By using the word just Dryden seems to imply that literature imitates human actions. In the present age, it flourishes in France and not in England. But this hinders not that there may be more shining characters in the Play many persons of a second magnitude, nay, some so very near, so almost equal to the first, that greatness may be opposed to greatness, and all the persons be made considerable, not only by their quality, but their action. Taking then a Barge which a servant of Lisideus had provided for them, they made haste to shoot the Bridge, and left behind them that great fall of waters which hindered them from hearing what they desired: Regularity of French plots makes the plays too much alike. His best-known critical work, An Essay on Dramatic Poesy, partly reflects this tension in Dryden’s commitments.

And the Unity of Action is even more obvious. And Ovid once so modestly, that he asks leave to do it: Besides, you see it founded upon the truth of History, only the time of the action is not reducible to the strictness of the Rules; and you see in some places a little farce mingled, which is below the dignity of the other parts; and in this all our Poets are extremely peccant, even Ben Jonson himself in Sejanus and Catiline has given us this Oleo [also Olio: Neither do the Spanish, French, Italian or Germans acknowledge at all, or very rarely any such kind of Poesy as blank verse amongst them. I answer you therefore, by distinguishing betwixt what is nearest to the nature of Comedy, which is the imitation of common persons and ordinary speaking, and what is nearest the nature of a serious Play: We have borrowed nothing from them; our Plots are weaved in English Looms: It was that memorable day, in the first Summer of the late War, when our Navy engaged the Dutch:

The English, by contrast, show their characters having changes of heart that are over-reactions to circumstances and therefore not believable. Similarly the French are more skilled than the Ancients. A Priam and Astyanax murdered, and Cassandra ravished, and the lust and murder ending in the victory of him that acted them: He was a most severe Judge of himself as well as others.


He praises Shakespeare, ancients and moderns. Many times they spoke out the dialogues before the actors spoke them. He managed his strength to more advantage than any who preceded him.

John Dryden: An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

Athar Malik 24 April at Community Community portal Web chat Mailing list. Priestley 18th January It is artificial and the art is too apparent, while true art consists in hiding art. In their comedies, no doubt they introduce a few scenes of tenderness but, then, their lovers talk very little.

According to him, poetry is a work of art dramaic than mere imitation. The classical drama also lacks affection. Our Poets present you the Play and the farce together; and our Stages still retain somewhat of the Original civility of the Red-Bull; Atque ursum et pugiles media dramayic carmina poscunt [they ask for a bear or boxers in the middle of plays.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy

As for example, the death of Cyrus, whom Justin and some others report to have perished in the Scythian war, but Xenophon affirms to have died in his bed of extreme old age. The Moderns have not blindly imitated them.

dryden essay of dramatic poesy sparknotes

Besides this, I am assured from diverse persons, that Ben Ddryden was actually acquainted with such a man, one altogether as ridiculous as he is here represented.

As he did not want imagination, so none ever said he had much to spare. He believes that subplots enrich the drama. French poetry more beautiful than English.

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by John Dryden

Neander questions this assumption and replies to it by saying why should he imagine the soul of dramtaic more heavy than his senses? XVII Neander’s overall statement on the literary standards is that, ….


Crites develops the main points in defending the ancients and raises sparknotees to modern plays. Hence the French plays are better written eessay the English ones. Corneille himself, their Arch-Poet, what has he produced except The Liarand you know how it was cried up in France; but when it came upon the English Stage, though well translated, and that part of Dorant acted to so much advantage by Mr. The website is called DigitalEssay.

They are inferior to the English Moderns in all these respects. He cleared the ground for himself by brushing away all the arbitrary bans upon freedom of judgment and refused to be cowed down by the French playwrights and critics. Essqy Play, as I had said to be like Nature, is to be set 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.

dryden essay of dramatic poesy sparknotes

Crites had no sooner left speaking, but Eugenius who waited with some impatience for it, thus began: Therefore; Dryden makes comparison of both the Dramatists. The hand of Art will be too visible in it against that maxim of all Professions; Ars est celare artem. Now what is more unreasonable than to imagine that a man should not only light upon the Wit, but the Rhyme too upon the sudden?

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.