Macflecknoe Killing Us Softly With His Verse English Literature Essay

John Dryden ‘s mock-heroic MacFlecknoe ( 1676 ) ridicules the “ True-Blue-Protestant Poet ” Thomas Shadwell, who was a former co-worker and subsequently a indurate literary challenger of Dryden, through the words of late seventeenth-century Irish poet, Richard Flecknoe. In fact, during Dryden ‘s epoch, Flecknoe became a name used synonymously with composing inferior poesy, and Shadwell, who represents “ Mac ” ( the boy of ) Flecknoe [ MacFlecknoe ] , as Dryden ‘s sarcasm shows, is another name used to signal the authorship of second-rate poesy. Critics find it hard to indicate to a day of the month or an juncture that triggered the struggle between Dryden and Shadwell. Some consider Dryden ‘s parody of Shadwell as stemming from Shadwell ‘s barbarian onslaught on Dryden in his Medal of John Bayes while others claim that political and literary differences kindled the onslaughts. For case, Shadwell was a loyal Whig, who favored the comedies of temper and pragmatism while Dryden was a acute Tory and preferred the comedies of humor and powerful imaginativeness. On the surface, Dryden ‘s sarcasm captures the kernel of humor, imaginativeness, and manner through his inventiveness and usage of high and low enunciation. Indeed, MacFlecknoe entertains as it criticizes on several degrees. This is first seen in Dryden ‘s important lingua in cheek rejoinder to Shadwell, as Flecknoe ‘s inheritor, in which MacFlecknoe is crowned king of such an award, and secondly, through Dryden ‘s desperate critical response about the significance of MacFlecknoe ‘s kingship non merely within a societal context but besides about its literary chances.

The gap comment from the talker in MacFlecknoe sets the amusing tone to come throughout the poetry, yet it besides offers an drawn-out warning about the dangers of art within the political clime of Dryden ‘s clip and those over the skyline: “ All human things are capable to disintegrate, / And, when destiny biddings, sovereigns must obey ; ” ( 1-2 ) . Decay here is the male monarch of “ Nonsense, ” Flecknoe, whose land and regulation, marshaled by composing bad poesy, is nearing its terminal ( 6 ) . Furthermore, Flecknoe ‘s hunt for the proper inheritor to regulate his monarchy of obtuseness is found merely in the 1 who “ resembles ” his ( Flecknoe ‘s ) “ perfect image ” and is “ [ m ] ature in obtuseness ” ( 14-16 ) , and it is Shadwell who is the prince of Flecknoe ‘s oculus – the future male monarch of inferior authorship who will do the state ‘s eyes H2O and ears call since his work and organic structure “ stands confirmed in full stupidity ” ( 18 ) .

However, Dryden ‘s position of Shadwell, while composing his sarcasm, suggests that Shadwell was already entrenched in his reign of stupidity, as the talker throughout this verse form does non shy away from knocking Shadwell ‘s ain work and offspring characters such as, Epsom Walls and The Virtuoso with Raymond and Trifle severally. Dryden ‘s mock-epic history shows treasures of sarcasm while he ushers in the “ new ” bad poet to his throne ; he presents stiff commentary about the ever-changing nature of literature and art within a fallen London. The Biblical allusions Flecknoe makes farther widen Dryden ‘s literary impression that his society is traveling off from its literary extremum established in Augustan Rome. In fact, the bad poets of the last age, for illustration, Heywood, Shirley, Dekker, and Ogilby, are simply Old Testament “ types ” ( 29 ) of the true Christ or in Shadwell ‘s instance the “ last great prophesier of tautology ” ( 30 ) where even Flecknoe ‘s regulation was merely a impermanent province used as a vehicle “ to fix [ MacFlecknoe/Shadwell ‘s ] manner, ” so MacFlecknoe can recognize his state and its corporate head with an epoch of obtuseness ( 31 ) .

