Short summary - The Rape of the Lock - Alexander Pope

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Rape of the Lock
Alexander Pope

The work is preceded by the author's introduction, which is a dedication to a certain Arabella Fermor. Pope warns Arabella not to be too serious about his creation, explaining that it pursues "the only goal: to entertain the few young ladies", endowed with sufficient common sense and sense of humor. The author warns that everything is incredible in his poem, except for the only real fact - «the loss of your curl» - and the image of the main character is not compared to Arabella Fermor with anything «other than beauty». I know how clever words are inappropriate in the presence of a lady, the author writes further, but it is so characteristic of the poet to strive for understanding. Therefore, he precedes the text with a few more explanations. Four elements, in the space of which the action of the poem unfolds, is inhabited by spirits: sylphs, gnomes, nymphs and salamanders. Gnomes - or demons of the earth - are insidious creatures and eager for leprosy, but the inhabitants of the air sylphs are gentle and benevolent creatures. "According to the Rosicrucians, all mortals can enjoy intimate intimacy with these most tender spirits, as long as the condition is met ... adherence to unshakable chastity."


Thus, having gracefully outlined the rules of the literary game, Pope introduces the reader to the multi-layered fantasy world of his poem, where an amusing everyday incident - an ardent admirer at a high-society routine cut off a lock of hair from an impregnable beauty - takes on a universal scale.

The poem consists of five songs. In the first song, the leader of the Sylphs Ariel guards the dream of the beautiful Belinda. In a dream, he whispers to her words about how sacred her integrity is, which gives the right to the constant protection of good spirits. After all, secular life is full of temptations, to which the evil gnomes incline the damsels. «So the gnomes of enchantresses are accustomed to look coquettishly from under their eyelashes, to blush, to be embarrassed for show, to hang oneself with a game of hearts and eyes.» At the end of his speech, Ariel warned Belinda in alarm that this day would be marked by trouble for her and she should be doubly vigilant and beware of her sworn enemy - Men.


Belinda is awakening. She runs her eye through another love message. Then he looks in the mirror and begins to worship in front of him, as in front of the altar, giving his beauty an even more dazzling brilliance. Delicate sylphs are invisibly present in this exciting morning toilet routine.

The second song begins with the hymn of Belinda's blooming beauty, which surpasses even the radiance of a flaring summer day with its brilliance. The beauty goes for a walk along the Thames, capturing the eyes of all those who meet. Everything in it is perfection itself, but the crown of delight are two dark curls adorning the marble of the neck. A fan of Belinda, the baron was inflamed with the desire to take away precisely these luxurious locks - like a love trophy. That morning at dawn, he burned the gloves and garters of his former lovers, and he asked the sky for this sacrificial bonfire about only one treasure - Belinda's lock of hair.

Faithful Ariel, sensing danger, gathered all the army of good spirits subject to him and called on them to protect and protect the beauty. It reminds the sylphs, sylphs, elves and fairies of how important and responsible their work is and how many dangers lurk every moment. «Will shame come to innocence, will porcelain crack, will honor suffer, or brocade, suddenly will the nymph lose her bracelet or heart at the ball ...» Ariel entrusts every spirit with the care of one of Belinda’s toilet articles - earrings, fans, watches, curls. He himself undertakes to monitor the doggie of a beautiful woman named Shock. Fifty sylphs are assigned to the skirt - this «silver frontier" of purity. At the end of the speech, Ariel threatens that the spirit, caught in negligence, will be imprisoned in a bottle and pierced with pins.

