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1. How does Dryden translate personal poetry?

satire into

Thomas Shadwell was a playwright for the Dukes company and wrote comedies of humour on the lines of Ben Jonsons comedies. He had produced the Hypocrite in 1670, The Miser in 1671 and Epsom Wells in 1672. During this period Dryden was writing for the rival Kings Company, a very different type of the heroic tragedy. A coterie of rival writers and detractors satirized Dryden wherever they could. The Rehersal satirized Dryden as Mr. Bayes ridiculing his poet-laureateship. During the fears of the Popish plot and the Exclusionist crisis, Shadwell and the Whig press published another satire The Medal of John Bayes. There were many issues on which Dryden and Shadwell differed. Dryden preferred the comedy of wit and repartee and Shadwell humorous comedy. They also differed in their estimate of Ben Jonson. They sharply disagreed over the purpose of comedy and over the value of rhymed plays. Each leveled against the other charge of plagiarism. Moreover Dryden was a confirmed monarchist where as Shadwell was a true blue protestant. The clash between Dryden and Shadwell was originally a clash of personalities between two literary stalwarts of the time. Soon this clash entered into arena of politics of the theatre . The hostility between the two dramatists gained epic proportions around 1678. Dryden had long speculated a suitable mode of reply to Shadwell and finally chose to write a complex mock-heroic poem that has made literary history. It fulfills its primary aim to lampoon Shadwell to whom Dryden gives a literary genealogy away from Jonson by making him MacFlecknoe or son of Flecknoe. Flecknoe was for Drydens contemporaries the epitome of the bad poet as revealed in Marvells satire Flecknoe, an English priest at Rome. Dryden chose Flecknoe as Shadwells poetic father because Flecknoe too had created a Jonsonian image for himself. Unlike Jonson, however, he often got his Latin wrong while adorning many of his little pages with Horatian and Virgilian mottos. Furthermore Flecknoes work abounded in dedication to and complementary verses for the Duke of Newcastle who had been Jonsons patron and also Shadwells . These are of course the Northern dedications in MacFlecknoe: Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill, And does thy Northern dedications fill.(ll.169-170)

The northerness is suggestive of a climate where wit is scarce; what Laurence Sterne called freeze land or fogland in Tristram Shandy. In Richard Flecknoe we have then a writer who aped Ben Jonson with offensive pride and lamentable incompetence, who joins Shadwell against Dryden in the debate over what constituted true classicism; whose attacks on Killigrew, Davenant and Etherage must have offended Dryden. Moreover in 1675 he has published a poem in his Treatise of the Sports of Wit Adue:

.tis time
To seek for shelter in some Foreign Clime Tis time to go, my singing days are done. He had announced his retirement (though not for the first time) and Dryden decided to take him at his word. In MacFlecknoe the aged Prince: Worn out with business, did at length debate To settle the Succession of the State. The self styled son of Ben is retiring: who will inherit his mantle ? It will be Shadwell, not the legitimate son of Jonson, but the son of Flecknoe and the illegitimate son too, if Flecknoe was indeed a Roman catholic priest. However, when Dryden initiates the theme of familial succession he is not simply satirizing a private enemy. Flecknoe-Macflecknoe is only one of the many father-son successor pairs presented in the poem: God-Christ, Elijah- Elisha, Aeneas- Ascanius, Hamilcar-Hannibal. Beside these pairs Flecknoe-McFlecknoe is mentioned for a mock-heroic effect. Besides this, the issue of succession was being hotly debated in contemporary politics and would have added spice to the readers enjoyment of this narrative of mock-succession. The whole of it is a comic counterpart to the serious question of who should succeed Charles II. The character of Flecknoe is super imposed upon the promiscuous figure of Charles-II to create complex picture of the poet-monarch. Line 12 further increases the domain of the satire: Flecknoe wonders which of all his sons was fit to reign and wage immortal war with wit. The Miltonic echo suggests Christs war with Evil/Satan and reminds us of the immortal war of Paradise Lost. Also transversely Flecknoes war with wit makes him Satanic in

proportion to the norm Wit/Good which he transgresses. The alliteration of w in this line is used to stress Shadwells lack of wit. Thus Macflecknoe is a poem which argues that order must be maintained at all costs. The poem proposes that contemporary literary world is threatened by chaos and decay having fallen into the hands of monarchs like Flecknoe and Shadwell. It is thus on the verge of a collapse and Shadwell and Flecknoe unitedly threaten to bring down the barbican all together. Shadwells offensive pen has a negative strength: In thy felonious heart though venom lies, It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dyes. (ll.201-202) Shadwells kingdom is political, theatrical and prophetic. Here, prostitutes are actresses, but they are also queens. Shadwell rises from the brothel as the prince aS ancient Dekker had prophesized long since. This unstable negative world is consistently set against of better heroic and religious world sometimes a great political world like Augustan Rome, sometimes a great religious world like the kingdom of God. The mock-heroic idioms are applied to the fullest to bring out Restorations great nightmare vision of cultural anarchy. Dryden believes that such Satanic forces like Flecknoe and Shadwell need to be purged out by the Varronian satire of MacFlecknoe. Though Dryden himself comments that such satires are written not to reform but to vex, the purpose of the satire is clear. Both poets, Shadwell and Flecknoe are essentially destructive Satanic agents. They need to be publicly ridiculed so that they can never presume to usurp the throne of wt, for if they do, the literary world will collapse. And since the literary world is the creative and ideological backbone of the political and the religious world, the order and decorum of the society will collapse. Whatever personal attack Dryden makes on Shadwell in the course of the poem, he does because he has this aim in mind. He brings a reference to Shadwells frequent opium eating but it is a multi-layered metaphor. The poppy is not merely soporific, it also parches and sterilizes. Charges are leveled against Shadwells mountain belly because Dryden feels that this is the only feature of his which resembles Ben Jonson. The poem reaches the level of high art by using the mock-heroic idiom. Like Varro he builds up an imaginary situation for a basic narrative structure. In a glorious panegyric we find the conservative monarchist feeling threatened because seditious mercantile Whig energies are gradually invading high art. They threaten to set up the court of letters in Grub Street and must be stopped. For this purpose

Dryden incorporates not only figures and echoes of other epics like Aeneid, Paradise Lost and


but also draws other sources, classical and

Christian, historical and legendary. By a complex layering of metaphor and using heroic types and figures, Dryden builds up a semi-mythical norm that operates through satirical inversion and ironic incongruity.

2. What picture of contemporary literary scene do you find in MacFlecknoe?

MacFlecknoe can be seen as the Restorations great nightmare vision of cultural anarchy. One of Drydens most virulent satires, MacFlecknoe defies the concept of 18th century decorum and neoclassical balance and proportion. At the same time the poems topical, political and theatrical references have led scholars to give a larger importance to Drydens handling of local color than the poetic structure of the poem. The title identifies the True Blue- Prostestant- poet T.S as the object of satire. It is evident that though the question of succession is involved, it is the theatre rather than the monarchy which is emphasized. Flecknoes kingdom is the stage, presided over by its playwright-king. Within this world, texts, like scripts are literally formed into solid substance.

