Monday, November 7, 2016

For Wednesday: Pope, “To a Lady” (pp.138-147)

For Wednesday: Pope, “To a Lady” (pp.138-147)

Synopsis: Basically, this is a poem that responds to the comment made by a “lady” of Pope’s acquaintance, who said “Most women have no characters at all” (line 2). He is responding to her comment in a poem which examines many different types of women, each one identified by a mythological character that is an allegory for her demeanor (saintly, gossipy, selfish, witty, etc.). This also relates to painting, since many noblewomen were painted in mythological clothing and poses—this woman as Diana, this one as Helen, etc. Pages 138 through 144 satirize each type of woman, showing her faults and shortcomings much as she did with Belinda in The Rape of the Lock. On page 144, however, the poem shifts: he now explains how a woman should be “painted” in life, meaning, how she should act and present herself. Yet women are tricky creatures, who are much given to variety and contradiction, he claims. So he discusses the ideal woman—the “Lady” he is writing to—who combines the best qualities of men and women.

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: Examine ONE of the character types Pope explores in the first pages of the poem. How does he satirize her character? What is her chief flaw in his eyes? Why should women avoid this type of woman?

Q2: On page 144, he writes that “artists! who can paint or write/To draw the naked is your true delight.” Pope is not recommending that artists draw women without clothing, so what does he mean here? How should artists paint women “naked” instead of painting them in one of the various character types?

Q3: Pope also claims that “A woman’s seen in private life alone...Bred to disguise, in public ‘tis you hide” (144). What does seeing a woman in private show us that seeing her in public disguises? How does this highlight the chief vice of women, a vice that relates to Belinda and The Rape of the Lock?

Q4: On page 146, Pope offers advice for the ideal woman, who “ne’er answers till a husband cools,/Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules.” Is this advice contrary to what a Wife of Bath would say, or is it the same advice, translated into the 18th century? Is he admonishing women to be quiet and submissive, or is he teaching them how to have more discreet and intelligent command?


  1. 2. As previously said in the question, Pope doesn’t want women to be portrayed as naked in the sense of without clothing. Instead, Pope wants women to be exposed for the beautiful souls they are behind the painted faces of makeup and societies outlook. He understands that some women do indeed have beauty that is often left unexplored by the artist of his day. It is because in the eyes of this society a calm woman is a boring one or that women were not considered as valuable as men at that time. Whatever the actual reason is for this poor viewpoint, Pope sees that it needs to be something that changes.

    3. While I don’t understand this question greatly, to the best of my knowledge it is talking about the idea that individuals in society see two sides of women. Why is this? As previously discussed in class, women are taught at an early age to protect themselves and be “calloused” in the sense of showing their true feelings. Sure, women at that time would often fake being overwhelmed at times or pass out because their girdles were on too tight; however, to show the real feelings was something out of the ordinary. This in turn relates to the Rape of the Lock, because when Ariel realizes that Belinda has feelings for the Baron, he stops protecting her. Why? Because it was frowned upon in that society.

  2. 2) Pope has been more about the characteristics about woman than her outward appearance. As we have seen from the Rape of the Lock. I think that Pope would rather the artists paint raw pictures and make the woman as they truly are instead of painting them naked for lust and for the enjoyment of men.

    3)I think that seeing a woman in a private life would be more honest and revealing. Women typically want to pretend like they have everything together and that they are perfect. They portray to be a certain way when they are in the public eye. If we saw these woman in private life alone I think they would be more inclined to be themselves and not have to put on a facade.

  3. 1. One ridiculous character is Papillia who is satirized by being portrayed as a woman hinting at her desire to own a park, but upon receiving the park after arduous landscaping declares, “Oh, odious, odious trees!” Her flaw is that she quietly hints – demands – for what she desires from her more-than-willing husband only to change her mind and leave the man grasping for a stronghold in her shifting quakes of want. Women should avoid this type of woman because she is a marionettist who, with tears and wishful sighs, makes her husband dance to about to satisfy her every whim.