The third song culminates - Belinda loses the coveted curl. This happens in the palace, where the courtiers swarm around Queen Anne, condescendingly listening to advice and tasting tea. Belinda is her own in this worldly circle. Here she sits down at the ombre table and masterfully beats two partners, one of whom is the baron in love with her. After that, the loser nobleman yearns for revenge. During a coffee ritual, when Belinda bends over a porcelain cup, the baron sneaks up to her - and ... No, he does not immediately succeed in fulfilling his blasphemous plan. Vigilant elves three times, pulling on the earrings, make Belinda look around, but for the fourth time they miss a moment. Loyal Ariel is also lost - «he looked in the heart of the nymph through the bouquet, suddenly a secret was revealed in his heart; the sylph saw an object of earthly love and despaired before this mysterious guilt, taken by surprise, and disappeared with a deep sigh ... »So, this was the moment when Ariel left Belinda, guarded by him, having seen love in her soul (not for that Baron?), - became fatal. "Silence clasped silently by the scissors, and the curl separated forever." The Baron is in triumph, Belinda is in frustration and anger. This central song of the poem is the peak, the intensity of the tense confrontation: as if continuing the just finished ombre party, where the suits went to war against each other, and kings, aces, ladies and other cards conducted complex hidden maneuvers - human passions boil under the vaults of the palace. Belinda and the Baron now designate two hostile and irreconcilable poles - male and female. it was this moment - when Ariel left Belinda, guarded by him, having seen love in her soul (is it not for that very baron?), - became fatal. "Silence clasped silently by the scissors, and the curl separated forever." The Baron is in triumph, Belinda is in frustration and anger. This central song of the poem is the peak, the intensity of the tense confrontation: as if continuing the just finished ombre party, where the suits went to war against each other, and kings, aces, ladies and other cards conducted complex hidden maneuvers - human passions boil under the vaults of the palace. Belinda and the Baron now designate two hostile and irreconcilable poles - male and female. it was this moment - when Ariel left Belinda, guarded by him, having seen love in her soul (not to that very baron?), - became fatal. "Silence clasped silently by the scissors, and the curl separated forever." The Baron is in triumph, Belinda is in frustration and anger. This central song of the poem is the peak, the intensity of the tense confrontation: as if continuing the just finished ombre party, where the suits went to war against each other, and kings, aces, ladies and other cards carried out complex hidden maneuvers - human passions boil under the vaults of the palace. Belinda and the Baron now designate two hostile and irreconcilable poles - male and female. Belinda - annoyance and anger. This central song of the poem is the peak, the intensity of the tense confrontation: as if continuing the just finished ombre party, where the suits went to war against each other, and kings, aces, ladies and other cards conducted complex hidden maneuvers - human passions boil under the vaults of the palace. Belinda and the Baron now designate two hostile and irreconcilable poles - male and female. Belinda - annoyance and anger. This central song of the poem is the peak, the intensity of the tense confrontation: as if continuing the just finished ombre party, where the suits went to war against each other, and kings, aces, ladies and other cards carried out complex hidden maneuvers - human passions boil under the vaults of the palace. Belinda and the Baron now designate two hostile and irreconcilable poles - male and female.

In the fourth song, evil spirits come into action, deciding to seize the moment. Belinda’s grief for the stolen lock is so deep and great that the evil gnome Umbriel has a hope: to infect her with despondency the whole world. This gloomy spirit goes - "on sooty wings" - to the underworlds, where the disgusting Blues are hiding in a cave. At her head no less gloomy Migraine huddles. Having greeted the mistress and politely reminding her of her merits («you own every woman, inspiring sometimes vagaries, then dreams; you arouse interest in women in medicine, then in writing plays; , the dwarf urged the mistress of the cave to sow mortal longing in Belinda’s soul - «then half the world will be hit by the spleen»!

The spleen takes out a bag of sobs and lamentations, as well as a bottle of sorrows, sorrows and tears. The dwarf joyfully takes it with him to immediately spread it among people. As a result, Belinda is seized with more and more despair. The loss of a tress entails a chain of inconsolable experiences and bitter unanswered questions. In fact, judge, «why tongs, hair clips, scallops? Why should you keep your hair in captivity, hit it with red-hot iron? .. Why do we need papillots, finally? .. » This misanthropy ends with a recognition of indifference to the fate of the entire universe - from pet dogs to people. Attempts to return the curl back to nothing lead to nothing. The baron admires the trophy, caresses him, brags to him in society and intends to forever keep the prey. «My enemy is cruel! - Belinda exclaims in hearts at his address, - it would be better at that moment you would cut my other hair! »

In the last, fifth part of the poem, heated passions lead to an open war of the sexes. In vain some sober voices are trying to appeal to the female mind, reasonably assuring that the loss of a tress is not the end of the world, and that «it is necessary to remember in the midst of fuss that virtue is above beauty.» It is also said that curls turn gray sooner or later, and in general beauty is not eternal, and that it is dangerous to despise men, since it is possible in this case to die a damsel. Finally, one must never lose heart. However, the insulted pride of Belinda and her confidants declares such reasons as hypocrisy. The ladies shout: «To arms!» And now the battle breaks out, the cries of heroes and heroines are heard and the whalebone of corsets is cracking. The evil gnome Umbriel, sitting on the candelabrum, "looked at the battle with pleasure."


Belinda attacked the baron, but he was not afraid of it. «He was attracted by a single passion - in her arms embraced by the death of a brave mouth ...» He would rather have burned alive in a cupid fire. In a fiery brawl, the truth was again revealed that men and women are necessary for each other and created for each other. And it is better for them to listen to the voice of their own feelings than to the whisper of spirits. Well, what about the curl? alas, in the meantime, he disappeared, disappeared, unnoticed by all, obviously, at the behest of heaven, who decided that mere mortals were unworthy of owning this treasure. In all likelihood, the author of the poem is convinced, the curl reached the lunar sphere, where there is a cluster of lost objects, a collection of broken vows, etc. The lock was soared to be the subject of worship and chanting of the poet. He is a stud star and will shine and send his light to the earth.

Let the beauty’s human life be limited and fleeting and all her charms and curls are destined to fall to dust — this one, the only stolen curl will always remain intact.

"He is glorified by the Muse, and Belinda is inscribed in the starlight."