The Rape of the Lock Summary

The Rape of the Lock Summary

Q. Write down the summary of The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope.

The Rape of the Lock Summary

Canto I

The poem starts with a hint at some mischief that’s about to unfold. Alexander Pope mentions a disagreement between two families due to a young baron’s actions and a lady named Belinda.

The story starts with Belinda sleeping, and Ariel, her protective spirit, sends her a dream. The dream is a warning of the events about to occur.

Belinda wakes up and starts her day. As she readies herself, the importance of her beauty rituals becomes evident. Every item she uses has a special significance, and her image is of utmost importance.

Ariel then gathers other sylphs and assigns them the task of guarding Belinda, especially her two locks of hair that hang gracefully on her neck.

Ariel tells the spirits about the dream he sent to Belinda, hinting at a potential danger. The sylphs are asked to be extra cautious because someone has wicked intentions for the day.


In the opening canto of “The Rape of the Lock,” Pope immediately establishes the mock-heroic tone. He takes a minor incident and elevates it to epic proportions, mimicking the style of classic epics.

Belinda’s morning routine parallels the arming of a hero, with her cosmetics and accessories transformed into holy relics. This satirical portrayal highlights the superficiality and vanity prevalent in society.

Ariel, the guardian sylph, introduces the supernatural beings, underlining the poem’s fantastical elements. These spirits, responsible for guarding female honor, further emphasize the triviality of society’s values.

Ariel’s warning about upcoming trouble adds suspense to the story, making readers eager to know what happens next.

This canto sets the scene by mixing humor, supernatural elements, and references to classic stories, making Belinda’s hair the main focus of the upcoming drama.

Canto II 

Canto II takes us to a fancy party by the Thames River. Belinda, the central figure, stands out, captivating everyone with her charm and beauty.

However, this canto goes beyond just detailing a social event. The card game that ensues is not just a game but a metaphorical battle reminiscent of intense war scenes from epic tales.

With his satirical brilliance, Pope makes a game of Ombre seem as significant as a heroic duel. The sylphs always watch closely and fly around Belinda to protect her from danger.

They remind us how society makes a big deal out of small things, like how a lock of hair can be so important. The Baron, who likes Belinda, gets ready to take the lock of her hair.

His actions, from building an altar to using sacred items, mock the rituals of a holy rite, further emphasizing the theme of superficiality.

Canto II looks closely at society’s rules and what people value. It shows how people care too much about looks, fun games, and hair. Pope uses this to make fun of and question these habits, showing how silly his society could be.


Pope cleverly takes elements from grand epic tales and uses them for a simple party scene. This “mock-heroic” style shows how over-the-top society can be about small things.

The Thames River party becomes a grand stage, like battlegrounds in old epics. Belinda’s entrance feels like a hero entering a battlefield.

The card game is turned into an intense showdown, making a casual game seem as important as legendary wars. Even the spirits, the sylphs, guarding Belinda remind us of protective gods in ancient tales.

However, they look after a lady’s hair instead of guarding a hero. Pope’s use of these epic elements in such a playful setting shows his wit.

He uses it to poke fun at society’s petty concerns and dramas, suggesting people make mountains out of molehills.

Canto III

Canto III takes a darker turn, centering on the Baron’s determined quest to obtain a lock of Belinda’s hair. His desire becomes an obsession.

Armed with scissors, he can commit a “heroic” act in this mock-epic setting. All around Belinda, the ever-watchful sylphs remain on guard. They sense the looming danger and are prepared to protect Belinda’s cherished locks.

However, as the event progresses, one sylph named Ariel discovers an impending act so horrid that none of them might be able to prevent it. Despite their vigilance, the Baron finds a moment and, with swift action, manages to cut off one of Belinda’s treasured curls.

The atmosphere shifts instantly. The playful and lively mood of the gathering turns to shock and disbelief. Belinda’s reaction is of utter despair. Her beautiful lock, a symbol of her vanity and pride, is now in the hands of the audacious Baron.

