My story Belinda’s Revenge is a kind of sequel to the classic poem “The Rape of the Lock,” in which a gentleman steals a lady’s lock of hair, causing an epic/comedic chain of events.
One of my favorite parts of “The Rape of the Lock” was Belinda’s all-out brawl with her enemy and love interest, the baron. First of all, knowing that women were considered the weaker sex in those times, I was thrilled and surprised that a proper 17th century lady should resort to physical violence.
This was not something you usually encounter in classic literature!
Also, I’m sure you will agree there is nothing more hilarious than a bunch of perfectly coiffed 17th century courtiers dressed in corsets and hoop skirts fighting each other in a huge melee. This is how Alexander Pope describes it:
To Arms, to Arms! the fierce Virago cries,
And swift as Lightning to the Combate flies.
All side in Parties, and begin th’ Attack;
Fans clap, Silks russle, and tough Whalebones crack…
No common Weapons in their Hands are found,
Like Gods they fight, nor dread a mortal Wound.
I just love Alexander Pope’s sense of humor as he compares the ‘battle’ of the dressed up courtiers to Homer’s epic story of ancient Greek gods.
On top of mocking the customs of his time, Pope also intended the poem to be a parody of ancient Greek epics like the Odyssey and the Iliad. At one point, when Belinda demands her lock of hair back, her monologue refelcts Achilles’ speech over the body of his slain friend Patroclus.
In my story “Belinda’s Revenge” I definitely wanted to bring out the comedic side of the ‘battle’, but also to accentuate the sexual tension between Belinda and the baron, as in this excerpt:
Suddenly everyone was joining in the fray, some gentlemen and ladies siding with me, some with the baron. Fashionable mottled canes were used to snare and trip opponents. Snuff erupted into the air like volcanic ash. Biscuits flew. Coffee splashed. Some lady slapped me with her fan, disarranging my hair, but I pushed her out of the way with the full force of my fury. I made my way to the baron through the sea of satin and lace.
A new idea came to mind: I took out my snuffbox and blew the powder in the baron’s face. Victory! He sneezed uncontrollably, rendered vulnerable for a moment. I launched myself at him like a wild tigress, trying to wrest the lock from his hand. He fell to the ground, unprepared for such an assault, but he laughed, enjoying our tussle. To be honest, I found myself enjoying it too. I had never been so close to him, and when we were rolling on the ground in each other’s embrace in such fierce contention, it felt somehow pleasurable. The heat of the battle excited me, bringing a flush of colour back into my cheeks, and another sort of excitement which I had never felt before welled up in my bosom.
It’s also available…