This handout focuses on what your students, especially those college-bound or in college, need to know about Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock.”
Its fill-in-the-blanks format, largely text-based, has your students analyze the historical background of the poem, its themes, structure, mock-epic genre, and stylistic features.
The handout begins by stressing that “rape” in the title meant “theft” in Pope’s time, not that horrible crime in its modern sense, which does not occur in the poem.
However, an untoward, unwanted advance is made to a young woman in the poem, and she is fervently willing to fight for what has been taken (stolen) from her (a snipped curl of her hairdo), even though the young man insists his action was a mere “prank.”
How modern a situation Pope’s poem develops, long before there were discussions of sexual harassment and date rape!
The handout may be used as a two-period in-class activity, as a homework assignment, or ideas from it may be incorporated into your own materials or lectures on Pope’s poem.
An answer key is provided on a separate page at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.