British Literature I: John Dryden

True or False: John Dryden is perhaps best known for his poetic and dramatic works, yet he was with some justice referred to by Samuel Johnson as “the father of English criticism.”

True or False: Dryden mastered the heroic couplet.

True or False: “Absalom and Achitophel” established Dryden as the leading satirical poet of the day.

True or False: Published in 1681, “Absalom and Achitophel” was composed in celebration of what Dryden saw as King Charles II’s recent assertion of monarchical authority and recovery of political control… In using his wit to demonstrate his loyalty to the king (without glossing over all the King’s faults, particularly his promiscuity), to garner support for the Successionists, and to ridicule his enemies (without dealing too harshly with Monmouth, whom Charles still loved), Dryden was fulfilling some of the most difficult tasks of his office as Poet Laureate, while simultaneously succeeding in entertaining his audience.

King David.
Which Biblical figure represents Charles II in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

Absalom, David’s son.
Which Biblical figure represents James, Duke of Monmouth, in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

Which Biblical figures represent Catholics in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

Which Biblical figures represent Protestants in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

The Popish Plot of 1678.
Which Plot is being described in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

Achitophel, the evil counselor of Absalom.
Which Biblical figure represents Anthony Ashley Cooper, First Earl of Shaftesbury in “Absalom and Achitophel”?

True or False: Traditionally, Fortune (or Opportunity) is represented as a woman with flowing hair that can be seized as she approaches. She is bald behind, however, and once past cannot be grasped.

True or False: Charles II promoted James to general in 1678 and banished Monmouth to Holland in the following year.

“Free with money.”
What does “prodigal of pelf” mean?

Titus Oates.
Who was the chief manufacturer of the Popish Plot?

True or False: The first of Dryden’s satires, ‘Mac Flecknoe,’ with its bawdy raillery against dull writers and ignorant, unimaginative readers, is often considered his liveliest and most humorous poem… In the poem, Shadwell (a rival of Dryden) has been chosen by the English poet Richard Flecknoe (a minor poet of the previous generation whose name was, at least for Dryden, synonymous with bad poetry) as heir to his kingdom of dullness — thus becoming “Mac,” or the “son of” Flecknoe.

A coarse woolen cloth.

True or False: Buskins were high boots worn by tragic actors and socks were the slippers, or soft shoes, of Athenian comic actors.

Iambic (i.e., unstressed, stressed; e.g., “re-mark”).
In which meter was sharp satire often written?

True or False: John Dryden (1631-1700)
-Considered the creator of Restoration literature
-Politically and religiously engaged
-Royalist, loyal to Charles II and to James II
-Poet laureate
-Converted to Catholicism (consequently, he was stripped of his position as poet laureate, as well as other things)

True or False: Dryden’s First Works
-1649: poem on the death of Lord Hastings — touches obliquely on the execution of Charles I
-1659: poem on the death of Oliver Cromwell
–>seen as hypocritical when he [Dryden] supported the Restoration [of the monarchy]
-His ‘Astraea Redux
–poem on the return of Charles II
–first use of comparison between Charles II and King David, uses Scripture to argue for a prophetic order for restored monarchy
–he “steals” the use of Scripture from the Puritan factions who created the Commonwealth
-His ‘An Essay of Dramatic Poesy’
–reviews topics that will become central themes of Restoration criticism (e.g., wit, rhyme, mixing of genres, imitation of nature, ancient vs. modern literature, French vs. English aesthetics, etc…)
-His ‘The State of Innocence’
–a handful of theatrical scenes reducing Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’
–dedicated to the future wife of James II
-His ‘All for Love’
–adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’
-His ‘Absalom and Achitophel’
–claims to be politically neutral, but is fiercely partisan
–Biblical analogy
–suggests the conservatism of the late-seventeenth century
–key text in the use of poetry for polemic (meaning, “a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something”)
-His ‘The Hind and the Panther’
–a defense of James II’s policy of indulgence — the King’s efforts to remove restrictions and penalties made by Parliament against Roman Catholics.
-Dryden made many translations, WHICH IS IMPORTANT, because it influenced his own style and way of writing.

“A strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.”

True or False: Charles II had a wife and mistress (perhaps like King David). Also, the idea of the Divine Right of Kings is presented here.

True or False: Achitophel is telling Absalom that he should act now, while he’s young. Also, he is flattering him, as well as encouraging Absalom to do what he [Achitophel] thinks David should have done. Achitophel says that David’s generosity makes him weak. He tells Absalom to tell the people “what they want to hear.”

True or False: France is likened to Egypt, and England to Israel.

True or False: Dryden’s ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ reads like Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost,’ in a way.

True or False: ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ is an allegory.