An essay on dramatic poesy text

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Four characters in Dryden's essay of dramatic poesy. Upcoming SlideShare. Like this presentation?

Edited with notes by Thomas Arnold.

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An Essay of Dramatic Poesy. Edited with Notes by Thomas Arnold

Published in: Education. Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No. Qiraat Rehman. Babloo Jatav. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Four characters in Dryden's essay of dramatic poesy 1.


Essay on Dramatic poesy: Dryden 3. Five issues are under discussion in this essay 1 Ancients vs. Moderns 2 Unities 3 French vs. English Drama 4 Separation of Tragedy and Comedy vs. The French even surpasses the ancients in basing their plays on some history. The French playwrights put pleasing fiction into the factuality of their plays in order to give it poetic justice. Following this statement Lisideius mocks Ben Jonson for his mixing of comedy and tragedy in his plays.

Returning to praising the French Lisideius says that they avoid tumult on stage by reporting duels and battles on stage while the English playwrights make their characters fight on stage as if they were competing for a prize. The English make a ridiculous charade of five men and a drum to indicate an army or a comical act of murder with artificial weapons which are so blunt that it would take an hour to kill a man in real life. This is why the audience laugh instead of feeling sad on watching the English tragic scenes for dying is art only a Roman gladiator can do in its actual sense.

Because such enactments of actions will only cause aversion in audience hence they are to be avoided by the playwrights. The French also has a sensible conversion at the end of a play and are skilled in using rhymes while the English poets are very poor at using rhyme. Neander : Neander is Dryden himself. He is presented here as a young English man and a scholarly gentleman with high regard to his nation.

He makes sure that the French are not above the English no matter what Lisideius argues. Neander admires two things on English theatre; i the variety of plot and characters in the English theatre and ii its masculine fancy with its charming irregularities. The beauty of French plays is like the charm of a statue while the English plays are like a living man- animated with soul of poesy. The English has more grace and masculine charm compared to the French. On the contrary to what Lisideius said about tragicomedy and its mixing of mirth and humour Neander says that the soul of a man is capable of relishing such contrasting emotions.

Tragicomedy is the more perfected way of play writing of the ancients and the moderns of any nation. The variety offered by the English plays, with sub plots, more characters and quick turns, will provide greater pleasure to the audience. The French poetry and their verses are the coldest according to Neander. He mocks the French practice of long speeches in their plays by saying that no one speaks in such length in sudden gust of passion. Again, the little action the French display on stage is laughed at by Neander.

He says that a good playwright should find a balance between exaggerated actions and too little actions on stage and make sure that the audience are not left unsatisfied. With the slavish adherence to the unities the French have destroyed their plots and their imagination. Shakespeare had the power to make the audience visualise the story while Jonson was the master of humour and the classic style.

After the discourse of four characters on the ancients, moderns, the French and the English Crites and Neander enter into an argument where rhyme and Blank Verse are discussed. Crites is speaking against rhyme and in favour of blank verse. Neander speaks in favour of rhyme. Crites : Rhyme is not allowable in serious plays. Because rhyme is so unnatural in a play as no one speaks in rhyme in sudden gust of emotions. Even the ancients wrote in verse form Iambic which was more similar to prose. In our age what is more similar to prose is blank verse.

But Crites says that, in the first case, rhyme is not natural and, in the second case, that a good poet will avoid errors when he writes in blank verse and rhyme. Rhyme is incapable of expressing the great thoughts. Neander: He says that a good poet always writes the first line keeping in mind the second line of his poetry-intending that rhyme is more creative and artful than blank verse.


Rhyme can be as natural as blank verse. If no man speaks in rhyme on stage, Neander claims, no one speaks in blank verse either. The ancients not only wrote in Iambic verse but also used rhyme. Rhyming is a more perfected way of writing in our age. The only reason for the hostility towards rhyme is its novelty and one must wait till he get used to the new style of writing to like it.

Of all heroic rhyme is more close to nature and noblest kind of modern verse. As tragedy and epic are basically same except for their manner of narration if rhyme can be used for epic it is good to be used for play as well. If using rhyme seems inappropriate when the hero addresses a servant on stage, Neander believes, a playwright who is a master of English language can make is as artful as Seneca did in Latin.

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He admits that the play follows the unity of time, action and place. The time is not more than a natural day and the place is within the compass of two houses.

The English requires certain oddness or weirdness in a character in order to find him or her comic. The character has to have unusual characteristics and strange persona. But the ancients and the French never attempted to produce comic effects on stage by making a character imitate a person on stage in a disfigured manner. For example the character Morose has the characteristics of any old man who has a disliking for disturbing noise and the character Falstaff, apart from his unique humour in his dialogues, looks very common with his old, fat, merry and cowardly manner. Even disguising the boy as a woman inside the plot of the play could not have fed the need for the English to see the weirdness on stage. His talent was that supreme that he could bring comic effect effortlessly into English stage and the play Silent Woman remains as a play with more wit and acuteness of fancy than any other plays of Ben Jonson.

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