In most of the famous epics (the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aenied and Paradise Lost “machinery” consists in supernatural being like gods and angles who play a vital role in the actions f the poems thus showing that human world in not independent or even adequate and that super natural powers have an important bearings on this world. Pope thought that his mock epic would be incomplete without the parody of this established practice of epic poets in introducing machinery.
Pope’s chief difficulty was that he could neither have adopted, either the machinery of Greek gods and goddesses, or that of Christian theology in his mock-epic poem since they were inherently serious and solemn. So he introduces a supernatural machinery that is apt and whose characteristics match the elements of the poem. So the sylphs show a delightful down-scaling of the epic machines as per requirement of the form (mock-heroic) and the subject of Pope’s poem. They are “light” by any heroic standards.
They feel scared when a crisis approaches. Giving the whole account a mock heroic twist, Pope makes Ariel say that it s only spirits of vainglorious, fashionable, flirtatious, quarrelsome, querulous, ostentatious women that became the legitimate denizens of the air. The Rape of the Lock may be described as a satirical comedy of manners. The sylphs in this poem are both a mirror and a mock-apotheosis of customs and conventions of the society of the time. They improve the literary mockery, and they also improve the human mockery.
They machinery of sylphs is the principal symbol of the triviality of Belinda’s world. “The light of militia of the lower sky “is a travesty of both Homeric deities and Miltonic guardian angels. Like these originals they have an ambiguous status: they exist within and without characters. The sylphs who protect Belinda are also her acceptance of rules of social convention, which presume that a coquette’s life is a pure game. Belinda is told in a dream that sylphs guide and protect her through the dangers of life.
Ariel’s accounts of the predicament of the ‘”tender mind” in a circle of rakes reduces use of noble words such as “innocent”, “honors” and “purity” to the level of muddle and sham . He is there, he tells her to protect her purity according to sylphic theology . defended by sylphs, the “melting maids” are safe, for what we call “honour” is really no more than providence. Reassuring Belinda in this way, Ariel is in effect undermining her moral position, taking away with one hand credit he gives with the other. He explains how a women’s defense is achieved.
A maid would fall to Florio if demon were not at hand to divert her attention, and if, an old folly was not expelled b the new. So these sylphs have important parts to play in the plot and actions of the poem. They make things happens. They channelize or regulate the action of women in a particular direction that culminates at the final and decisive battle in the poem. The use of this machinery serves several of other purposes in the poem. The machinery imparts qualities of splendor and wonder to the actors and the action in the story. Like Homer’s gods, Pope’s Sylphs move in and out of the lower world.
So it increases dramatic suspense, and therefore story’s depth, since they for know and warn of the central disaster. They help to universalize the semi-humorously the whole action as they are binding symbolism of the little drama. They reflect the implied belief that humanity and its sensible world do not exhaust the total of a comprehensive statement. They are also spirits of the dead, acting as guardian angels to the living. Thus Pope has provided the myth of the sylphs in order to symbolize the polite convention which govern the conduct of maidens .
We miss whole point if we regard the sylphs as merely supernatural machinery . In general, we may stay that pope’s use of this myth represent this attempt o do justice to the intricacies of the feminine mind . his treatment of sylphs allows his to develop his whole attitude toward Belinda and the special world which she graces. The machinery of sylphs in this poem is vastly superior to the allegorical personages of Boileau and Garth in their respective mock-epic, LeLutrin and The Dispensary.
The machinery is not superior not only on account of its novelty, but the oblique satire which result from it . The business and petty concern of fine lady receive an air of importance from the notion of their being looked after by celestial agents. The mock-epic effect is heightened thereby. The myth of the sylphs is of utmost importance to Pope: it allows him to show his awareness of absurdities of a point of view which, nevertheless, is charming, delightful, and filled with real poetry.
Above-mentioned arguments and supported clearly manifest that Pope’s use of sylphs as supernatural machinery is highly justified and without it The Rape of the Lock can be labeled as a mock-heroic poem. Such account of the supernatural order or machinery serves Pope’s purpose of writing the mock-epic exceedingly well, and he skillfully assimilated whole scheme into the poetry. The question whether Pope should have elaborated his first version of the poem without the addition of this supernatural material is no longer important. Dr. Johnson has commended Pope for having used the machinery which gives evidence of the Pope’s brilliant wit.