Shadwells production clog the streets like refuse and subjects who flock to his coronation are books transformed into men by Drydens own figure of speech. The text is not merely the literary product of an explicitly
commercial order. It takes on a physical being in the poem and MacFlecknoe argues that literary representation determines the very institutions- political and cultural from which society is formed. Shadwells coronation as a king is decided because only he can wage War with Wit. Wit in MacFlecknoe as in other poems of the period variously denotes the intellect, the poetic imagination and a general vitality and sprightliness of mind. It is this which differentiates a great writer and a literary fool like Shadwell. One of the most dominant concerns of the Restoration age is the differentiation of a Truewit and a Witwoud. The object of satire, Thomas Shadwell, was born in Norfolk and was an ardent Whig. He had attacked the anti-Exclusionists in a comely entitled The Lancashire Witches and had frequently caused displeasure to the Tory Dryden. He had superseded Dryden as the poet- laureate after the Protestant victory of the Glorious Revolution. He had differed with Dryden on a number of issues but the literary ones are significant in the context of MacFlecknoe. The two poets differed in their estimation of the genius of Ben Jonson. Drydens preference for the comedy of wit and repartee and Shadwells for humors comedy encouraged the animosity. They sharply disagreed on the true purpose of comedy and over the value of rhymed play. Each blamed the other for plagiarism. Flecknoe, the Irish priest-poet, seems an appropriate image of antiquated dullness whom Dryden associated with bad poetry and worse

literary opinions. The two elaborate speeches made by King Flecknoe in a glorious mockpanegyric, lay bare the hollowness of Shadwells literary pretensions. The invasion of high-art by seditious mercantile Whig energies represented in a ceremony that threatens to set up the courts of kingdom of letters in the quarters of Grub street and Duncehood. Just as the birth of Jesus had been foreshadowed by the prophets of the Old Testament like Abraham or David, Shadwell had been pre-figured by such dramatists like Heywood and Shirley. They were popular, prolific, unsophisticated dramatists of the early 17 th cent. They were considered to be in bad taste by Dryden and the court. The value of these late Elizabethan dramatists grew in the next century but for Dryden they were accurate predecessors of Shadwell: Was but the prelude to that glorious day, When thou on silver Thames didst cut thy way, With well timd oars before the Royal Barge, Swelled with the Pride of thy Celestial charge; And, big with Hymn, commander of an Host. (ll. 37-41) The above lines contain an obscure allusion which recalls ( in parody) a scene in Edmund Wallers poem Of the Danger His Majesty (being Prince)Escaped in the Road at St. Anderes .Charles- II was reputed to have entertained guests on the water when the incident happened at St. Anderes in Spain and Dryden mocks the poet who had thought this a fitting subject for a poem. Dryden continues to mock Shadwell of the use of mechanical metrics in the songs of opera: St. Andres feet neer kept more equal time, Not evn the feet of thy own Psyches rhyme; Sir William Davenants opera The Siege of Rhodes is mentioned as is the popular play The Rehearsal . Two people wearing armour fight a mock battle on stage, sacrificing sense to sound. Drydens ideas of good comedy are seen in Fletcher and Jonson who would be afraid to appear on stage amidst the monument of vanisht minds . In preference now are farce writers like Thomas Decker from whom Shadwell is directly descended. His uncle is John Ogilby, feeble translator of Virgil and Homer and prolific author of original epics of dubious merit. Dryden feels that Henry Herringman who was the publisher of both Dryden and Shadwell until 1678 would be cheated if he extended financial credit to Shadwell in advance of his work. We can see how professional rivalry and money had entered the world of art. The Restoration comedy writers especially Etheredge is considered to be witty writer by Dryden but those like Shadwell, who simply copied them, are considered impotent and envious. Of Shadwells nine plays produced in 1678, five were dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of New Castle. This Northern part of England, Dryden equates to a freezing of sense. Dryden through MacFlecknoe answers the charge levelled at him in the prologue to The Rehearsal, Buckinghams burlesque play. Drydens dramatic techniques, satirized in the play are least much superior to the verbal tricks that Shadwell uses.