    2. Pope suggests that artists depict their female subjects in such a way that exposes their true selves. Artists should paint a woman by stripping her of her mask and displaying her true identity. A real woman is one who dresses simply, not as some mystic goddess. She is honest and genuine, not making her life a production. A woman who is real is what ought to be depicted by artists, because the painted woman is what other women aspire to be. Make the painted woman real – make the actresses real.

  4. Dana Welch

    Q2 I believe that Pope means to paint women in the way they truly are. They are strong and individual and should be shown this way.

    Q4 I think that Pope is presenting the fact that women should be silent but intelligent. I think women are more cunning and so does the wife of bath, and I think this is just shedding a new light on her story.

  5. Q#1
    We can look at Narcissa! She is my favorite just because that's how a lot women back then, and now, portray themselves. Narcissa is whoever you want her to be. If she needs to be all reserved and ready to pray or talk about the good deeds of a Christian, then she will be. If she needs to throw that away and act like she doesn't have a care in the world about Christians, then she will do it. He says that women are trained to act a certain way to get the man or to get the possession of something nice. They will do anything. Women should avoid other women like this because it is not a stable person. She will go with whatever is being done, said, or acted on. Women like Narcissa will do anything to get other people to notice her. Heck, she even once paid a Tradesman!

    We observed a painting in class. At first glance I thought "Oh dear. Look away." It was hard to stare at it. That shows the difference in our time period and the 19th century. I think Pope is saying that women in particular will do anything, like getting painted naked, to fit in. To show themselves as what other people want them to see. We talked about a possibility that painting women naked would be to kind of show their true selves. They didn't just want to dress up in fictional characters, they wanted to go a step deeper. Women want to be painted with no clothes on! It was all about the popularity and portrayal of women that ruled instead of "personality" or "brains".

  6. Q2- I think that the term "naked" is referring to the subject's personality and character. The goal of a writer should be able to capture the hidden parts of their subject. The subject needs to be "stripped" of their disguises and personas until they are left at their most vulnerable. Many reporters try to strip the layers of emotions off of their interviewees. This is the same process that Pope is insinuating.
    Q3- This question can be, in a way, related to question 2. Home is where people feel the most comfortable, and thus, are the most likely to let their "persona" guard down. A man may wear an immaculate suit and tie to his fancy wallstreet job every day, but when he returns to the safety of his home, he may wear nothing but comfortable sweatpants while slouched on the couch. Home is where people can relax, and not worry about how other people see them. Belinda freaks out about her lock because it will change how she is seen in public, but in reality, it has no effect on her home life.

  7. Q3: Seeing someone in their private lives gives you a more intimate insight into who they really are. It’s like when you catch someone singing, dancing, and acting weird in their room when they think no one is watching. In public we are more likely to present either a watered-down version of ourselves or a complete façade, so that we can reduce the amount of judgement we may receive. The vice of women is that they are taught to act in a certain way because it makes them more favorable to suitors and society. Also, sometimes it makes women have to resort to using this to their advantage to get what they want, but they end up reducing themselves to a character and in turn being truly unhappy.

    Q4: I think this is exceptionally similar to what the Wife of Bath would say and even matches up with her actions, like when she tricked her husband to believe that he hurt her to get her rights to her wealth and property back. But I feel as if she were to read Pope’s “To a Lady” she would probably feel conflicted, because she has to bear this persona as a semi-weak wife to get what she wants from her husbands, but she would ultimately agree with Pope for the ideals and hope that is brings. She would probably either fall in love with him for his ideas or wish her husband and the other men in her life would share these beliefs.

  8. 1). ‘Silia’ is satirized by giving us a description of a woman that everyone trusts and can confide in and then showing us that Silia randomly goes on temper tantrums. There is no calming her because she “does not drink”. Her chief flaw would of course be the fact that she is easy to anger (not only that, but pimples arise after she does get angry) and therefore, many women should not be around her!
    2). Pope means here that woman should be captured as they truly are – angry, happy, mean, sad, etc. They should not be portrayed as the women walking around town but the woman that are at home and in private, who they are when they think society is not aware.