"The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope is considered one of the greatest examples of a satirical poem of all time. Pope was a well-known poet, but nothing that he worked on before had the same biting social critiques as this poem.
Alexander Pope was famous during the late-17th and early-18th century, a time in which satirical poems were at their height. "The Rape of the Lock" documents a famous society incident that was made worse by the melodramatic antics of a socialite who lost a lock of her hair when a man in her circle snipped her tresses without permission. Pope was encouraged to write the poem by a friend who knew of the incident firsthand as families within his circle were involved.
"The Rape of the Lock" was initially intended to be seen only by a limited audience. The poem is clearly written for people with personal knowledge of those who Pope is attempting to caricature. The release of the poem beyond this small circle resulted in some of the parties who were the subject of the poem taking offense, so a letter was tacked onto the beginning of the poem as an introduction and an apology.