The enthronement location Flecknoe selects to coronate MacFlecknoe as king non merely describes Dryden ‘s frights of the political and literary decay his metropolis and society is confronting but besides displays the dirt and faecal affair to which Dryden lessens Shadwell: “ Martyrs of pies and relics of the rotter. / Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogilby there ballad, / But tonss of sh — — about choked the manner ” ( 101-103 ) . It is out of this faecal affair and the hemorrhoids of cheapjack poesy that Flecknoe erects MacFlecknoe ‘s throne in which it is surrounded by “ brothel-houses ” where “ [ s ] cenes of lewd loves and of contaminated joys ” fill the streets and portion with the “ infant punks ” ( cocottes ) their stamp voices try ” ( 70-77 ) .

The location Flecknoe chooses is Barbican, an old Roman watchtower that surrounds the old London metropolis, and it has been in decay since the environing vicinities opened their streets to inferior and cheapened signifiers of amusement. Shadwell ‘s nearing reign of inferior creativeness adds to the metropolis ‘s crud and its anxiousness: “ Near to the walls just Augusta bind / ( The carnival Augusta much to frights inclined ) ” ( 64-65 ) . The frights Augusta faces are similar to Dryden ‘s London: the political convulsion and menaces of the Earl of Shaftesbury and the Popish Plot, a secret plan where Catholics would slay Charles II and topographic point James I on the throne ; and the thought that Dryden ‘s society is openly encompassing the amusements of degeneracy and the cheaper literary civilizations of the clip alternatively of hankering for the lost literary vertex of London ‘s historic yesteryear.

This longing for the literary high quality of the yesteryear is farther compounded when Flecknoe crowns MacFlecknoe the legitimate male monarch of obtuseness where Shadwell “ [ swears ] . . . ./ [ T ] hat he till decease true obtuseness would keep ” ( 114-15 ) . Flecknoe farther offers his new male monarch advice about how to govern his new province in which the advice comes off as a paternal homework talk to a boy: “ My boy, progress / Still in new cheek, new ignorance. / Success Lashkar-e-Taiba others teach ; learn 1000 from me ” ( 145-47 ) . The message here is for MacFlecknoe to do his fictional male parent and former male monarch proud by go oning the reign of stuff and obtuseness throughout the land. In fact, Flecknoe wants Shadwell non to allow “ false friends ( like Ben Jonson ) seduce [ his ] head to fame, ” non to mime the art of Jonson, but to portion, by relation, Flecknoe ‘s nature ( 171 ) .

As Flecknoe ‘s boring address stopping points, he tells MacFleckoe to abandon poesy and play, so he can concentrate his ennui in anagrams. Resembling one of Shadwell ‘s lifeless characters in Virtuosos ( Sir Formal ) , Flecknoe falls through a trapdoor that invokes another Biblical allusion of the prophesier Elijah whose mantle descends from heaven onto Elisha. Yet here, Flecknoe is portraying Elijah who does non fall from the celestial spheres but falls below, doing his mantle and Crown to lift high in the air on top of the caput of the Elisha-MacFlecknoe ; therefore, finishing the enthronement of MacFlecknoe/Shadwell as the true male monarch of tasteless art. The declaration at the terminal of Dryden ‘s sarcasm, if there is one, is that Dryden eventually had his opportunity to mock and show some payback to Shadwell ‘s barbarian onslaughts that were made on him. It is unsure whether this mock-heroic verse form ended the conflict of abuses between both poets.

However, the major declaration remainders in Dryden ‘s attitude towards the nature of art and its topographic point in the society of his twenty-four hours. The sarcasm is humourous throughout, and Dryden ne’er loses his poise while taking shootings at the alleged, at least in his head, male monarch of obtuseness, Thomas Shadwell. Still, Dryden ‘s major struggle is embedded through his humor and sarcasm, and I believe Dryden positions his current society ‘s gustatory sensation in art and literature to be inferior to what the literary scene of London one time was. Furthermore, the crowning of Shadwell/MacFlecknoe as London ‘s new poet laureate, a rubric stripped from Dryden and handed over to Shadwell ( out of political/religious instead than originative grounds ) farther enforced in Dryden ‘s head that London was falling deeper into corruptness. London and its society, hence, is crumpling before Dryden ‘s eyes and his pen can offer advice and heed off warnings for merely those willing to read and listen: one can non reconstruct society ‘s values in superior art and literature by one ‘s ego. Unfortunately, it takes many persons, and even so it depends on the individual ( as an creative person ) , as is the instance with Jonathan Swift.

