Alexander Pope’s satirical “The Rape of the Lock” embodies the structure and style of a mock-heroic. This Horation satire is purposely written to invoke laughter and ridicule particular aspects of society. The hero-comical poem contains the conventional elements of heroic poetry, yet Pope implements humor and exaggeration within this literary work. Pope writes, “What dire offense from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things.” Lines one and two of Canto I of the poem reveal the theme of the poem. The lines indicate the amplification of events that occur in the poem. The poet is brilliant in his use of the components involved in heroic poetry. However, Pope employs unconventional characters and objects in place of the predictable figures seen in poetry of heroism. Sylphs are the unlikely supernatural beings presented in the “The Rape of the Lock”. Pope utilizes cosmetics as a type of epic catalogue. The improbable epic battle is fought with a game of cards, not physically on a gruesome battlefield. Furthermore, the tragedy of Belinda involves losing a lock of her hair, far from an extravagant death found in heroic poetry. Alexander Pope’s exceptional use of unique language and characters increase the effectiveness of “The Rape of the Lock” as a mock-heroic.
A heroic poem consists of beings that transcend those living on earth. The typical supernatural beings are grand in physique and possess strength uncommon to man. Beowulf and Grendel are perfect manifestations of the supernatural in heroic poetry. “The Rape of Lock” portrays creatures that stray from the familiar God-like beings. Sylphs were miniature in stature and unseen to the naked eye. The tiny creatures represent the complete opposite of the exterior appearance of a usual supernatural being. Their purpose is to guard and lead women who have not yet fallen in love, ” Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some Sylph embraced: For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Assume what sexes and shape they please.