. Eyes aked and Head out of Order. Threw by my Work, and read over the remaining Part of Aurenzebe. From Four to Twelve. Found Mrs. Spitely at home. Conversation: Mrs. Brilliants Necklace false Stones. Old Lady Loveday going to be married to a young Fellow that is not worth a Groat. Miss Prue gone into the Country. Tom Townley has red Hair. Spitely whispered in my Ear that she had something to tell me about Mr. Froth, I am sure it is not true.

    From Eight to Nine. Shifted a Patch for Half an Hour before I could determine it. Fixed it above my left Eye-brow. From Twelve to Two. At Chappel. A great deal of good Company. The third Air in the new Opera. Lady Blithe dressed frightfully. From Three to Four. Miss Kitty called upon me to go to the Opera before I was risen from Table. Six a-Clock. Went to the Opera. I did not see Mr. Froth till the beginning of the second Act. Froth talked to a Gentleman in a black Wig. Bowed to a Lady in the front Box.

    Froth cried out Ancora. Froth led me to my Chair. I think he squeezed my Hand. Eight a-Clock. Waked by Miss Kitty. Aurenzebe lay upon the Chair by me. Kitty repeated without Book the Eight best Lines in the Play. Went in our Mobbs to the dumb Man [4], according to Appointment. Told me that my Lovers Name began with a G. The Conjurer was within a Letter of Mr. Upon looking back into this my Journal, I find that I am at a loss to know whether I pass my Time well or ill; and indeed never thought of considering how I did it before I perused your Speculation upon that Subject.

    I scarce find a single Action in these five Days that I can thoroughly approve of, except the working upon the Violet-Leaf, which I am resolved to finish the first Day I am at leisure. As for Mr. The latter of them I will turn off, if you insist upon it; and if Mr. Froth does not bring Matters to a Conclusion very suddenly, I will not let my Life run away in a Dream.

    To resume one of the Morals of my first Paper, and to confirm Clarinda in her good Inclinations, I would have her consider what a pretty Figure she would make among Posterity, were the History of her whole Life published like these five Days of it. At Venus obscuro gradientes aere sepsit, Et multo Nebulae circum Dea fudit amictu, Cernere , ne quis eos—. I have thoroughly examined the present State of Religion in Great-Britain , and am able to acquaint you with the predominant Vice of every Market-Town in the whole Island.

    I can tell you the Progress that Virtue has made in all our Cities, Boroughs, and Corporations; and know as well the evil Practices that are committed in Berwitk or Exeter , as what is done in my own Family. In a Word, Sir, I have my Correspondents in the remotest Parts of the Nation, who send me up punctual Accounts from time to time of all the little Irregularities that fall under their Notice in their several Districts and Divisions. I am no less acquainted with the particular Quarters and Regions of this great Town, than with the different Parts and Distributions of whole Nation.

    I can describe every Parish by its Impieties, and can tell you in which of our Streets Lewdness prevails, which Gaming has taken the Possession of and where Drunkenness has got the better of them both. After this short Account of my self, I must let you know, that the Design of this Paper is to give you Information of a certain irregular Assembly which I think falls very properly under your Observation, especially since the Persons it is composed of are Criminals too considerable for the Animadversions of our Society.

    I mean, Sir, the Midnight Masque, which has of late been frequently held in one of the most conspicuous Parts of the Town, and which I hear will be continued with Additions and Improvements. Both these Reasons which secure them from our Authority, make them obnoxious to yours ; as both their Disguise and their Numbers will give no particular Person Reason to think himself affronted by you.

    The Women either come by themselves, or are introduced by Friends, who are obliged to quit them upon their first Entrance, to the Conversation of any Body that addresses himself to them. There are several Rooms where the Parties may retire, and, if they please, show their Faces by Consent. In short, the whole Design of this libidinous Assembly seems to terminate in Assignations and Intrigues; and I hope you will take effectual Methods, by your publick Advice and Admonitions, to prevent such a promiscuous Multitude of both Sexes from meeting together in so clandestine a Manner.

    Not long after the Perusal of this Letter I received another upon the same Subject; which by the Date and Stile of it, I take to be written by some young Templer. When a Man has been guilty of any Vice or Folly, I think the best Attonement he can make for it is to warn others not to fall into the like. Upon my first going in I was attacked by half a Dozen female Quakers, who seemed willing to adopt me for a Brother; but, upon a nearer Examination, I found they were a Sisterhood of Coquets, disguised in that precise Habit.

    I was soon after taken out to dance, and, as I fancied, by a Woman of the first Quality, for she was very tall, and moved gracefully. As soon as the Minuet was over, we ogled one another through our Masques; and as I am very well read in Waller , I repeated to her the four following Verses out of his poem to Vandike. She told me that she hoped my Face was not akin to my tongue; and looking upon her Watch, I accidentally discovered the Figure of a Coronet on the back Part of it.

    I was so transported with the Thought of such an Amour, that I plied her from one Room to another with all the Gallantries I could invent; and at length brought things to so happy an Issue, that she gave me a private Meeting the next Day, without Page or Footman, Coach or Equipage. I have since heard by a very great Accident, that this fine Lady does not live far from Covent-Garden , and that I am not the first Cully whom she has passed herself upon for a Countess.

    Thus Sir, you see how I have mistaken a Cloud for a Juno; and if you can make any use of this Adventure for the Benefit of those who may possibly be as vain young Coxcombs as my self:, I do most heartily give you Leave. I am, Sir, Your most humble admirer , B. I design to visit the next Masquerade my self, in the same Habit I wore at Grand Cairo ; and till then shall suspend my Judgment of this Midnight Entertainment. The Misfortune of the thing is, that People dress themselves in what they have a Mind to be, and not what they are fit for.

    There is not a Girl in the Town, but let her have her Will in going to a Masque, and she shall dress as a Shepherdess. But let me beg of them to read the Arcadia, or some other good Romance, before they appear in any such Character at my House. The last Day we presented, every Body was so rashly habited, that when they came to speak to each other, a Nymph with a Crook had not a Word to say but in the pert Stile of the Pit Bawdry; and a Man in the Habit of a Philosopher was speechless, till an occasion offered of expressing himself in the Refuse of the Tyring-Rooms. Yale University Press , pages — Table-carpets mostly consisted of a plain material woollen cloth, or silk or woollen velvet trimmed all round with a fringe.

    The carpet was at first protected from damage by powder and other cosmetics by a small linen cloth — a toilette — but this gradually became a more important feature until the toilette evolved as a richly trimmed cloth in its own right and might be of velvet or silk. Such ensembles were given as expensive presents at the end of the century. Below, on the inside of a snuff box lid, is an image of a lady at her dressing table, reading a love-letter. The box may be of earlier manufacture than the painting in the lid. The interior of the lid is painted with a lady seated before her dressing table and mirror; she reads a letter whilst attended by a coloured servant bringing chocolate or coffee.

    The thumbpiece and mount of the lid are chased with stylized foliage and flower heads. Lady at her Toilette by Jacob Ochtervelt ,5 — , Painted possibly about from The Minneapolis institute of Arts. The table in this painting is covered by a velvet table-carpet covered with a white linen toilette. Link: Hoydensandfirebrands. Ladies often used wash-balls. Take forty pounds of rice in fine powder, twenty-eight pounds of fine flour, twenty-eight pounds of Starch powder, twelve pounds of white lead, and four pounds of Oris root in fine powder; but no whitening.

    Mix the whole well together, and passit twice through a fine hair seive; then place it in a a dry place, and keep it for use. The usual way of darkening the hair was by the mechanical means of a leaden comb. In The Tatler number , January , Addison describes a woman to be the most consummate work of nature. The lynx shall cast its skin at her feet to make her a tippet; the peacock, parrot and swan shall pay contribution to her muff, the sea shall be searched for shells, and the rocks for gems; and every part ofnature furnish out its share towards the embellishment of a creature that is the most consummate work of it.

    Lydia mourns not only the loss of her lover, Damon; she mourns as well the loss of her youth and the inconsistency of love. Life seems suddenly empty to her, and she wonders what to do with her time; she thinks of going shopping at the Exchange, but she knows that shopping will only remind her of similar times spent with her faithless lover in the past. The eclogue first appeared in the Idylls of the Greek poet Theocritus c. Scene, The Royal Exchange. O Youth! O spring of life! Ah hapless nymph! She doubly to fifteen may make pretence, Alike we read it in her face and sense.

