The poem satirises a petty squabble by comparing it to the epic world of
the gods. It was based on an incident recounted by Pope's friend, John
Caryll. Arabella Fermor and her suitor, Lord Petre, were both from
aristocratic Catholic families at a period in England when Catholicism was
legally proscribed. Petre, lusting after Arabella, had cut off a lock of
her hair without permission, and the consequent argument had created a
breach between the two families. Pope wrote the poem at the request of
friends in an attempt to "comically merge the two." He utilised the
character Belinda to represent Arabella and introduced an entire system of
"sylphs," or guardian spirits of virgins, a parodic version of the gods and
goddesses of conventional epic. -- Wikipedia.

Alexander Pope—The Rape Of The Lock

  • 9780199116560