3. Importance of the first speech of Flecknoe in MacFlecknoe :

Drydens best known and most anthologized works are the political satires from the period after 1681. The two successive satires Absalom and Achitophel and The Medal were followed by MacFlecknoe. Whereas Absalom and Achitophjel is an elaborate and abusive defense of constitutional monarchy and a devastating political satire against Whiggism, MacFlecknoe concerns another kind of kingship. Here an inverted satirical typology of monarchy is applied to bad poetry to lampoon Drydens literary and political rival Shadwell. The tittle Macflecknoe initiates the theme of filial succession. The poem presents many father-son/ successor pairs; of God-Christ, Elijah-Elisha, Aeneas- Ascanius, Hamilcar-Hannibal, Flecknoe-MacFlecknoe. The matter of the succession of the state was hotly debated in contemporary politics and the vocabulary of politics provides a rich source of metaphor for literary discussion on MacFlecknoe. Dryden chooses Flecknoe as he was long regarded as the archetypal bad poet. Moreover, he was Irish. Richard Flecknoe (1620-1678)priest, poet and playwright was earlier lampooned by Andrew Marvell in Flecknoe,an English Priest at Rome. In comparing such a man to Augustus Caesar, the first Emperor of Rome, Dryden initiates the mock-heroic idiom. Also, Flecknoe is compared to Charles- II to add spice to the narrative. If Shadwell is son of Flecknoe he can only be an illegitimate heir because Flecknoe is a Catholic priest. Charles-IIs promiscuity is also hinted at here. Flecknoes first speech begins in line 13 when he has decided to appoint Shadwell as his successor to the throne of the kingdom of Dullness. Flecknoe is governed by nature. Neo-classical poetic theory constantly invoked the principle of Nature. For the Neo-classicists, nature was the ideal truth which should be followed in all spheres of life. Nature provided man with the ideas of decorum, design and order. Here Flecknoe feels that nature dictates him to choose Shadwell as his heir because Shadwell is a perfect image of Flecknoe as Christ was of God. The use of the mock-heroic is strengthened by the repeated use of oxymoronic juxtaposition, mature in dullness, and confirmed in full stupidity, deviates into sense. Shadwell is deprived of light. He has a head full of genuine night and rising fogs. This deprivation of light makes him unable to ever write good poetry. He is thus the best possible king for the kingdom of dullness. But as light is the primary attribute of God and Satan is the arch-agent of night, we embark upon another set of metaphors equating Shadwell to anti-Christ. The Monarch-oak image is one of the most powerful images of the poem. The oaks size and stateliness suit the mock-heroic purpose. The size of the oak is such that it obstructs light exactly as Shadwell does. Also traditionally the acorns of the oak were used to fatten swine, a hit at the audience and readers of Shadwell. Beyond the political metaphor is the literary and intertwined between the two is the equally powerful Christian metaphor. When Flecknoe says: Heywood and Shirley were but the types of thee He means prototypes or prefigurations. The Old Testament patriarchs (Abraham, Noah), judges or kings (Samon, David, Solomon) and prophets prefigure Christ who was their culmination. By this analogy, Flecknoe is the penultimate prophet that is John the Baptist. Therefore, Flecknoe must wear Norwich Drugget , a coarse fabric of wool and linen having its origin like Shadwell in Norfolk. It was also a fabric favored by poor struggling poets

