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Alexander Pope

Home | Historical Background- Timeline | Interesting Information | Study Questions | Author Biography | The Major Works of Alexander Pope | Influences | Imagery Analysis | Great LInks | The Rape of the Lock | Picture Gallery | Themes | Theme Analysis | Style | Literary Movement | Page Title | Works Cited

Pope began writing poetry early in his life. He learned Latin and Greek and translated many classical works like Homer's "Odyssey." The classical works provided him with the poetic genres he used during his life. Some of these genres were the epic, the georgic, the elegy, and the heroic epistle. He employed, and at times parodied, these techniques, for example his famous poem "The Rape of the Lock" written in mock-heroic. Pope knew the works of Shakespeare and Milton, and the influence of these writers can be seen in his work. He makes extensive use of the couplet, two lines of verse that rhyme. He uses parallelism since he closes the verses with nouns, "Law" and "flaw," "brocade" and "Masquerade" (Rape of the Lock). These concrete words create strong rhymes and potent images. This couplet is a prime example of the parallelism used:
"when kind occasion prompts their warm desires,
when music softens, and when dancing fires" (Rape of the Lock)
The rhetorical organization of the poems is also peculiar and efficient in transmitting the theme. For example:
"Whether the Nymph shall break Diana's Law,
Or some frail China Jar receive a flaw,
or stain her honour, or her new brocade,
forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade,
or lose her heart, or necklace at a ball..."
(Rape of the Lock)
In this lines, Pope has juxtaposed solemn issues like "honour" and "prayers" and trivial ones like "brocade" and "masquerade." This juxtaposition serves to expose his theme about society's inability to distinguish solemnity from triviality.