End-stopped , end-rhymed , and about as heroic as it gets, the poem, written in iambic pentameter , takes on a rolling, dramatic quality. Think Chaucer. Think Shakespeare. Think epic. Dryden also employs the lofty, sometimes melodramatic diction one might expect of a grandiose epic of gods and kings.
|Published (Last):||26 October 2017|
|PDF File Size:||6.20 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||8.87 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
The poet introduces Flecknoe, who like the Roman ruler Augustus , was called to rule when he was young. He rules the peaceful realm of Nonsense now, but is growing old and decides that Fate wants him to settle the business of the State. Flecknoe ponders which of his sons should succeed him in warring eternally with wit.
It will be the one who resembles him most: Shadwell, who even while young in years is mature in dullness. As for Flecknoe, he admits he is just a dunce who paved the way for Shadwell. When he warbled with his lute for King John I of Portugal, he was merely preluding the day when Shadwell would sail down the river Thames, puffed up and proud with his royal task. There has never been his like — it is as if a new Arion is sailing. Little fishes surround the boat, clamoring as they would on morning toast.
Like tautology they collapsed. The jealous Singleton forswears his lute and sword, and will never act like Villerius again. Flecknoe stops talking for a moment. Lines Near the walls of London called Augusta there once stood a barbican and a watch tower, but now it is just a pile of ruins.
There are brothel houses that rise from the rubble; mother-strumpets keep court there. Great Fletcher will not wear his boots here, and neither will Jonson in his socks.
Nations hearing of him meet together. Writers like Heywood, Shirley, and Ogleby lay in the street, but it is mostly Shadwell that clogs it up. Finally, the prince appears in all his majesty, sitting atop a throne of his labors.
Shadwell swears he will maintain dullness until his death. He will never make peace with wit and never sign a truce with sense. The admiring crowd shouts acclamations. Lines Flecknoe, his forehead dewy with oblivion, shakes his head and scatters the drops on his son. Let the others, like George who treads the stage, and his characters Dorimant, Cully, Fopling, and Cockwood, try to charm audiences. The others should try to imitate him and thus be not mere copies but his own issue. All the men of wit ought to be full of Shadwell, only differing in name.
Jonson never rails at wit he does not understand, does not have a Prince Nikander or a Psyche, or promise a play and give a farce instead. On oily water he floats while Shadwell sinks. Flecknoe exhorts his son to remember that this is his place, his way; he gets to add new humors to his plays and indulge in dullness. Shadwell may be a large, bulky man with a huge belly, but his plays never bite or offend. Even though his heart may have venom, it dies the moment it touches his Irish pen.
He should not, Flecknoe counsels, worry about plays; instead, he should focus on acrostics. In those he can be famous and torture words in thousands of ways. If not those, then perhaps songs set to a lute. Taking for his target Thomas Shadwell, Dryden creates a mock-heroic poem utterly permeated with satire and wit. Flecknoe is a satire and is written in a heroic style. The language is high and flowery, there are long similes and grand metaphors, the setting and references to kings and emperors and heroes are epic, and there are multiple comparisons to ancient Greece and Rome.
Critic John R. It is shaped with a series of ludicrous events, none of which ever mature to fruition or climax. Placing literary dunces within the exalted context of a coronation ceremony and dignifying the event with comparisons to religious prophets and allusions to the Roman Empire at its zenith serve to deflate the satiric victims by drawing attention to the differences between the exalted and the lowly.
The satire achieves a devastating attack on Shadwell and other poets through an ironic inversion of values. Mac Flecknoe is very much rooted in its time and place in that Dryden references many contemporary poets, playwrights, and other literary figures see Characters for a complete list. However, as scholar Michael West reveals, the poem is also representative of several strains of Continental literature. Dryden, like other literary lights, would have been saturated in the trends of his day. Later, Flecknoe is compared to Elijah the prophet.
Let us now turn to the poem in more specific detail, utilizing the line breakdowns from the summary these are somewhat arbitrary in that the poem is not naturally broken in all these places, but they are useful in making the work more manageable. In lines , Dryden evokes Augustus, the founder of the Roman empire, in order to falsely convey to the reader that the poem will take for its subject someone literally august and worthy of veneration Augusta will be London in the poem.
However, he then identifies the place over which the ruler presides: the realm of Nonsense. In lines , Flecknoe compares his son to other minor poets: Heywood and Shirley. Flecknoe depicts himself as a coarsely clad figure with a lute heralding the coming of his son.
His father compares him to Arion, an ancient Greek poet and musician who jumped overboard after hearing of a plot to kill him but was saved by dolphins. Dryden also calls attention to contemporary places, as Pissing-Alley actually numerous sites in London , and Aston Hall, which is not definitively identified but is assumed to be a place important to Dryden.
In lines 93, Flecknoe describes the part of town where the coronation will take place. It is near the Barbican, a defensive wall in London that surrounds a ruined Roman watchtower, and is in a notorious neighborhood filled with prostitutes and subpar actors.
According to Flecknoe, the great dramatists do not come here, especially not Fletcher in his buskins buskins were the high boots worn by actors in Greek and Roman tragedies; thus, there are no great tragedies performed here. This is a place where low drama thrives; it is a place for simpkins clowns and clinches puns. Scholars explain that such imagery allows continuous contrast between the glorified past and a debased present. The twelve owls at the end of the section refer to stupidity, as wisdom is fleeing the site.
Flecknoe winds up his lengthy speech with comments about writing itself. He is pleased that Shadwell will be duller than him and advises him not to even try to be dull; rather, just trust in his natural proclivities. He should also not bother to write plays or high literary forms and instead focus on the lesser forms like acrostics, anagrams, and songs.
A wind it is unknown if it is normal wind, flatulence, or a draft from Hell pushes up his cloak, which then adorns his son. There a few general points with which we can conclude our analysis. The first is that through criticizing Shadwell, Dryden promulgates certain things that, in his opinion, make good art. He does not approve of how Shadwell conflates the creator and the created, how his characters are mere self-portraits, how Shadwell prefers comedy and the humors to real drama.
Similarly, Margery Kingsley notes how the stage and brothels are conflated by their physical proximity, how there seems to be a Hell below the Restoration-era stage. The area of London Shadwell presides over is ruins of a greater civilization; the people who acclaim him are tawdry and self-absorbed.
Mac Flecknoe Summary
His work was ridiculed by Dryden as well as poet Andrew Marvell He chooses Shadwell because he is the most like him; he is dull and devoid of wit and sense. At the end of the poem, he drops below the stage and Shadwell assumes his mantle. Shadwell was an English dramatist and poet laureate. In Mac Flecknoe, Dryden casts him as the heir of the fictional "Kingdom of Nonsense," which is presided over by Flecknoe.
Mac Flecknoe Character List
Mac Flecknoe is both a personal and literary satire. Dryden presents Shadwell as a dull poetaster, a corpulent man and a plagiarist. He decided to avenge himself on Shadwell and Dryden fully revenged himself by the publication of Mac Flecknoe in Mac Flecknoe is the first substantial mock-heroic poem and Thomas Shadwell is the hero of this epic. The name of his kingdom is Nonsense.
They were both quite successful and well respected. One thing led to another, however, and they soon found themselves embroiled in some serious beef. One day, the writer by the name of John Dryden decided to up the ante. Dryden completely skewers Shadwell, exposing him for what he was: a bad writer with bad taste, who would do anything for the cheap laugh.