Flecknoe, apart from being priest, poet and playwright played upon the lute. Shadwell too claimed proficiency in music. Along with their poetry their music is called to question in MacFlecknoe, because it is that is shrill and unrefined. There is reference to a glorious day in the life of Shadwell when he rode on a barge in the Thames with Charles-II. Whether factual or reality the expression Swelled with pride suggests an image of Satanic pride. Also the swelling along with the big with hymn in the next line builds up an image of pregnancy. The image continues throughout the poem culminating in lines: Success let others teach, learn thou from me Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry. Not only is Shadwell without masculine virility, he also lacks the womans power to procreate. He experiences labor pain but cannot give birth. There is, throughout MacFlecknoe a continuous reference to two of Shadwells plays Epsom Wells and The Virtuoso. Dryden relates the punishment of Sir Samuel Hearty in a farcical scene in The Virtuoso .There he was tossed in blanket . Dryden believes that such playwrights should be tossed in blankets themselves. The mock-heroic idiom resurfaces in comparing Shadwell to Arion, the legendary Greek musician(c.700 B.C.) who jumped overboard to escape the jealousy of his fellow sailors and who was saved by the dolphins. They were charmed by his music and carried him ashore. Dryden hopes the small little fishes of the Thames would be as charmed by Shadwells music. Shadwells music instead of creating a symphony produced a cacophonic effect. His treble squeaks and his bases roar. Moreover, his music is only to be heard in such scatologically effective places as Pissing Alley (normally used by people for urinating )and the hypothetical Aston Hall. Towards the end of his first speech, Flecknoe refers to his sons use of rhyme. Dryden believes that in Shadwells opera Psyche his meter is so perfect that it is mechanical. Unlike a good work of art, here sense is subservient to meter. The threshing rhyme is as equal and monotonous as the feat of St. Andre, a popular French dancing master. This metrical perfection, Dryden comments caused John Singleton one of the better royal musicians of the day, to become pale with envy. He decided that he would never more act as Villerius in Psyche. The speech ends with the syre shedding happy tears over his hopeful boy the massive 36 year old Shadwell. The stage is set for Shadwells coronation.


4. Importance of Christian and classical allusion in MacFlecknoe: OR The function of imagery In MacFlecknoe:
MacFlecknoe, a satire on dramatist Thomas Shadwell is believed to have been written by Dryden in 1676 or 1678. In an age rife with polemics Dryden had himself been at the receiving end of many vicious political,

literary and personal attacks some of which had issued from contemporaries with Whig associations and many more from fellow writers and critics. Thomas Shadwell, a playwright for the rival theatrical company, was a source of constant irritation to Dryden. He waged a war with Shadwell for some ten years before giving the world and posterity a ludicrous picture of his enemy as the newly crowned king of Dullness. In MacFlecknoe Dryden creates a relation of mock-epic incongruity. The incongruity lies in the difference between the true heroic and the pseudoheroic, between classical culture and contemporary letters, between the elevated domain of high art(residing in Parnassus)and the subcultural bylanes of Grub Street from where the suburban muse besieges the walls of ancient Augusta and prostitutes arts. The mock-heroic device of allusion in MacFlecknoe incorporates not only figures and echoes of other epics such as Virgils Aeneid, Miltons Paradise Lost and Cowleys Davideis but draws on a variety of other sources, classical and Christian, historical and legendary . Thus Shadwell is not only the young Ascanius, the founder emperor of Rome or Hannibal, a mortal foe to Rome. He is also a Christian Messiah with Flecknoe, his John the Baptist. Through the economies of a complex layering of metaphors and using heroic types of Biblical figure, Dryden builds a semi-mythical norm that operates through satiric inversion and ironic incongruity. In the first 30 lines of the poem the metaphor of monarchy is established by numerous phrases and sometime powerful images like that of the oak. The analogy between the kingdom of England and the kingdom of letters is one that Restoration writers favor. Dryden was a loyal supporter of monarchy and presents in Macflecnoe a king / patriarch, a proposed abdication, the question of succession, monarchic selfperpetuation in an heir , the exclusion of an unsuitable successor and a coronation. There are all the emblems of kingship, and even a usurpation motif in the trapdoor episode at the end. By imbuing the kingdom of letters with the value only a monarchy could fill, Drydens questions the status of an ale- house king whose hackwork may be a threat to the health of the kingdom. This is the kind of threat that Alexander Pope later visualized in the more elaborate mock-epic, the Dunciad which took seed in MacFlecknoe. It is typical of Dryden that when he chooses an image like the image of the Royal oak it should have layers of suggestion. The oak shades the plain and Shadwell creates fog and genuine night. The acorns of the majestic oaks were traditionally used to fatten swine. The oak was used for ship building of the powerful Royal Navy and more immediately it had saved Charles-IIs life in Boscobel. After the first thirty lines the image

