What is Mock Epic Poetry?


Mock epic poetry is a type of poetry that satirises serious epic literature. It mocked not only this kind of poetry, but also epic subjects and themes in order to caustically address a slew of other major themes. Mock epic poetry deviates from the strictures of serious epic poetry. It takes liberties in order to convey its point and observations sardonically. Mock epic poetry developed during a period when serious epic poetry had become stale and stagnant.

The main features of Mock epic include:

a) A sarcastic (mocking) tone.
b) The heightened or elevated style and form of the serious epic poem.
c) Ridiculing a trivial or inconsequential subject.
d) The use of invocation (prayer and supplication elements), battles, and epic similies.
e) The use of “deus ex machina” or “ex-machina”.

Ex-machina is an ancient theatrical tradition in which a plotted (created) character is inserted into a play to miraculously save the hero. This convention was also used to solve a complicated narrative. As a result, mock epic poetry adopted this technique and included it into its style of writing in order to ridicule various issues and themes.

Mock poetry’s strength comes from the contrast between a trifling or inconsequential subject and the elevated style and form used to portray the trivial subject to the reader. This imparts a sense of humour or comic relief to mock epic poetry.

The majority of mock-epics begin with an invocation to the muse and include traditional epic elements such as set speeches, supernatural interventions, and descents into the underworld, in addition to endlessly detailed explanations of the protagonist’s activities. As a result, they provide ample opportunity for the author to demonstrate his or her brilliance and inventiveness.

Examples of Mock epic poetry include “The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander Pope as well as his poem The Dunciad (1743), and “Mack Flecknoe” by John Dryden.

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