TOPIC : “An Essay of Dramatic poetry:
John Dryden: Brief Summary.”
NAME : Italiya kinjal.B
ROLL NO: 02
SEM -1: M.A. PART-1
SUBMITTED TO: Dr.Barad sir
Department of English, Bhavnagar University.
An Essay of Dramat
ic poetry: John Dryden: Brief Summary:-
The dialogue begins with critics’ complaining about two types of “bad” English poets: the first are the poets who “perpetually pay us with clenches upon words and a certain clownish kind of raillery”, (bad metaphysical?) and the second is he who “affects plainness to cover his want of imagination” (bad puritans?) He goes on to suggest that no one writing can surpass the ancients or even the previous generation of English writers, to which Eugeniusz responds that he might be rejecting everything recent just because it is recent. The debate begins in earnest when the four decide that they will”limit their dispute” to a discussion of dramatic poesy and whether the “ancients were superior to the moderns.” Additionally, they must decide on definition of what a play should be.Lisideius offers the agreed upon terms: Just and lively image of human nature, representing its passions and humors, and the changes of fortune to which it is subject, for the delight and instruction of mankind.
Crites develops the main points in defending the ancients and the objections to modern plays. The moderns are still imitating the ancients and using their forms and subjects, relying on Aristotle and Horace,adding nothing new and yet not following their good advice closely enough, especially with respect to the unities of time, place and action. While the unity of time suggests that all the action should be portrayed within a single day, English plays attempt to use long periods of time, sometimes years. In terms of place, the setting should be the same from beginning to end with the scenes marked by the entrances and exits of the persons having business within each. The English, on the other hand, try to have all kinds of places, even far off countries, shown within a single play. 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. In anticipating the objection that the ancients’ language is not as vital as the moderns, crates say that we have to remember that we are probably missing a lot of subtleties because the languages are dead and the customs far removed from this time. Rites use Ben Jonson as an 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”.
Eugeniusz responds that though “the moderns have profited by the rules of the ancients” they have “excelled them”. He points first to some discrepancies in the applications of the unities, mentioning that there seem to be four parts in Aristotle’s method: the entrance, the intensifying of the plot, the counter-turn, and the catastrophe. But he points out that somewhere along the line, and by way of Horace, plays developed five acts. As far as the action , Eugeniusz contends that they are transparent, everybody already knows what will happen; that the Romans borrowed from the Greeks; and that the ancients wren’s the ones to insist on it so much as the French and that insistence has caused some artificial entrances and exits of characters. The unity of time is often ignored in both. As to the liveliness of language,Eugenius counters crates by suggesting that even if we don’t know all the contexts, good writing is always good, wit is always discernible If done well . He goes on to say also that while the ancients portrayed many emotions and action, they neglected love.” Which is? Wit is always discernible. If done well. He goes on to say also that while the ancients portrayed many emotion and actions, they neglected love.” Which is the most frequent of all passions” and Known to everyone.He mentions Shakespeare and Fletcher as offering” excellent scenes of passion.”
Lisideius’ discussion of the French follows. He declares them the best of all Europe because of their adherence to the unities and the most important point here is that they maintain the unity of an action by not adding confusing sub-plots. Here he begins the discussion of the English tragic- comedy. Which he calls “absurd”. He commends the French as well for basing their tragedies on “some known history,” that in this way fiction is combined with reality so that some truth can be revealed. He compares Shakespeare’s history plays, saying that “they are rather so many chronicles of kings,” years of history packed into a 2 1 /2 hour play so that the point is lost. He reports that the French do several things much better than the English. First, they keep the plot to one action which they then develop fully where the English add all kinds of actions that don’t always fallow from the main one. The French also focus on one main character and all the characters have sum connection with him and have a purpose that advance the plot .Additionally, the French use narrations (reporting by the character s)to describethings that happen, like battles and deaths that lisideius says ridiculous when shown on stage.”The represention”of incidents that cannot be portrayed as realistic possible or believable anyway are better omitted. This goes I think to the issue of decorum since he says”som parts of the action are more fit to be represented, some to be related”. Further he says the French never end their plays with”conversions”or”changes of will “without setting up the proper justification for it. The English by contrast show their characters having changes of heart that are over reactions to the circumstances and therefore not beklievable.Also in the French plays, the character never come in or leave a scene without the proper justifications being supplied. Finally he compliments the “Beauty of their rhyme” suggesting that it would help English poetry, though he doesn’t think there’s anyone capable of doing it properly.
Neander has the last word, suggesting that based on the definition of a play.English are best at “the lively imitation of nature” (human nature), conceding that while French poesy is beautiful: it is beautiful like a”statue”.He even say that the newer French writers are imitating the English. One fault he finds in their plots is that the regularity, which has been complimented as uncluttered, also makes the plays too much alike. He defends the English invention of traffic-comedy by suggesting that the use of mirth with tragedy provides “contraries “that “set each other offhand give the audience relief from the plays interesting and help the main acting. Further, he suggests they English plays are more entertaining and instructive because they offer an element of surprise the t tee ancients and the French do not. As far as decorum things the French choose not to portray on stage he brings up the idea of the suspension of disbelief. The audience knows none of it is real why should they think sconces of death or battles any less”real”then the rest ?i think here he credits the English audience with a cretin robustness in the suggesting that they want their battles and “other objects of horror”. Ultimately in discussing the English habit of breaking the rules. He suggests that it may be there are simply too many rules and often that following then creates more absurdities than they prevent.
At the end of essay a discussion of the proper use of rhyme and verse ensues mostly between crates who want to eliminate the use of rhyme while he sees as sounding artificial. And meander who says if you want to eliminate rhyme on that basis why not verse on the same grounds.Neander suggest that comedy should not be rhymed but that the heroic tragedy should be. To crite’s charge that it is too much invention Neander says that if a writer must choose every word that is artificial. If properly done the additional artifices of verse and rhymer are no less contrived but can add to the effect of the play.