Thus, he presents the comparative merits and demerits of each in a clearer way. The discussion takes place against a pleasant character. Hence the French plays are better written than the English ones. Johnson calls psychological analysis of those values. Neander 1 Fill in the blanks: John Dryden occupies a rare position in the history of English literature; he was the greatest man of letters in his age as he was also the greatest critic in his country. Nature is dumb on such occasions, and to make her speak, would be to represent her unlike her self.
I cannot say he is every where alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of Mankind. Does not the eye pass from an unpleasant object to a pleasant in a much shorter time than is required to this? After William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, he was the greatest playwright. At this, he ends up his conversation. Thus when you see Socrates brought upon the Stage, you are not to imagine him made ridiculous by the imitation of his actions, but rather by making him perform something very unlike himself: Is the sense of the verses tied down to, and limited by, the rhymes, or are the rhymes in service to, and an enhancement of, the sense of the verses? In his comparison of French and English drama, Neander characterizes the best proofs of the Elizabethan playwrights.
They strictly adhere to the poetic justice i. But in French plays, the other characters are not neglected.
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How to cite this page Choose cite format: It is artificial and the art is too apparent, while true art consists in hiding art. Latin verse was as great a confinement to the imagination of those Poets, as Rhyme to ours: I will grant it was not altogether left by him, and that Fletcher and Ben Jonson used it frequently in their Pastorals, and sometimes in other Plays. The unities have a narrowing and crumpling effect on the French plays, which are often betrayed into absurdities from which the English plays are free.
But there is also the quick and poignant brevity of it which is an high imitation of Nature in those sudden gusts of passion to mingle with it: He relies heavily on Corneille – and through him on Horace – which places him in a pragmatic tradition.
The hand of Art will be too visible in it against that maxim of all Professions; Ars est celare artem.
He finds single action in French dramas to be rather inadequate since it deamatic often has a narrowing and cramping effect. The French plays have it, while the English do not. And Verse I affirm to be one of these: Crites favours classical drama i.
In variety we recognize human behavior, real life, and the essence of nature. The third unity, that of action, requires that the play “aim at one great and complete action”, but the English have all kinds of sub-plots which destroy the unity of the action.
And that all this is practicable, I can produce for examples many of our English Plays: Lastly, the Catastrophe, which the Grecians called lysisthe French le denouementand we the discovery or unraveling of the Plot: Four which was first published in but written three years speakers representing four leading writers of the day earlier.
The violation of unities helps the English playwright to present a mere, just and lively image of human nature.
Thus we sufficiently understand that the Scenes which represent Cities and Countries to us, are not really such, but only painted on boards and Canvass: He finds the French drama, with its single action. Neander seems to speak for Dryden himself.
Literary Theory Essay on Dryden’s ‘an Essay on Dramatic Poesy’
Many have blamed Rhyme in general, for this fault, when the Poet, with a little care, might have redressed it. All passions can be in a lively manner represented on the stage, only if the actor has the necessary skill, but there are many actions which cannot be successfully represented, and dying is one of them. Skip to main content. The first Play which brought Fletcher and him in esteem was their Philaster: One of these advantages is that which Corneille has laid down as the greatest which can arrive to any Poem, and which he himself could drrydens compass above thrice in all his Plays, viz.
As regards the action, Eugenius contends that they are transparent, everybody already having known what will happen; that the Romans borrowed from the Greeks; and that the deus ex machina convention is a weak escape.
But a long sober shower gives them leisure to run out as they came in, without troubling the ordinary current. The French dramatists never mix tragedy and comedy.
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For they are always the effect of some hasty concernment, and something of consequence depends upon them. But to convince these people, I need but tell them, that humor is the ridiculous extravagance of conversation, wherein one man differs from all others. Neither is that other advantage of the Ancients to be despised, of changing the kind of verse when they please with the change of the Scene, or some new entrance: Dryden and his contemporaries looked upon the ancients as their drydena.
Neander was pursuing this Discourse so eagerly, that Eugenius had called to him twice or thrice ere he took notice that the Barge stood still, and that they were at the foot of Somerset-Stairs, where they had appointed it aan land.
After this, the Father enters to the Daughter, and now the Scene is in a House: