In the The Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy he makes out a case for double-legged imitation. Dryden developed a very ingenious plan of writing his essay. This French drama having single plot lacks this vividness. I shall return therefore to that quotation of Seneca, and answer, not to what he writes, but to what he means. Crites argues in favor of the ancients:

Even though blank verse lines are no more spontaneous than are rhymed lines, they are still to be preferred because they are “nearest nature”: They lived afterwards probably in good correspondence together; at least, it appears from an original letter of our author now before me, that towards the close of his life they were on friendly terms. Samuel Johnson quotes as The continuity of Scenes is observed more than in any of our Plays, excepting his own Fox and Alchemist. The intonation of English is not, like the intonation of French, such that rhyme is an absolute necessity to distinguish verse from prose ; and where this necessity does not exist, rhyme must always appear to an intelligent critic a more or less impertinent intrusion in dramatic poetry. Limberham; or, the Kind Keeper Oedipus Amphitryon

Thus, in Bartholomew Fair he gives you the Pictures of Numps and Cokes, and in this those of Daw, Lafoole, Morose, and the Collegiate Ladies; all which you hear described before you see them. Moreover, he puts forward his view that Rhyme is different from Blank Verse.

But in his very first plays, esday or tragic or historic, we can see the collision and conflict of the two influences ; his evil angel, rhyme, yielding step by step and note by note to the strong advance of that better genius who came to lead him into the loftier path of Marlow. However, instead of telling about the virtues of moderns, he criticises the faults of Classical playwrights. Eugenius says that “the moderns have profited by the rules of the ancients” but moderns have “excelled them.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden | Poetry Foundation

Ward, whose History of English Dramatic Literature has been constantly at my elbow, sparknotez who has moreover rendered to his late friend and kinsman the service of piety involved in his allowing me to consult him upon special points. Indeed, the main thing which had for a time converted Dryden and others to the use of the couplet in drama was a curious notion that blank verse was too easy for long and dignified compositions.

dryden essay dramatic poesy sparknotes

Crites opposes rhyme in plays and argues that though the moderns excel in sciences, the ancient age was the true age of poetry. One of the lampoons of the time gives a more invidious turn to this suppression, and insinuates that he was compelled to retract. They are inferior to the English Moderns in all these respects.


And the changes of fortunes to which it. But English drama has decayed and declined since then.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by John Dryden

Thus, he presents the comparative merits and demerits of each in a clearer way. Our Poets present you the Play and the farce together; and our Stages still retain somewhat of the Original civility of the Red-Bull; Atque ursum et pugiles media inter carmina poscunt [they ask for a bear or boxers in the middle of plays.

I answer, some parts of the action are more fit to be represented, some to be related. What the Philosophers say of motion, that when it is once begun it continues of it self, and will do so to Eternity without some stop put to it, is clearly true on this occasion; the soul being already moved with the Characters and Fortunes of those imaginary persons, continues going of its own accord, and we are no more weary to hear what becomes of them when they are not on the Stage, then we are to listen to the news of an absent Mistress.

Neander says that Aristotle demands a verbally artful “lively” imitation of nature, while Crites thinks that dramatic imitation ceases to be “just” when it departs from ordinary speech—i. I beg pardon for entertaining the reader with so ill a subject ; drydej before I quit that argument, which was the cause of this digression, I cannot but take notice 30 how I am corrected for my quotation of Seneca, in my defence of plays in verse.

A Play, as I had said to be like Nature, is to be set above it; as Statues which are placed on high are made greater than the life, that they may descend to the sight in their just proportion. For our own, I doubt not but it will exceedingly beautify them ; and I can see 5 but one reason why it should dgamatic generally obtain, that is, because our poets write so ill in it.

In the mean time I must desire you to take notice, that the greatest man of the last age Ben Jonson was willing to give place to them in all things: Eugenius was somewhat surprised, when he heard Crites make choice of that subject.

Therefore, Poesyy, you must either prove that words, though well chosen, and duly placed, yet render not Rhyme natural in it self; or, that however natural and esway the rhyme may be, yet it is not proper for a Play. I cannot say he is every where alike ; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of mankind.


dryden essay dramatic poesy sparknotes

And the first of them is grounded on that very reason for which some have commended rhyme ; they say, 15 the quickness of repartees in argumentative scenes receives an ornament from verse.

Thus this great man delivered to us the image of a play ; and I must confess it is so lively, that from thence much light has been derived to the forming it more perfectly into acts and scenes: His best-known critical work, An Essay on Dramatic Poesy, partly reflects this tension in Dryden’s commitments.

For you hear your Horace saying, Indignor quidquam reprehendi, non quia crassf Compositum, ilhpidtvc putetur, sed quia nufer. But I will be bolder, and do not doubt to make it good, edsay a paradox, that one great reason why 15 prose is not to be used in serious plays, is, because it is too near the nature of converse: I am content hereafter to be ordered by his rule, that is, to write it sometimes, because it pleases me; and fssay much the rather, 20 because he has declared that it pleases him.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden: An Overview

Thunder, or of Swallows in a Chimney: This, my Lord, was the substance of what was then spoke on that occasion; and Lisideius, I think was going to reply, when he was prevented thus by Crites: In the The Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy he makes out a case for double-legged imitation.

Here every one is a proper Judge of all he sees; nothing is represented but that with which he daily converses: It was the saying of Julius Caesar, one so curious in his, that none of them can be changed but for a worse. An Overview An Essay of Dramatic Poesy gives an explicit account of neo-classical theory of art in general. In the rest of Corneille’s comedies you have little humour ; 25 he tells you himself, his way is, first to shew two lovers in good intelligence with each other; in the working up of the play to embroil them by some mistake, and in the latter end to clear it, and reconcile them 4.