    Her reputation! Why will ye then, vain Fops, her eyes believe?

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    What shall I do? At chappel shall I wear the morn away? How am I curst! Fly from perfidious man, the sex disdain; Let servile Chloe wear the nuptial chain. He games; he swears; he drinks; he sighs; he roves; Yet Chloe can believe he fondly loves. Mistress and wife can well supply his need, A miss for pleasure, and a wife for breed.

    Why are these sobs? Is love the cause? Yet if he should but feign a rival flame? Her maid appears; A band-box in her steady hand she bears. How charmingly you look! But whether Swift is criticising the over-idealistic notions of the young man, Strephon, or whether he is satirising the apparent perfection of the young lady who issues forth after five hours of dressing, is unclear.

    Beginning with an ideal image of his lover he looks through the contents of her room, but encounters only objects that repulse him. He finds sweaty smocks, dirt-filled combs, oily cloths, grimy towels, snot encrusted handkerchiefs, jars of spit, cosmetics derived from dog intestines, and a mucky, rancid clothes chest. Celia, Celia, Celia shits! In every woman he sees through the powdered wigs and painted faces to the grime beneath.

    He realized that women do indeed defecate, they smell, they get sick, and they are human beings. Another interpretation of the poem is that he was perhaps on the side of women, and men for that matter, in calling everyone to be more merciful and accept people the way they are. Both Strephon and Celia are metaphors for men and women, representing everything good and bad. He goes on into greater detail about the repulsive things he sees and finds:. It symbolized evil and human flaws. We picture Strephon going through the box, as we watch laughing at him for not being able to find anything good inside.

    Five hours, and who can do it less in? By haughty Celia spent in dressing; The goddess from her chamber issues, Arrayed in lace, brocades and tissues. And Betty otherwise employed, Stole in, and took a strict survey, Of all the litter as it lay; Whereof, to make the matter clear, An inventory follows here. Beneath the armpits well besmeared. Strephon, the rogue, displayed it wide, And turned it round on every side. On such a point few words are best, And Strephon bids us guess the rest, But swears how damnably the men lie, In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.

    Now listen while he next produces The various combs for various uses, Filled up with dirt so closely fixt, No brush could force a way betwixt. Hard by a filthy basin stands, Fouled with the scouring of her hands; The basin takes whatever comes The scrapings of her teeth and gums, A nasty compound of all hues, For here she spits, and here she spews.

    But oh! The stockings why should I expose, Stained with the marks of stinking toes; Or greasy coifs and pinners reeking, Which Celia slept at least a week in? A pair of tweezers next he found To pluck her brows in arches round, Or hairs that sink the forehead low, Or on her chin like bristles grow. And must you needs describe the chest? That careless wench! In vain the workman showed his wit With rings and hinges counterfeit To make it seem in this disguise A cabinet to vulgar eyes; For Strephon ventured to look in, Resolved to go through thick and thin; He lifts the lid, there needs no more, He smelled it all the time before.

    The vapors flew from out the vent, But Strephon cautious never meant The bottom of the pan to grope, And foul his hands in search of Hope. The petticoats and gown perfume, Which waft a stink round every room. Thus finishing his grand survey, Disgusted Strephon stole away Repeating in his amorous fits, Oh! Soon punished Strephon for his peeping; His foul imagination links Each Dame he sees with all her stinks: And, if unsavory odors fly, Conceives a lady standing by: All women his description fits, And both ideas jump like wits: But vicious fancy coupled fast, And still appearing in contrast.

    I pity wretched Strephon blind To all the charms of female kind; Should I the queen of love refuse, Because she rose from stinking ooze? When Celia in her glory shows, If Strephon would but stop his nose Who now so impiously blasphemes Her ointments, daubs, and paints and creams, Her washes, slops, and every clout, With which he makes so foul a rout He soon would learn to think like me, And bless his ravished sight to see Such order from confusion sprung, Such gaudy tulips raised from dung.

    Notes by Jack Lynch 1. The names Strephon and Celia come from classical pastoral poetry or romance. Betty is the generic name for a maidservant. Lead was used as a cosmetic to whiten the face. Allum flower , or powded alum, is used as an antiperspirant. Tripsy , a typical name of a lapdog. Pocky suggests either smallpox or a venereal disease. When first Diana leaves her bed, Diana — goddess of the moon and of chastity.

    Love with white lead cements his wings; a poisonous lead-based cosmetic paste. Keep up the glasses of your chair, windows of a sedan chair. What whispers must the beauty bear! What hourly nonsense haunts her ear! Did not the tender nonsense strike, Contempt and scorn might soon dislike.

    Forbidding airs might thin the place, The slightest flap a fly can chase. But who can drive the numerous breed? Chase one, another will succeed. Sat meditating on her beauty, She now was pensive, now was gay, And lolled the sultry hours away. As thus in indolence she lies, A giddy wasp around her flies.

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    He now advances, now retires, Now to her neck and cheek aspires. Of all the plagues that heaven hath sent, A wasp is most impertinent. Can such offence your anger wake? Those cherry lips that breathe perfume, That cheek so ripe with youthful bloom, Made me with strong desire pursue The fairest peach that ever grew. Sure of success, away they flew. They share the dainties of the day, Round her with airy music play;. And now they flutter, now they rest, Now soar again, and skim her breast.

    Nor were they banished, till she found That wasps have stings, and felt the wound. Belinda takes the boat up the Thames to Hampton Court. And that is all that actually happens in Canto Two. Fair Nymphs, and well-drest Youths around her shone. On her white breast a sparkling Cross she wore, Which Jews might kiss, and Infidels adore. Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike, And, like the sun, they shine on all alike. Beautiful young women and fashionable young men surrounded her but every eye was fixed exclusively on her. She wore a sparkling crucifix on her white bosom which Jews might kiss and non-Jews adore the cross or the beautiful bosom?

    Her lively appearance reveals a mind as quick as her eyes and equally unconcentrated. She smiles on everyone but has no favourites; often she says no to requests but never does so offensively. Her eyes, as bright as the sun, look at the people who are gazing at her and, just like the sun, her eyes shine on everyone. Her easy graceful manner and her sweetness would hide her faults if beautiful young women had faults. If she does make mistakes you would forget them as soon as you looked at her lovely face.

    In fact in the early 18th century, far from being silver, the Thames would have had shores encrusted with coal dust and water full of sewage. His eye ranges over a crowd of fashionable young people, but they are all looking at Belinda. Already ideas and images from the first Canto are re-emerging: the idea of Belinda as a rival to the sun in glory and importance; the matter of her questionable priorities and moral values.

    It starts as a compliment: her looks reveal a lively, sprightly, quick mind. Actually, we already knew this; at the end of her long detailed dream containing an important warning, a love letter sent everything straight out of her head. David Fairer points out the complex way in which Pope uses the mock epic style. Canto II, lines 19 — Belinda has two beautiful locks or ringlets that hang down her neck. Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in slender chains.

    This young woman had two beautifully dressed locks of hair which completely finished off the men who looked at them. Love imprisons his slaves in mazes like these and chains as slim as these locks of hair padlock the mighty hearts of men. We snare birds with traps of fine hair and catch fish with fine fishing lines. Beautiful hair ensnares the kingly race of men And a single hair can draw attract us men irresistibly towards beauty. In the portraits of Anne and her favourites we find the new element of the cow-horn curl, a formal arrangement of the front locks which was combined with a multitude of puffs and bends and trailing ringlets.

    Portrait circa — 20, sitter and artist unknown. Shows contemporary coiffure of curls down the neck. Lawrences of Crewkerne, Fine Art Auctioneers. The joke is that all this sonorous build-up is simply about two curls; the grandiose language is completely out of place. The many words meaning a trap imply that women set out deliberately to catch men, just as fish and birds are caught.

    And Glynis Ridley reads more into the couplet. Determined to win it, he thought about a way of doing so, whether to seize a lock by force, or whether to deceive Belinda by trickery. For if he could succeed very few people would ask whether he had achieved his ambition by deceit or force.

    For this reason, before sunrise, he had begged the heavens and adored all the powers but chiefly the power of Love. He had constructed an altar to Love made up of twelve huge guilded volumes of French romances. Three garters, one glove and all the love-tokens from his former cast-off lovers lay on the altar. With sentimental love letters he sets light to the fire and breathes three love-lorn sighs to help the flames catch. The powers listened to his request and granted half of it and the rest of his prayer was blown away by the winds.

