For Beaumont of those many writ in few ; And Massinger in other few: And it can do so much more swiftly. What the philo sophers say of motion, that, when it is once begun, it continues of itself, and will do so to eternity, without some stop put to it, is clearly true on this occasion: He so interweaves Truth with probable Fiction, that he puts a pleasing Fallacy upon us; mends the intrigues of Fate, and dispenses with the severity of History, to reward that virtue which has been rendered to us there unfortunate. Farther, I will not argue whether we received it originally from our own Countrymen, or from the French; for that is an inquiry of as little benefit, as theirs who in the midst of the great Plague were not so solicitous to provide against it, as to know whether we had it from the malignity of our own air, or by transportation from Holland. Lesideius defends the French playwrights and attacks the English tendency to mix genres. Do we not see them stick to Hopkins’ and Sternhold’s psalms, and forsake those of David, I mean Sandys his translation of 20 them?

But it is to raise envy to the living, to compare them with the dead. Instead of providing the necessary information to the audience through dialogues the Ancients often do so through monologues. Unity of author, work and reader. The English authors gave due respect to them, but they had no clear-cut concept of dividing a Play into Acts. See Dryden’s “Defense of An Essay of Dramatic Poesy” , where Dryden tries to persuade the rather literal-minded Howard that audiences expect a play to be an imitation of nature, not a surrogate for nature itself.

This dryyden is to which, in fine, all your reasons must submit. Thus, like a skilful Chess-player, by little and little he draws out his men, and makes his pawns of use to his greater persons. There is no poetic justice in their plays. Poet, but Shakespeare the great wit, Shakespeare. 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.

dryden essay dramatic poesy sparknotes

A play, as I have said, to be like nature, is to be set 5 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. It is usually assumed that Dryden was alto gether wrong in preferring the heroic couplet to blank verse as the metre of serious dramas ; and his own sub sequent abandonment of rhyme foreshadowed, as we have seen, in the prologue to Aurung-zebe is regarded as an admission that his argument in favour of it was un sound.


Shakespeare “had the largest and most comprehensive soul,” while Jonson was “the most learned and judicious writer which any theater ever had.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden: An Overview

Therefore, Crites, you must either prove that words, though well chosen, and duly placed, yet render not rhyme natural in itself; or that, however natural and easy the rhyme may be, yet it is not 5 proper for a play. If you insist on the former part, I would ask you, what other conditions are required to make rhyme natural in itself, besides an election of apt words, and a right disposition l of them?

They have developed their own principles and proved themselves to be superior to the Greek and French dramatists in many ways.

He believes that subplots enrich drydenn drama. That is, those actions which by reason of their cruelty 15 will cause aversion in us, or by reason of their im possibility, unbelief, ought either wholly to be avoided by a poet, or only delivered by narration.

dryden essay dramatic poesy sparknotes

Dryden carried out his critical thoughts effectively, stating his own ideas but leaving some room for difference of opinion. First then I am of opinion, that Rhyme is unnatural in a Play, because Dialogue there is presented as the effect of sudden thought.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by John Dryden

It is Unnatural to shift the action from one place to another, especially to distant places. And Verse I affirm to be one of these: Yet since he 15 has given the Errata, I wish he would have inlarged them only a few sheets more, and then he would have spared me the labour of an answer: Summary Absalom and Achitophel: I am apt to believe the English Language in them arrived to its highest perfection; what words have since been taken in, are rather superfluous than sparrknotes.

Many have blamed Rhyme in general, for this fault, when the Poet, with essag little care, might have redressed it. This, you say, looks rather like the confederacy of two, than the answer of one.

John Dryden: An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

He says that both classical and neoclassical favour rules and unities time, place and action. This nicking n of him who spoke before both 20 in sound and measure, is so great an happiness, that you must at least suppose the persons of your play to be born poets: Our Poets eszay you the Play and the dramaatic 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 possy a bear or boxers in the middle of plays.


As for the French, though they have the word humeur among them, yet they have small use of it dramafic their Comedies, or Farces; they being but ill imitations of the ridiculumor that which stirred up laughter in the old Comedy. Upon this it suddenly languished, and after being occasionally revived until the end of the century, found its last example in Sedley’s Beauty of the Conqueror, published in Those who accuse him to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: During the twenty years of Shakespeare’s dramatic activity, from being lyrical it tended more and more to become conversational in Comedy, and in Tragedy to depend for its effects rather on the rhetorical rise and fall of the period than on the unit of the line.

Neither is that other advantage of the Ancients to dryren despised, of changing the kind of verse when they please with the change of the Scene, or some new entrance: But in truth these couplets, in the hands of Dryden and his followers, rramatic something very different from the Alexandrines of Corneille, Racine, and Moliere.

And here having a place so proper essau it I cannot but enlarge somewhat upon this subject of humor into which I am fallen. That the marriage had been plotted by him long beforehand, is made evident by what he tells True-wit in the second act, that in one moment 10 he had destroyed what he had been raising many months.

The question now is, which of us two has mistaken it ; and if it appear I have not, spaarknotes world will suspect 15 what gentleman that was, who was allowed to speak twice in parliament, because he had not yet spoken to ‘ the question ; and perhaps conclude it to be the same, who, ’tis reported, maintained a contradiction in ter- minis, in the face of three hundred persons.

His first play, The Wild Gallant, was in prose ; it is coarse and not much enlivened by wit, and it was not well received. There too you see, till the very last Scene, new difficulties arising to obstruct the action of the Play; and when the Audience is brought into despair that the business can naturally be effected, then, and not before, the discovery is made. Neander 1 Fill in the blanks: