What is Mock Epic?

A type of high burlesque, the mock epic is a lengthy poem written in the lofty and exalted style of the epic but that deals with an utterly trivial subject. Mock epics are not generally intended to mock the epic form or style, but rather to mock the subject by treating it with a dignity it does not deserve.

As numerous scholars and critics have pointed out, however, mock epics inevitably “cut both ways”; that is to say, when ordinary events are described in lofty terms using classical conventions, the reader is to some extent made aware of the amusing inappropriateness of heroic language and style as a means of representing life in the world as most human beings have experienced it.

Mock heroic is often used synonymously with mock epic, but the former term refers more broadly to any work (not just the epic) in which a trivial subject is satirized or ridiculed by discussing it in a lofty or grandiose manner. In this sense, the mock heroic is a style of writing that may be applied to any work burlesqued in this manner.

Alexander Pope’s mock-epic poem The Rape of the Lock which concerns the cutting and theft of a lock of a lady’s hair, begins with an invocation to a muse and later describes a card game as if it were a major military battle.

Published on 2 Sep. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

Alexander Pope: Biography

The Rape of the Lock: Analysis