    In flashback, Pope now introduces the Baron. The Baron has been up before sunrise. The alliterative fs stress the dubious means by which he aims to succeed: force or fraud. However, even in epic poetry, deeds were not always without sinister undertones. Rape of the Lock.

    Whether deceit or valour, who would ask in warfare? Aeneid, ii, In true heroic fashion, the Baron builds an altar and prays to the gods. The gods, also true to epic convention, grant only half his prayer compare the Aeneid. But Pope sends up the whole epic undertaking. These, the blockbusters of the day, were written in the first half of the seventeenth century. They were incredibly long, sometimes twelve volumes and several thousand pages. The Baron uses a discarded love-letter to light the fire and fans the flames with three loving sighs presumably sighs of fiery passion.

    Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize. Is this the portrait of a hero, or of a heartless, serial heart-breaker, ditching garters, gloves and old love-letters as so much trash? The energetic, explosive ps crowd in, without even a pause at the end of the line. Canto II, lines 47 — Belinda makes her way up the Thames and many sylphs surround her.

    But now the boat sails up the Thames free from any care the sunbeams glinting on the water while beautiful music is played and the sounds at last die along the waters. All, that is, except for the sylph, who was weighed down with care; The approaching disaster weighed heavily on him. Airy whispers are just heard amongst the sails that to humans seemed to be breezes. Some sylphs unfolded their wings to the sun, wafted on the breeze, or sank in golden clouds; their shapes were transparent, too fine for humans to see.

    Their adaptable bodies seeming half dissolved in light, their airy garments billowed loosely in the breeze like thin glittering textures of dew dipped in the richest colours of the skies, Where light plays in constantly mingling colours, While every sunbeam throws new colours, Colours that change whenever the sylphs beat their wings. In the midst of the crowd, on the golden mast of the boat, which made him a head taller than any of the others, was Ariel. His purple wings opened to the sun He raised his blue wand, and began to speak.

    It is a sunny day with gentle westerly breezes and smooth waves on the river. The perfect natural background emphasises the overall harmony of the scene.

    The Rape of the Lock: Canto 3 by Alexander Pope | Poetry Foundation

    The liquid ls give soft, watery sounds; the long vowels and repeated ms evoke a dreamy, gentle atmosphere. He summons his fellow sylphs, with whom he shares the task of protecting Belinda. There follows a breathtakingly beautiful passage describing the sylphs. You need to read passages like this aloud to hear the full wonder of what Pope is doing. The restless, haphazard, delicate movements of the sylphs are mimicked through the meaning of the verbs and the unpredictable stresses in these lines; none of the rhythms or stressed words are heavy and they are never consistent.

    The sylphs are the mock epic verson of the epic gods, reduced to flimsy proportions. Here they add a delicate, shimmering, beautiful, fragile yet very feminine aura to the poem. The epic hero is always taller than his followers; Ariel, too, is taller — but Pope undermines his apparent eminence by explaining that this is only because he is placed on the mast-head. Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear!

    Sylphs and female sylphs sylphides , listen to your chief; fays, fairies, geniuses, elves and demons, pay attention! You know the different areas of action and tasks given by eternal law to angels. Some play in in the purest region of the skies, above the moon, and delight in the daylight.

    Some direct the journey of comets or roll the planets through the universe. Some, in the skies between the earth and the moon, a less refined part of the heavens, in the moonlight follow shooting stars Or suck in the mists in the heavier air or dip their wings in the rainbow or provoke fierce storms on the winter oceans or ensure that the kindly rain falls on farmland. Others are in charge of human beings on earth; they watch what the humans do and guide their actions.

    The most important angels preside over the nations and guard the British throne the queen , with heavenly weapons. Their activities are cosmic: they guide the course of comets and planets, pursue shooting stars, initiate fierce tempests, oversee the kindly rainfall on cornfields. Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide: Of these the chief the care of Nations own, And guard with Arms divine the British Throne. The alliterating ws help us to see the close link between the angels watching and the human ways.

