Mac Flecknoe as a Satire

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  • Topic: John Dryden, Thomas Shadwell, MacFlecknoe
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  • Published : May 16, 2013
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Written about 1678 and  published in 1682 Mac Flecknoe (full title: Mac Flecknoe; or, A satyr upon the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T.S.[1]) is a verse mock-heroic satire written by John Dryden. It is a direct attack on Thomas Shadwell, another prominent poet of the time. As an English poet, John Dryden is classified as classic writer. When compared to romantic verses, Dryden’s poems, found lacking that love of nature. His verses are commonly simple. He loved to apply intellectual approach. Brower (1959) comments him that the whole account of poetic composition indicates clearly that Dryden sought for intellectual strength and rational precision in form. This indication is found as well in Mac Flecknoe. Dryden’s role as a poetic prophet to his literary society is emphasized through his use of satirical form. Its disparity and humour display “true wit,” the aim of any seventeenth century author. Mac Flecknoe represents the popularity of satire during Dryden’s day. Clarence Hugh Holman and William Harmon define satire as “a literary manner that blends a critical attitude with humor and wit for the purpose of improving human institutions or humanity” (447). This literary convention, known for its use of clever and unusual conceit, seeks to both inform and educate readers about social decorum and moral values. About the poem (MacFlecknoe) Oliver Gold Smith in his article The Beauties of English Poetry (1967), as it is quoted by Wheatly writes: The severenity of this satire, and the excellence of its versification give it a distinguished rank in this species of composition. At present, an ordinary reader would scarcely suppose that Shadwell, who is here meant by MacFlecknoe, was worth being chastised, and that Dryden, descending to such game, was like an JIBS (Jurnal Ilmu Bahasa dan Sastra) Vol. 1/ Nomor 2/ Juli - Desember 2001 127 eagle stooping to catch flies. The truth however is, Shadwell at one time held divided reputation with this great poet. Every age produces its fashionable dances, who, by following the transcient topic or humor of the day, supply talkative ignorance with materials for conversation. (Wheatly, 1967: 161).

zsdbn holding up vice or folly to ridicule or lampooning individuals. . . . The use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc., in speech or writing for the ostensible purpose of exposing and discourage vice or folly." Such a work uses the elevated style of the classical epic poem such as The Iliad to satirize human follies. A mock epic pretends that a person, a place, a thing, or an idea is extraordinary when—in the author's view—it is actually insignificant and trivial. For example, a mock epic about an inconsequential U.S. president such as Millard Fillmore might compare him to such rulers as Pericles, Julius Caesar, Saladin, Louis XIV, and George Washington.  .......In writing "Mac Flecknoe," John Dryden imitated not only the characteristics of Homer's epics but also those of later writers such asVirgil, Dante, and Milton. In its opening lines of MacFlecknoe introduce Flecknoe who is comparable to emperor Augustus who has power in the realms of nonsense. The faculty of the poet in creating satire is on his giving value on any element that he considers valueless. Dryden praises Richard Flecknoe for his ignorance in poetic world. In John Dryden and His Satire MacFlecknoe (Joseph Supardjana) 128 this condition he decides to settle the question of succession. While looking for a successor he has decided on Shadwell who must reign. The reason is, it is Shadwell who can imitate the bad poetry Richard Flecknoe had written. This idea is in line with the following lines of MacFlecnoe. ’tis resolv’d; for nature pleads that he Should only rule, who most resembles me: “Sh…..alone my perfect image bears,Mature in dullness from his tender years. Sh…..alone of all my sons, is he Who stands confirm’d n full stupidity” MacFlecknoe can be read as a...
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