Rape of the lock Canto 5 lines 1-36 (Clarissa plays the role of the prude,…
Rape of the lock Canto 5 lines 1-36
Clarissa plays the role of the prude, although it is tempting to see her as the poem's moralist, she also did enable the Baron to cut the lock
'Belinda frowned, and Thalestris called her prude
she condemns herself by the very arguments she puts forward, 'And she who scorns a man must die a maid'
Ambiguous attitude is fitting with the way Clarissa does deliver a morally sound speech, only to be implicated within it herself; she inflames as she pacifies.
situational irony of the speech in the crescendo of the battle
She speaks virtue less for its own sake than for its practical advantages, says women must learn to use their power well - beauty is not a lasting source of power since it fades.
she is a social pragmatist, Pope is highlighting the various social stereotypes that women fall into in order to ascend their ranks- Clarissa seeks to attain admiration and status through propriety and reason, admonishing coquettish vanities.
To see her purely as a saint is to ignore her lack of tact, her hypocrisy, her ill concealed delight in triumph. Also cannot see her wholly as a prude, because that would be denying her sanity and her grasp of basic realities such as the transience of beauty.
Part of Pope's continuing double perspective
parody is a technique of presentation, and Pope is presenting various alternative of Clarissa's character
She is a paradox incarnate - discerning and sympathetic on the one hand, but also devious and self interested on the other.
she is also given reason, a quality that was usually gendered male, however, the other two women ignore it, therefore a further misogynistic characterisation of women's rationality is implemented.
she is always reminding of her superior wisdom
she takes on religious language and adopts the role of a false priest, 'Why/Why/Why' anaphora - sermon
Last two lines lace the entire speech with ambiguity of motive that is congruous with Clarissa’s first appearance in the poem. Is she trying to ensure her own reputation prevails whilst also damaging Belinda’s? Nuances of the final lines. She has to turn to Belinda and patronise her directly, ‘And trust me, Dear! Good Humour can prevail’ has never been more superior or rhetorically effective.
Belinda's life of privileged artifice cannot forever evade reality, 'frail beauty must decay' her power is shallow, and her mastery over men cannot outlast her transcient beauty. It is insinuated that she should accept the rape as a consequence of her lifestyle and vanity.
coquetry is ultimately self defeating
Belinda loses her lock and only then becomes a woman who is more aware of morality and the self defeating nature of coquetry, 'Charms strike the sight, but merits win the soul' juxtaposition of 'strike' and 'win' to 'win' is more fully and deservedly to gain, whereas beauty is characterised as a type of weapon.
reduces the responsibility of the Baron- blaming Belinda more.
Double bind - how are women supposed to transcend shallow beauty if this is the constraints that society forces upon them?
Clarissa paints the natural role or the noble role of women as that of solely housekeeping and private sphere duties, 'Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce' heroic sacrifice that makes women's lives meaningful when beauty cannot last.