of monarchy is allowed to develop more freely. Flecknoe gives his son the Bible of realm of nonsense. It is his own play Loves Kingdom: Loves kingdom to his right he did convey, At once his Sceptre and his rule of Sway; Whose righteous lore the Prince had practisd young And from whose Loyns recorded Psyche sprung.(ll.122-125) In four lines a lot is said. Loves Kingdom is the scepter which marks the travesty of a coronation. The kingdom he is supposed to rule over is the kingdom of love. It is a riotous lore, the Bible of idiotic dullness. The prince had practiced love, that is he had numerous affairs while young .The child of such union is Psyche and we can see how the monarchical image feeds into a literary one. Similarly, the religious metaphor though less obvious than the monarchical and literary one is allowed to inform and enrich the other metaphors of the poem: The king himself the sacred Unction made, As king by office, and as Priest by Trade;(ll.118-119) Flecknoe is king by office, the kingdom, we know, is literature. Surprisingly he also is a priest by trade- he was said to be a Roman Catholic priest. Dryden refers to the unction ceremony still used during the coronation and modeled on the Biblical precedent of the anointing of Saul by Samuel. The second passage doesnt explicitly concern monarchy: For Bruce and Longvil had a trap Prepard, And down they sent the yet declining Bard. Sinking he lift his Drugget robe behind, Borne upwards by a subterranean wind. The Mantel fell to the young Prophets part With double portion of his Fathers Art.(ll.212-217) Once again there is a Biblical allusion to Elijahs ascension into heaven and to Elishas inheriting his mantel. This awesome incident is rendered ridiculous by recalling Shadwells stage management in the Virtuoso III. The awe, rendered to absurdity, is changed further into irony when we recognize the allusion of Cowleys poem On the Death of Crashaw. Elijahs rising and Shadwells formal sinking, Crashaw and the proud king Flecknoe merged on the one side just as Elisha, Bruce and Longvil, Cowley and MacFlecknoe-Shadwell do on the other. MacFlecknoe is luckier because he is two times more the artist than Flecknoe, two times dull and four times curst. When Dryden talks of types: Heywood and Shirley were but Types of thee, Thou last great prophet of Tautology.(ll.29-30)

literature similarly enters into the religious context and the dominant image of monarchy is also involved. The last great prophet in the Bible is Christ of whom there were several Old Testament types (Adam, David and the others). Here Flecknoe is John the Baptist making his son a Christ or rather an anti-Christ. Lastly special mention must be made of the literary allusions in MacFlecknoe. Apart from Cowleys Davideis we have clear echoes of Virgil and Milton and they fuse into a whole as part of the three controlling metaphors of art, monarchy and religion: The Syre then shook the honours of hid head, And from his browns damps of oblivion shed Full on the filial dullness: long he stood Repelling from his Breast the raging God;(ll.134-137) The primary allusion of the passage is that it is parody of Virgils description of the Cumaean Sybils foretelling the future dimensions of the Roman Empire in Aeneid-IV. But another allusion is involved: He said and on his son with rays direct Direct shone full, he all his Father is full expressed Ineffably into his face receivd, And thus the filial Godhead answering spake.(ll.719-722, Paradise Lost,Book-VI) Dryden does not merely replay the rhythm of Miltons passage but imbues the spirit of Milton. That depth strengthens the metaphor by extending the allusion from religious to classical and Christian form, the monarchic to the rule of Aeneas and the Christ and the literary to embrace the Aeneid and the Paradise Lost. The depth is also evaluative; the invocation of such metaphors is a war of dismissing Flecknoe and son. The three controlling metaphor of the poemart , monarchy and religious exchange their roles throughout the poem as subject figures and values. The metaphor of art is particularly important as subject, because satire focuses chiefly on literature. The metaphor of religion is important for evaluation because it controls our response to the element introduced in the poem. Monarchy, Dryden feels, gives an essential structure to the poem just as a stable king gives structure to the society.