Such a work uses the elevated style of the classical epic poem such as The Iliad to satirize human follies. A mock epic pretends that a person, a place, a thing, or an idea is extraordinary when — in the author's view — it is actually insignificant and trivial. For example, a mock epic about an inconsequential U. In writing "Mac Flecknoe," John Dryden imitated not only the characteristics of Homer's epics but also those of later writers such as Virgil , Dante , and Milton. Jacob Tonson published an edited and authorized copy of the poem in London in as part of a Dryden collection entitled Miscellany Poems. Dryden and Shadwell.
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Shadwell is the worst writer in all the land, and thus, the perfect man for the job. Upon arriving in the city of August a. London , Shadwell is crowned king of the realm of nonsense. Mac Flecknoe himself delivers a brief speech on his son's merits or lack thereof during the coronation.
At this point all the action pretty much stops, as the poem devolves into a thinly-veiled, full-force condemnation of Shadwell's writing and character by the speaker. In the end, crowned and ready to rule in his father's footsteps, Shadwell is poised to sink poetry to an even lower level. Study Guide. By John Dryden. Mac Flecknoe Summary Mac Flecknoe is the poet-king of the realm of nonsense. Subtitle-Line
Dryden's Mac Flecknoe: Summary & Analysis
It is a direct attack on Thomas Shadwell , another prominent poet of the time. It opens with the lines:. All humane things are subject to decay, And, when Fate summons, Monarchs must obey: . Written about , but not published until see in poetry , "Mac Flecknoe" is the outcome of a series of disagreements between Thomas Shadwell and Dryden. Their quarrel blossomed from the following disagreements: "1 their different estimates of the genius of Ben Jonson , 2 the preference of Dryden for comedy of wit and repartee and of Shadwell, the chief disciple of Jonson, for humors comedy, 3 a sharp disagreement over the true purpose of comedy, 4 contention over the value of rhymed plays, and 5 plagiarism.
Mac Flecknoe by John Dryden: Summary
The first line of the poem creates the illusion of its being an epic poem about a historical hero. The next lines talk about Mac Flecknoe , a monarch who instead of ruling an empire, rules over the realm of Nonsense. The king is old and thus must choose a successor to his throne. Dryden wonders whether the king will chose a poet who has talent and wit or if he will choose someone like him, a man with no literary talent. Flecknoe decides upon his son Shadwell, a man with no talent and who is tedious, stupid, and always at war with wit. Shadwell is also described as a very corpulent man.
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