Character Analysis of Belinda in The Rape of the Lock


Belinda portrays the time of aristocratic and fashionable ladies. She is equally beautiful and charming. Early in the poem, the author compares her with the sun (also at the beginning of Canto II). It is as though the sun’s brightness wanes at the sight of her radiant beauty.  

The poet invests her almost with divine beauty. Besides this admiration, she has many denunciating qualities in her character.

Except for being a beauty, the faults of Belinda are many. The poet is open about her sensual nature. She represents the aristocratic ladies who suffer from all the vanities, laziness, follies, and moral scruple of her time. 

Society treats Belinda as an object of mockery, ridicule, and even condemnation because of her shallowness, superficiality, and lack of any intellectual interest or moral elevation in her life. 

A Typical Day in Belinda’s Life

Belinda sleeps till twelve in the day. Her dog licks her, and she gets up every day from her all-prophesied purity. Belinda is proud to be secretly in love with the Baron. Just after opening her eyes, her first thought is about a love letter that has been addressed to her. 

Next, she gets ready for her toilet and her day begins at noon. The toilet table is like a church to her. She takes the help of “cosmetic power,” and her maid-servant Betty assists her in her sacred ceremony of the toilet. These show her superficial nature and lack of moral awareness.

Belinda Lacks Intellectual And Spiritual Interests

Her rendezvous is the Hampton Court, where the fashionable girls and men of upper-class society gather. However, Belinda is in the limelight, attracts attention and love. Gossip, cards, and coffee drinking are what Belinda is busy with mainly in a day. She lacks interest in any intellectual activity. 

Spiritual shallowness and incapacity for moral awareness are remarkable in her. She has transformed all spiritual exercise and emblems into a coquette. She used her self-display and self-adoration as ornaments.

After cutting off her lock, the lamentation of Belinda again brings out the shallowness and superficiality of her mind. She says she would not have been so hurt after her hair if someone had stolen her golden curl.

Alexander Pope’s Mixed Attributions of Belinda

Alexander Pope attributes divinity to Belinda’s character. She is an incarnation of the beauty goddesses and brighter than the sun. She eclipses the sun by bringing joy and gaiety into the world of fashion. As the poet says-

“Belinda smiled, and all the world was gay

Hurt to cause pain to, to wound (mentally), to damage.”

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Pope’s attribution of Belinda is mixed. He admires her but does not spare to criticize her. Both Pope’s attitude and Belinda’s situation are intimately paradoxical. Although Pope has ridiculed Belinda’s manners, he does not consider her an evil woman.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Belinda has several “falls.” This falls consist in her manner, of life. However, Pope presents her in an agreeable form and makes us forget her frivolities of morality. 

However, the author lays the actual aspiration on the very society of which she is the product. She is the maiden through whom Pope expresses his dislike of the society given to mirth and merriment at any cost.

A H M Ohidujjaman

I'm the Founder of Hamandista Academy. I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I studied English Literature and ELT. Now, I'm working as a Lecturer of English at a Dhaka-based Private University.

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