Pass or Fail? A Review of Annotations of The Rape of the Lock via Hypertextuality

The Rape of the Lock , written by Alexander Pope in 1717 is a poem that is lauded as one of the best of the eighteenth century and beyond. Many since the poem was written have tried to analyze this piece of literature and get their own take on what it could mean for the world.

The site I have provided is from the University of Massachusetts and they attempt to analyze through hypertext what The Rape of the Lock could mean. This site has much good information. The positives include: information about Pope himself , the story behind the poem , and many versions of the poem throughout time.

The negatives include: most of the citations are picture references not textual examples , while some actually do give textual reference and some help in understanding the element in question within the poem itself, and the references are sparse which can be seen in Canto III . A final negative of this site is the lack of description of mock-heroic elements as it does not explain the elements it merely points you to the point in the poem in which the element is present.

Good Qualities

The main page of the site includes links to everything that the site has to offer. The site contains background information about Pope, in which the annotations include pictures . This is a good quality because although the biography is brief, that is all that is necessary, as the main goal of the site is to analyze the poem itself.

Another plus of the site is the section on the story behind the poem . This section is also brief which in itself can be viewed as a negative. Again it can be noted that the purpose of the site is to explain the poem not to talk about the history of it. This section includes a link about the woman on whom the poem is written. Another positive about the site is the fact that three versions of the poem are available. This is a positive because it shows that this poem has a real staying power, and can even be copied into a foreign tongue.

Negative Qualities

The main negative of this site is the fact that most of the annotations are pictures ; not many of the annotations are textual in nature. The annotations do not really provide much information into the deciphering of the poem itself. It mainly acts as a visual aid.

Another negative is that the annotations throughout the site are very sparse. Although at some points they are helpful , most of the time they are as I have said already mainly pictures. Canto III is a good example of this; the Canto contains only three annotations, two of which are pictures (of the same scene ).

The final negative of the site is the lack of explanation of the mock-heroic elements . This is a negative because not all are familiar with the conventions of the mock-heroic epic . The explanation of these elements would be helpful because not everyone is familiar with these elements. Granted, some are knowledgeable of literary elements but not all are. It should be supposed that the audience for this website could just be navigating to this site out of curiosity. The reader would then have to type in a search for mock-heroic elements , which guides them away from their site and thus takes away from their site in the long run.

Why I think this site fails

I think that this site fails for a few basic reasons. First it fails because of the sparseness of annotations . The site itself is easy to navigate, but the quantity of information is less than plentiful. Secondly it fails because within the annotations it seems that those responsible for site design assumed that those coming across The Rape of the Lock were already well versed in the meaning and context of the poem to include too much annotated information. This site also fails because it doesn't describe the conventions of the mock-heroic epic, or the epic in general. All in all, the designer seemed to assume a lot about his/her readers.

Lessons Learned

When formulating my own hypertext project based on Sarah Fyge Egerton's, The Emulation , I was committing some of the fallacies that I saw in this project in The Rape of the Lock . I have learned from reviewing this site that content counts. I simply mean that annotations are a good thing, but with valuable information. I was also sparsely annotations throughout the poem, not really explaining anything. I guess sometimes, you need to see something that isn't the best example to get a better perspective on your own work.