It is artificial and the art is too apparent, while true art consists in hiding art. Dryden prescriptive in nature, defines dramatic art as an imitation with the aim to delight and to teach, and is considered a just and lively image of human nature representing its passions and humors for the delight and instruction of mankind. Tragedy we know is wont to image to us the minds and fortunes of noble persons, and to portray these exactly, Heroic Rhyme is nearest Nature, as being the noblest kind of modern verse. For this, they even alter the original situation. The dramatic period lusting till And this, in short, Eugenius, is the reason, why you have now so few good Poets; and so many severe Judges: And Verse I affirm to be one of these:

Those who accuse him to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: In this way, they avoid much that is ridiculous and absurd in the English plays. I must remember you that all the Rules by which we practice the Drama at this day, either such as relate to the justness and symmetry of the Plot; or the Episodical Ornaments, such as Descriptions, Narrations, and other Beauties, which are not essential to the Play; were delivered to us from the Observations that Aristotle made, of those Poets, which either lived before him, or were his Contemporaries: Invention was of course allowed but only as a modification of past models, not in the form of a rupture. Nature is dumb on such occasions, and to make her speak, would be to represent her unlike her self.

Blank Verse is acknowledged to be too low for a Poem, nay more, for a paper of verses; but if too low for an ordinary Sonnet, how much more for Tragedy, which is by Aristotle in the dispute betwixt the Epic Poesy and the Dramatick; for many reasons he drycens alleges ranked above it. Essay on Poetic Theory. All the difference between them when they are both correct, is the sound in one, which the other wants; and if so, the sweetness of it, and all the advantage resulting from it, which are handled in the Preface to The Rival Ladieswill yet stand good.


Many times they fall by it into a greater inconvenience; for they keep their Scenes unbroken, and yet change the place as in one of their newest Plays, where the Act begins in the Street.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden | Poetry Foundation

This therefore will hjs a good Argument to us either not to write at all, or to attempt some other way. This Gentleman is called away, and leaves his servant with his Mistress: Eugenius says that “the moderns have profited by the rules of the ancients” but moderns have “excelled them. Further, he suggests that English plays are more entertaining and instructive because they offer an element of surprise that the Ancients and the French do not.

drydens an essay of dramatic poesy gives us his views on

These four critical positions deal with five issues. Dryden’s theory of criticism in ” a essay of dramatic poesy “. Thus their drama is really an imitation of life. The same custom they observed likewise in their Tragedies. Crites develops the main points in defending the ancients and raises objections to modern plays.

Now the Plots of their Plays being narrow, and the persons few, one of their Acts was written in a less compass than one of our well wrought Scenes, and yet they are often deficient even in this: Even the Ancients did not always observe the Unity of Time.


When it comes to the Unity of Place, they are equally careful. He goes on to say also that while the Ancients portrayed many emotions and actions, they neglected love, “which is the most frequent of all passions” and known to everyone.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

But you foresaw when you said this, that it might be answered; neither does any man speak in blank verse, or in measure without rhyme. An Essay on Dramatic Poesy: However, they have certain glaring faults which cannot be denied. If the words of some poets who write in it, are either ill chosen, or ill placed, which makes not only rhyme, but all kind of verse in any language unnatural, shall I, for their vicious affectation condemn those excellent lines of Fletcher, which are written in that kind?


Crites uses Ben Jonson as the example of the best in English drama, saying that he followed the Ancients “in all things” and offered nothing really new in terms of “serious thoughts”.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by John Dryden

Unity of author, work and reader. I could multiply other instances, but these are sufficient to prove su there is no error in choosing a subject which requires this sort of narrations; in the ill managing of them, there may. I answer, Some parts of the action are more fit to be represented, some to be related. The French dramatists never mix tragedy and comedy.

drydens an essay of dramatic poesy gives us his views on

If Horace, Lucan, Petronius Arbiter, Seneca, and Juvenal, had their own from him, there are few serious thoughts which are new in him; you will pardon me therefore if I presume he loved their fashion when he wore their clothes.

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An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by Dryden | English Summary

He also offers cogent arguments in favour of setting. If you insist upon the former part, Drydejs would ask you what other conditions are required to make Rhyme natural in itself, besides an election of apt words, and a right disposing of them? But he was not the blind follower of interest of another point and returned to it at some later stage.

And as Dryden believes, we may find writers like Shakespeare who did not follow the rules but are nevertheless obviously superior to any “regular” writer. The real test of excellence is ob strict adherence to rules or conventions, but whether the aims of dramas have been achieved.

drydens an essay of dramatic poesy gives us his views on

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 must not be represented.