John dryden an essay of dramatic poesy analysis
Discuss John Dryden’s Essay on Dramatic Poesy
89 It does seem notable that there is an expansion of women s roles in all three of these plays. This is not a statement that can be made about English theatre of the time in general, especially since this study purposefully includes a large proportion of English plays by women. However, it is true even in The Country Wife, the only English play examined written by a man, that the women s roles which existed in the French play appear to be expanded, and there are also more women. Of course, this is in part due to the apparent desire to include a greater variety of characters and plot as Dryden suggests in his essay of dramatic poesy. He claims that, 'Tis evident that the more the persons are, the greater will be the variety, of the plot. If then the parts are managed so regularly that the beauty of the whole be kept entire, and that the variety become not a perplexed and confused mass of accidents, you will find it infinitely pleasing to be led in a labyrinth of design, where you see some of your way before you, yet discern not the end till you arrive at it.23i This shift therefore could have to do with a concern which Dryden was aware of at the time; a desire for plots that were not bound by the rules of neoclassical French theatre. It also may have to do with the incredibly important presence of women onstage in this period, which is something I have endeavored to discuss in this thesis, both by highlighting the important roles of the actresses and their popularity, but also in my focus on both Aphra Behn and Susanna Centlivre, two women who wrote very popular plays in the period, when the profession of playwriting was still dominated by men. As Katherine Quinsey claims about Restoration drama, 232 D r y d e n An Essay of Dramatic Poesy, 169.
Bharat Bhammar's Assignment: Essay on Dramatic Poesy
38 plays because of their need to follow the unity of action.95 They also discuss the idea that some things should not be presented on stage, one of the Neoclassical rules that the French still followed. That is, those actions which by reason of their cruelty will cause aversion in us, or by reason of their impossibility unbelief, ought either wholly to be avoided by a Poet, or onely delivered by narration. To which, we may have leave to add such as to avoid tumult, (as was before hinted) or to reduce the Plot into a more reasonable compass of time, or for defect of Beauty in them, are rather to be related then presented to the eye.96 It was the standard and accepted rules in both classical Greek plays, and then consequently neoclassical French plays that obscene acts happened offstage, such as the blinding of Oedipus, or the death of Hippolytus in Racine s Phedre. Of course, the English had no attachment to these rules, as is clear in Shakespeare s plays with the blinding of the Gloucester onstage in King Lear. The adherence to the unities of time, place and action of Moliere s plays make for some obvious differences with Wycherley s play, and make it so the cuckolding happens only in the future in the minds of the potential husbands we see. L Ecole des femmes all takes place in one location, which is of course different than The Country Wife. However, it also seems possible that some of the more lascivious behavior in The Country Wife would have been seen as behavior less appropriate on the stage in France. 95 John Dryden, An Essay of Dramatic Poesy, Ed. Edmund D. Jones. English Critical Essays: Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century, Vol. 1. (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), Dryden, An Essay o f Dramatic Poesy, 160.