«AMATORY CONVENTIONS, LUXURY TRADE, AND THE CULTURE OF EXCESS IN THE RAPE OF THE LOCK, ROXANA, AND GULLIVER’S TRAVELS by DAVID VINSON LILA GRAVES, ...»
The structure of my thesis has traced a chronological progression in the authors’ use of amatory tropes. It becomes readily apparent that the satiric tone of each successive work darkens; the reason this occurs is perhaps quite simple. Close to two decades separate the final publication of The Rape of the Lock (1717) and that of Gulliver’s Travels (1734); in that time finance capitalism and global luxury trade become larger, more powerful, and more pervasive institutions. Old-world values were diminishing; the ethos of commodification and consumption continued to expand and gain momentum.
Reality as such was constantly evolving—and what was once perceived as new and unstable was now more readily accepted, if not embraced by a majority. It would be wrong to suggest that Pope, Defoe, and Swift were exactly alike in their personal ideologies; certainly they were not. They did, however, share a collective indignation towards the kinds of personalities that continued to emerge in Britain; this indignation, which was explicitly expressed in The Rape of the Lock, Roxana, and Gulliver’s Travels, only grew stronger and more severe as the disease of commodification and consumption continued to spread. Each text is a document to a period in which finance capitalism and global luxury trade gradually but permanently altered the individual’s perception of both himself and his surrounding world.
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