    This reliable order and consistent pattern perhaps reflects the order of a life governed by angels, in contrast with the topsy.. We have to save powder from being blown away by too strong a wind, and preserve the precious fragrance of scent. We have to take bright colours for a lotion from spring flowers and steal colours from rainbows before they let the colours disappear in showers. We have to curl the wavy hair of young beauties, help their cheeks to blush and inspire their manner.

    Often, through dreams, we give a young woman the idea of changing a flounce gather on her dress or adding a furbelow a pleat. Wittily juxtaposed with the lofty responsibilities of the angels are the offices of the sylphs. Or, to put it another way, Pope is reminding us of the really important human activities, guided by the angels, and the superficiality of beauty, appearance, fashion, presided over by the sylphs.

    However, it seems that dew, especially that collected on Mayday, was an excellent beauty lotion a wash is a cosmetic lotion for the complexion. Cowslip washes were thought to get rid of freckles. This does not exactly make sense in the lines. Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow, To change a Flounce, or add a Furbelow.

    Following this line of thought, the lock of hair stands for a different sort of hair, as Belind makes explicit at the end of Canto IV. At the same time, Pope is making it clear how lovely the fashionable young women of high society are. Even as he mocks and criticises society here, its superficiality, its obsession with appearance he shows through the sensuous writing an enjoyment of the beauty of the fashionable world.

    Canto II, lines — Ariel warns his troops that some dire event threatens Belinda that day. Today, dreadful omens threaten the most beautiful young woman that ever deserved the care of a watchful spirit. Some dire disaster, either by force or deceit — but what it is or where it will happen is the secret of fate.

    Either the young woman will lose her virginity or some fragile china jar will crack; either she will blot her virtue and reputation or she will stain the silk brocade of her new dress. She may forget to say her prayers, or miss a masked ball Or it might be that her little dog Shock will fall out of her arms. Hurry then, spirits; get back to looking after Belinda. Ariel himself will guard Shock, the little dog. Fifty specially selected sylphs of noted ability will guard and take responsibility for that most important object of all, the petticoat.

    That seven-layer defence has often failed although it is stiffened with hoops and whalebone. And carefully guard the whole circumference of the petticoat. Having outlined the duties of the angels and of the sylphs or, in more serious terms, Pope having reminded us of the confused values of this society , Ariel draws attention to the reason for his speech.

    He shows us the confusion between the important and the unimportant by linking or juxtaposing completely unexpected things. In the first couplet, the opening line is serious, to do with morality, right or wrong behaviour. Diana was the goddess of chastity; thus one possible evil is for Belinda to lose her virginity.

    Instead, we are offered a crack in a China jar. The shock lies in yoking together, in one rhyming couplet, the moral and the material. There was a craze for Chinese porcelain in the early 18th century. At the same time, he raises the idea that virginity is as fragile and as precious and beautiful and valuable as a China jar. A pair of large Kangxi porcelain Famille Verte jars and domed covers c. One of the landscape scenes. This literary device is called zeugma and, as with the preceding couplet, the effect is shocking and witty, raising questions.

    Again, spiritual concerns and fun are linked they are obviously considered equally important by fashionable young ladies in the fourth line, and this time Pope does it through the exact balance of the line. This has the effect of making us equate and assess the comparative importance of the forgotten prayers and the missed masquerade. Fashionable brocade was very beautiful. Much brocade was made in Spitalfields by the community of Huguenots who had fled from France and established themselves in East London. Raising expectations in order to let them go flat on their face is bathos, a comic deflating technique.

    The god Vulcan made it for him, from seven layers of leather bound with silver. The very considerable size of these fashionable petticoats came in for a certain amount of teasing. I saw a young lady fall down the other day; and believe me, Sir, she very much resembled an overturned bell without a clapper. Many other disasters I could tell you of, that befal themselves, as well as others, by means of this unwieldy garment. I wish, Mr. Guardian, you would join with me in showing your dislike of such a monstrous fashion, and I hope when the ladies see it is the opinion of two of the wisest men in England, they will be convinced of their folly.

    He pokes fun at the hoop, a linen underskirt extended by horizontal bands of whalebone. He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend; Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend; Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair; Some hang upon the pendants of her ear: With beating hearts the dire event they wait, Anxious, and trembling for the birth of Fate. If any spirit neglects his duty or leaves the beautiful young woman unattended he will soon experience the punishment for his sins. He will be imprisoned by the stopper in a glass bottle or pinned down with pins.

