the dedication poet explains that machinery is a term invented by the critics’
to signify the part, which deities, angels, or demons play in a poem. He goes
on to say that the machinery in his poem is based on the Rosicrucian doctrine of
spirits. According to this doctrine, the four elements are inhabited by sylphs,
nymphs, gnomes, and salamanders. The sylphs, whose habitation is in the air,
are supposed to be the best-conditioned creatures imaginable.
tells us in the poem that beautiful women return, after their death, to the
elements from which they were derived .Termagants, or violent tempered women
become salamanders or spirits of the fire. Women of gentle and pleasing
disposition pass into nymphs or water spirits. Prudish women become sylphs or spirits
of the air. Poet attributes to the mischievous influence of the gnomes many
unguarded follies of the female sex, which he holds up to ridicule.
first and perhaps the foremost occupation of the sylphs is the protection of
fair and chaste women who reject the male sex. They guard and save the chastity
of maiden who are on the point of yielding to their lovers. They save these
maidens from falling victims to the allurements of “treacherous friend”,
dashing young men whose music softens their minds, and dancing inflames their passions.
The gnomes or earth spirits fill the minds of proud maidens with foolish ideas,
which make them indulge in vain dreams of being married to lords and peers.
These gnomes teach young coquettes to ogle and pretend blushing at the sight of
fashionable young men who cause their hearts flutter. It is the sylphs, however,
who safely guide the maiden through all dangers. It is most amusing to note how
these sylphs do this. Whenever a maiden is about to yield to the seduction of a
particular young man , another who is more attractive and tempting appears on
the scene and the fashionable maidens at once transfers her favor to the new-
comer. This may be called levity or fecklessness in women but it is all contrived
by the sylphs. Some of the sylphs are in charge of national affairs and their
chief guards of the British Throne.
most of famous epics, machinery consists in supernatural beings like gods and
angels who play a vital role in the action of the poems thus showing that the
human world is dependent or even adequate and that supernatural powers have an
important bearing on this world. Pope thought that his Mock epic would be
incomplete without a parody of this established practice of epic poets in
introducing machinery. The machinery of is poem comprises the sylphs led by
Ariel. In lines of great poetic beauty, Pope describes wittily the Occupations
and tasks of the sylphs in general.
tells in the poem that to him and his followers has been assigned the humble
but pleasant duty of fashionable young women. The functions of these sylphs are
described humorously and including saving the powder from being blown off from
the cheeks of ladies, preventing scents from evaporating , preparing cosmetics,
teaching the ladies to blush and to put on enchanting airs, suggesting new ideas about dress.
sylphs show a delightful down scaling of the epic machines. They are light by
any heroic standards. They feel scared when a crisis approaches. Yet they are
in every detail Belinda’s intimate and councilors, they explain the various
complicated conventions and anxieties that make up Belinda’s day.
Mock epic may be described as satirical comedy of manners. The sylphs in this
poem are both a mirror and mock presentation of customs and conventions of the
community of the time. Belinda is told in a dream that sylphs guide and protect
through the dangers of life. Ariel’s account of the predicament of the tender
mind in a circle of rakes reduces his use of noble words such as innocent, honor,
purity to the level of muddle and a sham he is there , he tells her , to protect
her purity according to sylphlike theology. Defended by sylphs, the melting
maids are safe, for what we call honor is really no more than Providence. Reassuring
Belinda in this way , Ariel is in effect undermining her moral position, taking
away with one hand the credit he gives with the other .he explains how a woman‘s
defense is archived . a maid would fall to Florio if Damon were not at hand to divert her attention
, and if , an old folly were not expelled by a new . A maid shifts the moving toy-shop
of her heart with her varying vanities it is the sylphs that make her do that.
we called levity in women, says Ariel, is the effect of the same divine
guidance as determined their honor. The Concealed implication, that the two
qualities are roughly on a par, is very cruel. Nevertheless, Ariel merrily goes
on to warn Belinda in Epic style of the danger that threatens her. He concludes
with a plea for caution, and the orders of caution come from the lips that have
just encouraged flirtatiousness.
machines are present at every crucial situation in the play. The sylphs are present in the course of Belinda’s
journey by boat to Hampton court. They have been warned by Ariel to remain
alert and vigilant, fifty of them having been deputed to take charge of Belinda’s
petticoat. They attend on Belinda when she plays ombre. They hover around her when
she sips coffee. In addition, they withdraw only when Ariel sees an earthly
lover lurking at her heart. A gnome, called Umbriel, goes to the Cave of Spleen
and returns with a bag full of sighs, sobs, screams and outburst of anger, and
a phial filled with fainting fits, gentles sorrows, soft grieves. All of which
are released over Belinda and the Sylphs are present to witness the flight
Belinda’s lock of hair to the sky. In short, the machinery of the poem is
constantly kept in the reader’s view, to the very last.
poet has provided the myth of the sylphs in order to symbolize the polite conventions,
which govern the conduct of maidens. We miss the whole point if we regard the
sylphs as merely supernatural machinery. In general, we may say that Pope’s us of
this myth represents his attempt to do justice to the intricacies of the feminine
mind. His treatment of the sylphs allows him to develop his whole attitude towards
Belinda and the special world she graces.