John Dryden Paper

This essay has a total of 859 words and 5 pages.

John Dryden

Quarrel of the Moderns and the Ancients

"Those beauties of the French poesy are such as will raise perfection higher where it is,
but are not sufficient to give it where it is not: they are indeed the beauties of a
statue but not of a man" (Poesy Abridged). Dryden wrote this essay as a dramatic dialogue
with four characters representing four critical positions. The four critical positions are
ancients verses moderns, unities, French verses English drama, separation of tragedy and
comedy verses tragicomedy and appropriateness of rhyme in drama (Brysons). Neander is in
favor of the moderns but he respects the ancients, he also favors English drama while
having critical views towards French drama. In "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy" Dryden used
character to represent four critical positions, but he cleverly disguised himself as one
of them Throughout Dryden's "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy" Neander is believed to represent
Dryden's point of view on the different critical issues discussed.

Living from 1631 to 1700 John Dryden was the leading literary figure of the Restoration
("John Dryden" Encarta). Dryden was an accomplished poet, playwright and critic. Speaking
English, Latin and Greek Dryden was also a successful translator. Writing "Heroic
Stanzas," a poem commemorating the death of Cromwell, Dryden secured a place in London's
literary circles. After converting to Christianity under the Christian rule of James II,
Dryden was appointed poet laureate where he later lost the title under the Protestant rule
of William and


Mary (Selected Poetry). John Dryden was a neoclassic critic who's criticisms deal with
issues of form and morality in drama (Brysons).

Discussing four critical positions in his essay "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy" Dryden uses
four characters: Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius, and Neander. Neander is believed to portray
the beliefs of Dryden while Lisideius and Crites are believed to have the reciprocal
beliefs. Eugenius shares the view of favoring the moderns over the ancients, but the essay
does not discuss whether Eugenius also shares Neander's views on French and English drama
(Brysons). In his essay, Dryden writes very positively of Shakespeare who was a modern
English dramatist:

TO BEGIN, THEN, WITH SHAKESPEARE.
He was the man who, of all the modern and per-
haps ancient poets, had the largest and most
comprehensive soul. All the images of nature
were still present to him, and he drew them,
not laboriously, but luckily; when he
describes anything, you more than see it, you
feel it, too. (Literature- The Reader's Choice 507)
Dryden then goes on to talk about the superiority of the English language used in their plays:
Continues for 3 more pages >>