Imagery in Mac Flecknoe

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The title of Dryden’s poem Mac Flecknoe initiates the theme of familiar succession thus presenting many father/son or successor pairs. The poem begins with a mock sentential in the ponderous, aphoristic manner of a heroic poetry, gradually unveils the pathetic monarch of “Nonsense Absolute”. The first four lines which open the poem are in the high style with a delicate Horatian irony controlling the mock heroic inversions of terms. In the opening twenty lines of the poem Dryden introduces the readers to Richard Flecknoe, Shadwell’s literary sire in the poem, whom Dryden represents as the monarch of the kingdom of Nonsense. Dryden has made him the prince of Dullness, Shadwell, because Flecknoe was generally regarded as an object of ridicule in view of his bad verification by the wits of the day. Here he stands for all the would be bad poet. Mac Flecknoe is one of the most outstanding poems for which Dryden earned his fame as a poet. It is a powerful invective by parody. His principal method is the ironical politeness of the mock epic. The comic mode gives life to the poem and what impresses us is the technique and the literary merit rather than the way in which Shadwell is satirized. Mac Flecknoe is a satire by parody. As a parody it mocks by narrating a trivial event in an epic manner.He applies vocabulary, images and ceremonies which arouse epic associations of grandeur, to make an enemy helplessly ridiculous. The poem is an outcome of bitter political and literary difference between Dryden and Shadwell. Dryden however makes literature alone as the basic subject of his poem and does not indulge in any sort of political stunt. The subject of literature is bound up with pervasive imagery of coronation. Flecknoe, whose name had become a synonym for all bad versifiers in Dryden’s time, is the king of the realm of nonsense. He is tired out with business and decides to settle the succession of the state. Flecknoe is looking for a successor who would wage immortal war...
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