The Rape of the Lock

Desire between Couple(t)s – a Counselling Intervention

in Volume 16 (2004): Issue 3 (Dec 2004)
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I want, here, to focus on this originary motive for the poem, and to suggest ways in which it informs the poet’s larger purpose – to create a social poem which negotiates tensions within the age-old battle of the sexes. The finished masterpiece, I shall argue, has relevance not only to contemporary debates about the ideology of gender3 but, in particular, to the rise of our now-ubiquitous ‘counselling’ culture. For such a discussion it is important that the ‘Offence’ occurred within a tightly knit, ‘marginal’ group, and that the poetic strategy develops a phantasmagoric ‘interpretation’ of the incident, as a proto-Freudian6 narrative in which attentive intelligence has transformed the strength of Desire into mock-heroic sweet reason.

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