Analysis of Dryden's Mac Flecknoe as a Mock - Heroic Epic Poem


The term mock - heroic implies a travesty of the literary style and conventions of an epic in order to bring about a ridiculous mockery of some period or object whom or which the poet disapproves and wishes to satirize. Read More Poetry The mock - heroic genre jerks works through the device of disproportion incongruity. The epic devices suggestive of nobility and grandeur are applied to trivial objects resulting in a sense of ludicrous in congruity. Trivial objects are described in an exalted diction thereby deflating the subject in the process. Judged from this point of view, John Dryden's Mac Flecknoe is assigned the position of an ideal example of a mock - heroic poem in English. Read More Age of Dryden  The element of the burlesque shows nature in all her deformity as Dryden says in his preface to Anus Mirabilis, at which we can not forbear to laugh, because it is a deviation from nature '. Read More Poetry Dryden devises this technique from the French poet Boileau's Le Lutrian which yokes together the majesty of the heroic and the bite of the satire . Dryden performed his task of satirizing the literary pretensions of Thomas Shadwell with the utmost efficacy using the mock - heroic technique stylistically elevating his character and then deflating him to the status of a pigmy.

John Dryden
The very opening of the poem resounds with the ponderous ring of heroic poetry. The setting and the basic action are characterized by epic exaltation - the poem begins by describing a choice of the successor to a kingdom and his coronation. Read More Age of Dryden The opening lines apparently state the grand theme in elevated diction, but the deflation comes in the sixth cine when the reader learns that the kingdom is of nonsense and the initiation ceremony concerns 'the prince of Dullness '.

One of the most venomous weapons in Dryden's harmony is his ironical politeness. Read More Poetry The enter poem shows the masterful juxtaposition of the grandeur of heroic poetry and the triviality of low comedy. Phrases such as “Empress Fame”, “the nations meet” “the renown of Shadwell's coronation ' etc serves to build up an atmosphere of solemnity. Now, here is vituperative language resorted too. Flecknoe's speech highlighting his announcement as the most suitable heir to his throne borders on the panegyric, but is replete with deflating suggestions. There is a tone of reference; the meaning is that of ridicule.

Sh - alone , my perfect image bears
Nature in dullness from his tender years:
sh - stands confirmed in full stupidity .
This ironical tone is devastating in its satiric effect. Read More Poetry All other sons of Flecknoe might sometimes waver into sense, but Shadwell's 'rising fogs' ensured an eternal Lack of wit. Miltonic language (empire, governed, prince, realms, successions of the State, reign etc) is applied to a person of unparalleled idiocy.

It was a past of Dryden's Strategy terminology (prince, monarch etc) are powered in profanation in connection with Shadwell. It is the ridiculous context in which such exhaled diction is used that grinds the victim into insignificance. Read More Age of Dryden T. S. Eliot observes that it is the art transforming the ridiculous into heroic poetry that accounts for the success of Dryden as a mock - epic poet. The basic joke of Mac Flecknoe is that Shadwell was considered fit to be described in heroic style. A small man is not ridiculous by Himself; he becomes ridiculous when dressed in a suit of amour designed for a hero.

Mock - heroic effect is largely achieved through Dryden's ironic juxtaposition of the satiric objects with legendary figures. Read More Poetry By comparing a small man with great heroes, Dryden names a pigmy of Shadwell. Shadwell's comparison to Arian, the legendary musician, or to Ascanius, the great emperor of Rome, only serves to deflate Shadwell's personality. Shadwell is compared to Hannibal, the hero of Carthage. But whereas Hannibal wore eternal hostility to Rome, Shadwell waged perpetual war against wit and intelligence. The Flecknoe - Shadwell relationship is an ironical prosody of relationship between John Baptist and Christ. As John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the greatest advent of Christ, so Flecknoe came to prepare the world for the greater dullness of his son. Read More Age of Dryden Such associations serve to ridicule Shadwell in the lowest manner.

The designation of Shadwell’s coronation is highly mock - heroic. Pomp and gaudiness mark the scene. Read More Poetry The place is ' Fair Augusta' where an 'ancient fabric rose to inform the sight '. But the next moment Dryden's states:

                           ‘From its old ruins brothel houses rise,
                            Scenes of lewd loves and of polluted joys”
Instead of 'Persian carpets ' stock of dull books were spread over the way. The description of the prince also shows the hollowness of the scene:
                             ‘On his sinister hand, instead of ball,
                               He placed a mighty mug of potent ate.
Like a prude mock - heroic artist Dryden thus intermingle ridiculous elements and serious description and theory makes a comic feast of his subject. 

Ardhendu De


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