is based on the historical Arabella Fermor, a member of Pope’s circle
of prominent Roman Catholics. Robert, Lord Petre (the Baron in the
poem) had precipitated a rift between their two families by snipping
off a lock of her hair.
This is the pseudonym for the historical Robert,
Lord Petre, the young gentleman in Pope’s social circle who offended
Arabella Fermor and her family by cutting off a lock of her hair.
In the poem’s version of events, Arabella is known as Belinda.
historical basis for the Caryl character is John Caryll, a friend
of Pope and of the two families that had become estranged over the
incident the poem relates. It was Caryll who suggested that Pope
encourage a reconciliation by writing a humorous poem.
muse who, according to classical convention, inspires poets to write
guardian sylph, who oversees an army of invisible protective deities
chief gnome, who travels to the Cave of Spleen and returns with
bundles of sighs and tears to aggravate Belinda’s vexation
sylph who is assigned to guard Belinda’s earrings
sylph who is assigned to guard Belinda’s watch
sylph who is assigned to guard Belinda’s “fav’rite Lock”
woman in attendance at the Hampton Court party. She lends the Baron
the pair of scissors with which he cuts Belinda’s hair, and later
delivers a moralizing lecture.
friend, named for the Queen of the Amazons and representing the
historical Gertrude Morley, a friend of Pope’s and the wife of Sir
George Browne (rendered as her “beau,” Sir Plume, in the poem).
She eggs Belinda on in her anger and demands that the lock be returned.
“beau,” who makes an ineffectual challenge to the Baron. He represents
the historical Sir George Browne, a member of Pope’s social circle.