    Or lie plunged in lakes of cosmetic lotions or wedged for aeons in the eye of a needle. Unguents and ointments shall hinder his flight and his silken wings will be clogged so that he cannot fly Or astringents to stop bleeding will contract his thin essence like a shrivelled flower. Or, like Ixion bound to his wheel, the wretched sylph shall feel the chocolate mill whirling him round and round; in fumes of roasting chocolate he will glow and tremble at the sea of chocolate that froths beneath him. He finished speaking; the spirits descended from the sails.

    Some, hovering in circles, move around the young woman. Some thread themselves through the ringlets of her hair, Some hang upon her earrings. With their hearts beating fast, they await the terrible event, anxious and trembling to see what Fate will bring. Ariel promises that terrible punishments will be meted out to any sylphs who fail to protect Belinda. The sylphs will undergo tortures reminiscent of those threatened by Jove in the Iliad , and the torments of the fallen angels on the burning lake in Hell in Paradise Lost.

    A bodkin here is rather like a needle, made of bone, ivory or steel. In Book 5 of Paradise Lost , the army of angels is called together by God. Milton writes,. He reminds his reader of the foibles of high society, not of the vice and corruption. Whereas Milton, in his epic poem, was justifying the ways of God to man, Pope is laughing the two offended families, the Fermors and the Petres, together. The legendary and appalling punishment of Ixion expelled from Heaven by the king of the gods and tied to a fiery wheel which rolled eternally through the skies is to be emulated for any neglectful sylph.

    But where we would expect burning lakes of Hell, we get vials small glass bottles , pins, washes cosmetic lotions , bodkins, gums and pomatums creams , alom stypticks astringents, toners and chocolate a fashionable drink for ladies; chocolate powder was combined with hot water in a pot, whirled together with a swizzle stick or stirrer between the palms of your hands. And the relentless swirling of the wheel is reflected in the run-on line. You can clearly see the bodkin with its eye, in this agate and gold etui set of circa , made in London, which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    An etui contained the essentials for the sewing or dressing table. This one is made of agate, mounted in gold, set with an emerald and diamonds, with gold suspension chains, containing from the left scissors, fruit knife, combined pen and pencil and bodkin. A scented ointment pomatum , sounds like a modern cosmetic.

    An alum styptic can be had today on Amazon; it is used by men who cut themselves when they are shaving, as it is something that lessens bleeding, as the styptic works by contracting and the alum is an astringent. I wonder if Pope is doing two things here. He is giving us a miniaturised world in the Rape of the Lock by inventing cosmetic hellish tortures for the sylphs. Certainly the lead that was used in many cosmetic preparations had unpleasant, sometimes fatal, effects.

    Swinfield: p97 The make-up they used caused the eyes to swell and become inflamed, attacked the enamel on the teeth and changed the texture of the skin causing it to blacken, it was also not uncommon to suffer baldness, and for a time it became fashionable to shave the front hairline. It was known that heavy use of lead could cause death. And what is this dire event we know it from the title of the poem?

    Pope boasted that this sold more than three thousand copies in its first four days. The poem was much translated and contributed to the growing popularity of mock-heroic in Europe. The poem satirises a small incident by comparing it to the epic world of the gods. It was based on an actual event recounted to the poet by Pope's friend, John Caryll. Arabella Fermor and her suitor, Lord Petre , were both from aristocratic recusant Catholic families, at a time in England when, under such laws as the Test Act , all denominations except Anglicanism suffered legal restrictions and penalties.

    For example, Petre, being a Catholic, could not take the place in the House of Lords that would otherwise have been rightfully his. Petre had cut off a lock of Arabella's hair without permission, and the consequent argument had created a breach between the two families. The poem's title does not refer to the extreme of sexual rape , but to an earlier alternative definition of the word derived from the Latin rapere supine stem raptum , "to snatch, to grab, to carry off" [3] [4] —in this case, the theft and carrying away of a lock of hair.

    In terms of the sensibilities of the age, however, even this non-consensual personal invasion might be interpreted as bringing dishonour. Pope, also a Catholic, wrote the poem at the request of friends in an attempt to "comically merge the two" worlds, the heroic with the social. He utilised the character Belinda to represent Arabella and introduced an entire system of " sylphs ", or guardian spirits of virgins, a parodised version of the gods and goddesses of conventional epic. Pope derived his sylphs from the 17th-century French Rosicrucian novel Comte de Gabalis.