Swift ‘s Description of London ‘s Society

Jonathan Swift ‘s urban bucolic A Description of the Morning was foremost published in his friend ‘s – Richard Steele – literary paper, the Tatler, on April 30, 1709. During the clip Swift published his verse form, there was moderate political and spiritual turbulency, every bit far as readers can see from his verse form. Still, like Dryden ‘s MacFlecknoe, some thirty-years before, Swift ‘s Description is a satiric poetry that does non deride a specific individual, as Dryden ‘s intervention of Thomas Shadwell does, but his verse form does mocks single, everyday characters within London ‘s society. Indeed, unlike Dryden ‘s sarcasm, Swift ‘s sarcasm offers his readers scenes of pictural feelings of London society without expressing a individual subjective remark ; alternatively, Swift presents a series of nonsubjective snapshots for his audience to see when they arrive at the decisions that Swift ‘s image convey to them. Swift, nevertheless, does expose lampoons of traditional Augustan literature such as the “ Hackney -Coach ” and the female retainer “ Betty, ” where the latter symbolizes the morning goddess – Aurora – and the former represents the chariot of the Sun ( 1, 3 ) .

The scene of his urban sarcasm is at morning, and the snapshots he provides include different persons throughout London ‘s society. In fact, the first image captures the amah, Betty, in an immoral act that suggests some sexual activity has happened the old dark between her and her maestro: “ . . . from her Master ‘s Bed had flown, / And quietly stole to upset her ain ” ( 3-4 ) . As if this image of the guilty retainer were non bad plenty, Swift has Betty leap up with the interruption of morning to tousle the sheets of her ain bed as a manner to dissemble her wickedness. This image and its ensuing significance is what Swift wants to enforce upon the memories of his viewing audiences. Furthermore, the following snapshots are at the same time taken, possibly, from a revolving camera. The maestro ‘s “ Prentice, ” his other housecleaner “ Moll, ” and the “ Young person ” are shown either get downing a undertaking or, in the learner ‘s instance, making more work to make since his efforts to clean the floor are feebly done. Further snapshots display the calls of the “ Chimney-sweep, ” who were immature male childs exposed to London ‘s hideous worlds of working long, insecure hours and executing awful responsibilities at a immature age.

Swift ‘s camera is non restricted to the indoors, the interiors of London ‘s society ; his camera takes us on a photographic journey outside to the London streets he and his audience would hold known. “ Duns, ” who were debt aggregators, wait patiently outside an blue blood ‘s house to have payment ( 12 ) . It is at this point, where Swift ‘s image of London ‘s society becomes black since the low and middle-class have to get down their undertakings much earlier than those of lazy luxury do if they are to last in this society. This image becomes clearer from the description of “ Brick-dust Moll ” whose shrieks echo the London streets ( 14 ) . Now, the image of Swift ‘s 2nd Moll is non the same individual mentioned earlier. “ Brick-dust Moll ” is non a housecleaner in the general sense, but she is a working amah of the streets, a cocotte, of London ‘s underworld red-light territory. Even the “ Turn-key ” and the alleged “ alert Bailiffs, ” whose shifts terminal as the forenoon interruptions, are morally corrupted because they allow felons to roll the foul streets under a moonlit sky merely to divide their stolen awards with those in charge once the forenoon Sun rises ( 15, 17 ) .

Although Swift wrote this sarcasm, it is objectively Swift-less. Swift ‘s bird’s-eye position is no uncertainty his, yet his sarcasm is tame compared to Dryden ‘s and Pope ‘s, as we will see. The snapshots he takes of London ‘s fallen society are what readers see from Swift ‘s lens ; however, Swift does non go through judgement on the fallen even though he believes London ‘s society needed a extremist Restoration. He allows his readers to do their ain judgements on what the feelings in the text create in the head ; something Alexander Pope does with speed.

