From an essay of dramatic poesy by john dryden summary
Thus this great man delivered to us the image of a Play, and I must confess it is so lively that from thence much light has been derived to the forming it more perfectly into Acts and Scenes; but what Poet first limited to five the number of the Acts I know not; only we see it so firmly established in the time of Horace, that he gives it for a rule in Comedy; Neu brevior quinto, neu sit productior actu [let it be neither shorter nor longer than five acts—ed.
The English, by contrast, show their characters having changes of heart that are over-reactions to circumstances and therefore not believable. For Lisideius "no theater in the world has anything so absurd as the English tragicomedy; in two hours and a half, we run through all the fits of Bedlam.
Lisideius argues that French drama is superior to English drama, basing this opinion of the French writer's close adherence to the classical separation of comedy and tragedy.
He talks about the greatness of Elizabethans. Lisideius suggests that the French are superior to the English. When his famous Poem first came out in the year, I have seen them reading it in the midst of Change-time; many so vehement they were at it, that they lost their bargain by the Candles ends: but what will you say, if he has been received amongst the great Ones?
Essay on dramatic poesy gradesaver
Ancient writers can excel in one only, either tragedy or comedy. These four critical positions deal with five issues. He defends the classical drama saying that it is an imitation of life and reflects human nature clearly. The English, by contrast, show their characters having changes of heart that are over-reactions to circumstances and therefore not believable. They prefer emotions over plots. Dryden emphasizes the idea of decorum in the work of art. English plays are more entertaining and instructive because they offer an element of surprise that the ancients and the French do not. The four gentlemen, Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius, and Neander all aliases for actual Restoration critics and the last for Dryden himself , begin an ironic and witty conversation on the subject of poetry, which soon turns into a debate on the virtues of modern and ancient writers.
Ancient plots are transparent, everybody already knows what will happen; the Romans borrowed from the Greeks. The four men debate a series of three topics: 1 the relative merit of classical drama upheld by Crites vs.
Waller; nothing so Majestic, so correct as Sir John Denham; nothing so elevated, so copious, and full of spirit, as Mr.
An Old Father that would willingly before he dies see his Son well married; his Debauched Son, kind in his Nature to his Wench, but miserably in want of Money, a Servant or Slave, who has so much wit to strike in with him, and help to dupe his Father, a Braggadochio, Captain, a Parasite, and a Lady of Pleasure.
An essay on dramatic poesy summary and analysis pdf
Crites argues in favor of the ancients: they established the unities; dramatic rules were spelled out by Aristotle which the current-and esteemed-French playwrights follow; and Ben Jonson-the greatest English playwright, according to Crites-followed the ancients' example by adhering to the unities. On the other hand, Neander defends rhyme as it briefly and clearly explains everything. However, he is not a rule bound critic, tied down to the classical unities or to notions of what constitutes a "proper" character for the stage. On the language of the ancients: In anticipating the objection that the ancients' language is not as vital as the moderns, Crites 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. They agree to measure progress by comparing ancient arts with modern, focusing specifically on the art of drama or "dramatic poesy". Even Neander's final argument with Crites over whether rhyme is suitable in drama depends on Aristotle's Poetics: Neander says that Aristotle demands a verbally artful "lively" imitation of nature, while Crites thinks that dramatic imitation ceases to be "just" when it departs from ordinary speech—i. He relies heavily on Corneille - and through him on Horace - which places him in a pragmatic tradition. On the three unities: Time, Place, 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. I will not deny but by the variation of painted Scenes, the Fancy which in these cases will contribute to its own deceit may sometimes imagine it several places, with some appearance of probability; yet it still carries the greater likelihood of truth, if those places be supposed so near each other, as in the same Town or City; which may all be comprehended under the larger Denomination of one place: for a greater distance will bear no proportion to the shortness of time, which is allotted in the acting, to pass from one of them to another; for the Observation of this, next to the Ancients, the French are to be most commended. Two types of "bad" English poets: p. A year later, the two brothers-in-law quarreled publicly over this third topic. Shakespeare "had the largest and most comprehensive soul," while Jonson was "the most learned and judicious writer which any theater ever had. He finds single action in French dramas to be rather inadequate since it so often has a narrowing and cramping effect. He had no sooner said this, but all desired the favor of him to give the definition of a Play; and they were the more importunate, because neither Aristotle, nor Horace, nor any other, who writ of that Subject, had ever done it.
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