Dryden essay on satire

Dryden is believed to be the first person to posit that English sentences should not end in prepositions because Latin sentences cannot end in prepositions. [23] [24] Dryden created the proscription against preposition stranding in 1672 when he objected to Ben Jonson 's 1611 phrase, "the bodies that those souls were frighted from", though he did not provide the rationale for his preference. [25] Dryden often translated his writing into Latin, to check whether his writing was concise and elegant, Latin being considered an elegant and long-lived language with which to compare; then Dryden translated his writing back to English according to Latin-grammar usage. As Latin does not have sentences ending in prepositions, Dryden may have applied Latin grammar to English, thus forming the rule of no sentence-ending prepositions, subsequently adopted by other writers. [26]

The poem grew out of a longstanding debate that Dryden and Shadwell had over the nature of comedy. During the Restoration, Shadwell was considered a playwright of considerable brilliance, but Dryden did not agree with this assessment. In Dryden’s opinion, Shadwell was a subpar poet and dramatist who believed much too highly of himself. Dryden uses Mac Flacknoe to point this out, highlighting throughout the satire the ridiculousness of Shadwell’s self-indulgence. With regards to the dueling poets’ thoughts on humor, the satire serves as a defense of wit against humor, which Dryden believed to be a much more noble and intelligent form of comedy. Shadwell was a proponent of the “Comedy of Humors,” a genre of comedy that was popularized by Ben Johnson toward the end of the sixteenth century. The comic interest in this genre revolves around the exhibition of a character or characters whose conduct is controlled by one characteristic or “humor.” Some single psychophysiological characteristic or exaggerated trait give the important figures in the action a bias of disposition and supply the chief motive for their actions. Dryden thought these plays were unintelligent and stale. He preferred the “Comedy of Wit,” in which reason is stressed over emotion. These comedies were more concerned with demonstrating cleverness and generally took a detached stance on others’ concerns, rather than sympathizing with their conditions.

Dryden essay on satire

dryden essay on satire

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