MAC FLECKNOE SUMMARY PDF

After many years as ruler, however, it comes time for him to step down. Ultimately, he chooses his son Thomas Shadwell, a poet of unparalleled dreadfulness, as his successor. 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.

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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.

Inside those places, real drama does not exist; only simple plays are welcome. It is clear that in this environment, Shadwell will rule over those who have no literary talent. The descriptions Dryden offers only serve the purpose of highlighting the incompetency of Shadwell and create the image of a fool ruling over peasants.

As the coronation begins, Dryden describes the streets as filled with the limbs of other poets, suggesting that Shadwell managed to get a hold on his position at the expense of talented writers. After the crown is placed on his head, Shadwell sits on the throne and the former king prepares to give the cheering crowd a speech. The former king begins by presenting the land over which the new king will rule, a territory where no one lives.

Flecknoe urges his son to remain true to his writing and to not let anyone make any changes in his work. Flecknoe concludes by exhorting his son not to focus on real plays but rather to work on acrostics or anagrams.

His last words are cut off and he sinks below the stage.

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Mac Flecknoe Summary and Analysis of Mac Flecknoe

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. Inside those places, real drama does not exist; only simple plays are welcome.

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Mac Flecknoe

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. He was pretty well-known in his day, an important, albeit minor, figure in the English Restoration literary scene. How does Dryden achieve this razor-sharp, devastating effect, you might wonder?

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Dryden's Mac Flecknoe: Summary & Analysis

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.

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Mac Flecknoe Summary

It is a direct attack on Thomas Shadwell , another prominent poet of the time. 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. Shadwell and Dryden were separated not only by literary grounds but also by political ones as Shadwell was a Whig , while Dryden was an outspoken supporter of the Stuart monarchy. The poem illustrates Shadwell as the heir to a kingdom of poetic dullness, represented by his association with Richard Flecknoe , an earlier poet already satirized by Andrew Marvell and disliked by Dryden, although the poet does not use belittling techniques to satirize him. Thus, Dryden subverts the theme of the defining characteristic by giving Shadwell a negative characteristic as his only virtue. Dryden uses the mock-heroic through his use of the heightened language of the epic to treat the trivial subjects such as poorly written and largely dismissible poetry.

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