An Essay Of Dramatic Poesy Analysis

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2. Dryden’s Opinions about Plays in His Essay “An Essay of Dramatic Poesy”: Then came the Renaissance period in the mid sixteenth to seventeenth century and the playwrights of this period also tried to follow these set of rules but always had the lack of one component or the other. In the essay “An Essay of Dramatic Poesy” Dryden claimed that “conceived a play ought to be, A just and lively image of human nature, representing its passions and humours” (Dryden 92) which means a drama has to be just and lively and it must represent the true picture of human nature. In this essay Dryden also talked about the famous rule of the unities which are needed to make a play more just, lively and credible. He wrote “The Three Unities which ought to be…show more content…
In “Preface to Shakespeare” Samuel Johnson praised Shakespeare by saying that “Shakespeare is above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life” (187) and his work represents the true “general nature” (187) of reality and this makes him superior to other writers. In this essay he showed how Shakespeare has maintained and also neglected the conventions of unities drawn by the ancients. Johnson said that Shakespeare has “well enough preserved the unity of action” (Johnson 199) but “To the unities of time and place he has shown no regard” (Johnson 200). According to him Shakespeare has maintained the qualities that Aristotle requires in terms of unity of action which is “a beginning, a middle and an end” (200). Johnson defends Shakespeare’s neglecting of the unities by saying that Unity of place and time were needed to make a “drama credible” (200). So, if the first scene of a drama is in Alexandria and the second one is in Rome, then the audience might question the credibility of the drama but for a spectator who knows that the battle scene or the love story he is watching is not original, it’s just a replica of the original events then the unity of time or place does not matter, if the representation is good. When the spectator walks to the theatres, he is…show more content…
His plays are not entirely based on tragedy or comedy but he has mixed the “comic and tragic scenes, as it extends to all his works” (191). Through this he has showed the just picture of life and it is more natural than mere tragedy or comedy and therefore his “drama is the mirror of life” (190). About Shakespeare’s tragi-comedy Stephen Orgel has said in his article “Shakespeare and the Kinds of Drama” that “The comic and tragic scenes are both cityscapes, two versions of the same society, two views of the same world” (118). Another thing which Johnson has pointed out is that all Shakespeare’s plays have “seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes levity and laughter” (192) and probably that is why it is very hard to classify his dramas. So according to Johnson, to identify what kind of play it is we have to see how it had ended; so, if it had ended “happily to the principle persons, however serious or distressful thought its intermediate incidents, in their opinion, constituted a comedy” (193) and tragedy only “required only a calamitous conclusion” (193) and history was a serious of action “without any tendency to introduce or regulate the conclusion” (193). So, according to Johnson Shakespeare’s plays prove that he was a true “genius”

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