    Pope's poem uses the traditional high stature of classical epics to emphasise the triviality of the incident. The abduction of Helen of Troy becomes here the theft of a lock of hair; the gods become minute sylphs; the description of Achilles ' shield becomes an excursus on one of Belinda's petticoats. He also uses the epic style of invocations, lamentations, exclamations and similes, and in some cases adds parody to imitation by following the framework of actual speeches in Homer's Iliad.

    Alexander Pope

    Although the poem is humorous at times, Pope keeps a sense that beauty is fragile, and emphasizes that the loss of a lock of hair touches Belinda deeply. The humour of the poem comes from the storm in a teacup being couched within the elaborate, formal verbal structure of an epic poem. It is a satire on contemporary society which showcases the lifestyle led by some people of that age. Pope arguably satirises it from within rather than looking down judgmentally on the characters.

    Belinda's legitimate rage is thus alleviated and tempered by her good humour, as directed by the character Clarissa. It will be in vain to deny that I have some regard for this piece, since I dedicate it to You. Yet you may bear me witness, it was intended only to divert a few young Ladies, who have good sense and good humour enough to laugh not only at their sex's little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was communicated with the air of a secret, it soon found its way into the world.

    An imperfect copy having been offered to a Bookseller, you had the good nature for my sake to consent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forced to, before I had executed half my design, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to complete it. These Machines I determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrucian doctrine of Spirits.

    I know how disagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a lady; but 'tis so much the concern of a poet to have his works understood and particularly by your sex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms. The Rosicrucians are the people I must bring you acquainted with.

    The best account I know of them is in a French book called Le Comte de Gabalis , which both in its title and size is so like a novel, that many of the fair sex have read it for one by mistake. According to these gentlemen, the four elements are inhabited by spirits , which they call Sylphs , Gnomes , Nymphs , and Salamanders.

    For they say, any mortals may enjoy the most intimate familiarities with these gentle spirits, upon a condition very easy to all true adepts , an inviolate preservation of Chastity. As to the following Cantos , all the passages of them are as fabulous as the Vision at the beginning or the Transformation at the end; except the loss of your Hair, which I always mention with reverence.

    The human persons are as fictitious as the airy ones, and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, resembles you in nothing but in Beauty. In the beginning of this mock-epic, Pope declares that a "dire offence" Canto 1 line 1 has been committed. A lord has assaulted a "gentle belle" line 8 , causing her to reject him. He then proceeds to tell the story of this offence. While Belinda is still asleep, her guardian Sylph Ariel forewarns her that "some dread event impends".

    Belinda then awakes and gets ready for the day with the help of her maid, Betty. The Sylphs, though unseen, also contribute: "These set the head, and those divide the hair, some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown" — Here Pope also describes Belinda's two locks of hair "which graceful hung behind". The Baron, one of Belinda's suitors, greatly admires these locks and conspires to steal one. Building an altar, he places on it "all the trophies of his former loves" line 40 , sets them on fire and fervently prays "soon to obtain, and long possess" line 44 the lock.

    Ariel, disturbed by the impending event although not knowing what it will be, summons many sylphs to her and instructs them to guard Belinda from anything that may befall her, whether she "forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade, Or lost her heart, or necklace, at a ball" line — So protected, Belinda arrives at Hampton Court and is invited to play a game of ombre.

    The conspiring Baron acquires a pair of scissors and tries to snip off one of her locks but is prevented by the watchful Sylphs. This happens three times, but in the end the Baron succeeds also cutting a Sylph in two although Pope reassures us, parodying a passage in Paradise Lost , that "airy substance soon unites again" [line ]. When Belinda discovers her lock is gone, she falls into a tantrum, while the Baron celebrates his victory. A gnome named Umbriel now journeys to the Cave of Spleen and from the Queen receives a bag of "sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues" canto 4 line 84 and a vial filled "with fainting fears, soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears" line 85—86 and brings them to Belinda.

    Finding her dejected in the arms of the woman Thalestris, Umbriel pours the contents over them both.