Through this canto, the trivialities of society get magnified. What is a simple act of cutting hair becomes an event of monumental importance. It underlines the mock-heroic nature of the poem and Pope’s satirical take on society’s values.


Canto III takes the drama up a notch. Belinda’s hair gets cut, making it feel like a huge betrayal. Pope is playing with us here. He’s taking a small act and making it as intense as scenes from big epic stories.

This “mock-heroic” style is Pope’s way of saying that society often overreacts to tiny issues. The sylphs, who try to protect the hair, add to the comedy. They act like heroic warriors, but they’re fighting over a lock of hair, not a kingdom.

The characters’ reactions, especially Belinda, show society’s superficiality and shallowness. By drawing a parallel between the theft of a lock of hair and grand betrayals in epics, Pope makes us laugh and think.

Through this canto, Pope cleverly critiques how people prioritize the wrong things and get caught up in shallow dramas. The Rape of the Lock is a funny and exaggerated story that mimics the style of old epic tales.

Canto IV

Canto IV sees things heat up after the Baron cuts off Belinda’s lock. Everyone at the party is in shock, and Belinda is distraught. She demands that the Baron give back her hair, but he refuses.

It makes the atmosphere tense. Clarissa, who had given the scissors to the Baron, stands up and speaks to calm things down. She tells everyone that good looks do not last forever and that they should focus on what is inside a person.

However, Belinda does not listen. She still wants her lock back. Things get wilder as tiny spirits, sylphs, and gnomes get involved in the fight.

They fly around trying to protect or attack, turning the event into a small-scale battlefield. Amid this chaos, the lock of hair mysteriously disappears.


In Canto IV, the drama around Belinda’s cut hair grows. Everyone’s reaction at the party shows how little things can become big problems.

Belinda’s strong reaction and the Baron’s refusal to return the lock highlight how people can be stubborn over small matters. Clarissa’s speech about inner beauty is Pope’s way of saying people should focus on what is truly important.

However, the fact that no one listens to her shows how society often ignores wise advice. The sylphs and gnomes getting involved in the fight are funny because it is like a big epic battle, but it is just over hair.

Pope uses the big fuss over a small event to show how people often overreact to minor things. With all its action and drama, this canto is a clever way of pointing out how humans sometimes overreact and miss the bigger picture.

Canto V 

Canto V starts with everyone still in shock from the hair-cutting incident. Belinda is furious and threatens the Baron with her sharp hairpin bodkin.

They both get ready to fight, but the spirits around them take sides and join in, making things even more chaotic. Umbriel, a gnome, throws a bag of sorrows and vexations on Belinda and her friends, making them even more upset.

Then, Thalestris gets angry at Sir Plume, her lover, for not standing up for Belinda. It adds another layer of confusion to the already messy situation.

However, in all this chaos, the lock of hair vanishes into thin air. Towards the end, Pope reveals that the lock has become a star. It rises and shines brightly in the sky.

Everyone stops fighting to look at it. This last part wraps up the story. The hair that caused so much trouble becomes something beautiful.

Pope shows that even minor problems or mistakes can have a silver lining or a positive side. Sometimes, things that seem wrong at first can turn out to be good in the end.


In Canto V, the drama around Belinda’s hair reaches its peak. Pope continues using the “mock-heroic” style, making the scene at the party feel like a big, epic showdown.

Instead of a war over kingdoms, it’s a fuss over hair. Clarissa stands out in this canto. She speaks up about real values, suggesting people should care more about what’s inside a person than their appearance.

But the unbelievable part is how everyone still remains focused on the hair, even after Clarissa’s wise words. This shows Pope’s view that society often ignores good advice and keeps chasing shallow things.

The hair turning into a star at the end is a twist. It’s both funny and deep. Even though the hair was a small thing, it became something big and beautiful.

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