Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

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The Rape of the Lock

is, by common consent, the finest example of mock epic poetry in the English language. It was initially written as an occasional poem concerning a feud between two land-owning, Catholic families, the Petres and the Fermors. The young Lord Petre had cut a lock of hair from the head of Arabella Fermor, a fashionable young society lady, and both she and her family had taken offence. Pope had been told of the incident by his Catholic friend, John Caryll, who asked if he could write a poem to make a jest of the division between the two families and “laugh them together again.”

The Rape of the Locke

(with an 'e'), in 2 Cantos (334 lines), written in less than a fortnight in the autumn of 1711, and published on 20 May 1712, was the result.

The poem went through three

2583 words

Citation: Gordon, Ian. "The Rape of the Lock". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 March 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7525, accessed 21 May 2024.]

7525 The Rape of the Lock 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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