Invasion of Human Vanity

Alexander Pope ‘s mock-heroic The Rape of the Lock ( 1717 ) takes a historical incident witnessed by his friend, John Caryll, and immortalizes the trifles behind such an incident in his poetry. The incident Caryll encourages Pope to compose approximately was a household feud that stemmed when Lord Robert Petre, who represents the Baron in Pope ‘s poetry, snipped off a long coil of Arabella Fermor ‘s hair, which represents Pope ‘s heroine Belinda. Furthermore, Pope ‘s first purpose for composing his sarcasm was to convey the two feuding households back together through the satirical and fiddling events that were based on existent life occurrences. Now, it is non clear whether Pope was successful in repairing the two households back with laughter ; nevertheless, a austere commentary about London ‘s eighteenth-century society bubbles to the surface with each passing canto.

With Pope ‘s versions of traditional heroic conventions such as the supplication and dedication of the Muse, John Caryll ( canto I ) , the defensive Gods, the Sylphs and sexual fable ( canto II ) , the games and banquet that symbolizes heroic conflicts ( canto III ) , the dip to the underworld of Spleen ( canto IV ) , and eventually the epic conflict of the sexes ( canto V ) , he brings to visible radiation, by assorted comparings, society ‘s captivation with fiddling rules alternatively of its morally important 1s. What surfaces as Pope ‘s major struggle throughout his satirical poetry is non to be taken lightly, but to be examined with a serious oculus, and that is his position of the amour propres within London ‘s society. In fact, Pope believed his current society to be falling deeper into its morally corrupted grave since most citizens, particularly adult females, upheld their physical visual aspect above everything else, and work forces were disorderly animals who sought sexual victory as morally respectable efforts. This impression is magnified once the Baron snips a individual lock from Belinda ‘s lovely caput: “ The meeting points the sacred hair dissever / From the just caput, for of all time, and for of all time! ” ( III. 153-54 ) .

It is after the verse form flood tide that fiddling human amour propre, particularly as it concerns Belinda ‘s physical beauty and public repute, overshadows important moral ideals. In fact, Belinda ‘s friend, Thalestris, tells her to believe about the public branchings of the Baron non merely cutting her lock but besides showcasing it as a award that non merely disfigures her outward visual aspect but besides her public award: “ Methinks already I your cryings study, / Already hear the horrid things they say, . . . . / And all your honor in susurration doomed! ” ( IV. 107-10 ) . Furthermore, Belinda adds that her ain amour propre in the public oculus is more of import than her moral celibacy in the face of faith: “ Oh hadst 1000, cruel! been content to prehend / Hairs less in sight ” ( IV. 175-76 ) . Belinda ‘s allusion to her “ [ H ] airs less in sight ” suggests that she would much instead have the Baron see or nip off her pubic hair than the losing beautiful lock that her public can see. In other words, Belinda would instead put on the line a misdemeanor to her celibacy than breach her outward visual aspect, and it is here where Pope views the backward moral ideals of London society.

Pope ‘s message is farther extended in the concluding canto and is literally put in the oral cavity of Clarissa, whose cameo visual aspect in canto III ab initio helped the Baron cut Belinda ‘s coil because it was she who handed him the scissors to make the title, yet readers have trouble accepting the message because of her earlier action: “ But since, alas! frail beauty must disintegrate, / Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to gray ; . . . . / What remains but good our power to utilize, / And maintain good-humour still whate’er we lose? ( V. 25-30 ) .

Clarissa ‘s address, here, is possibly Pope ‘s alleged lesson of his mock-epic, where human amour propre is ever-so fliting with the custodies of clip with the fiddling and the everyday things, like a lock of hair. For, in the terminal, nature will allow Belinda, as it did Arabella, with a healthy coil. Petty issues should non over extended their welcome within society since the message that Dryden, Swift, and Pope tried to uncover on their readers, severally, was that London ‘s society, their society, should take a long expression in the mirror and restore, if possible, the moral values traditionally held in Augustan Rome, the values one time held by their metropolis that were now merely found sloping Forth from their pens and shouting out on their pages.

July 22, 2017