Shakespeare vs Dryden

Topics: Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare, Mark Antony Pages: 12 (3975 words) Published: February 17, 2012



The following study is based on the plays Antony and Cleopatra which is written by William Shakespeare and All for Love which is written by John Dryden. Both writers are the most prominent playwrights in the history of English literature. We can see that both writers through their respective works have focused on the relationship between two prominent characters of the ancient world- Marc Antony, who was a Roman ruler and Cleopatra- who was considered the most beautiful woman in the world and who was also the queen of Egypt.

John Dryden was impressed by Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and hence was inspired to write a play of the same proportions based on the relationship of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. The subject and the theme of both plays are the same. But one has to know that both are exemplary versions of a great story written by two of the most famous playwrights who have birthed an array of great literary works of their era.

The following study gives a short summary of both the plays which is followed by a comparative study between both plays which is based on different parameters. The study is intended only to compare both the plays with each other and not to criticize the plays written by both writers.

About William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright and arguable the greatest English writer that ever existed. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. Almost all his works are considered of high value and is often studied, performed and reinterpreted based on different cultures and political contexts. Most playwrights of the period typically collaborated with others at some point, and literary critics agree that Shakespeare did the same, mostly early and late in his career. Shakespeare's work has made a lasting impression on later theatre and literature. He expanded the dramatic potential of characterization, plot, language, and genre.

Shakespeare was not recognized for his works during his lifetime but he did receive his share of praise after he passed away. His works are still considered to the best of English language. No matter what genre his work belonged to, his works were known for his excellence. Though he had his share of criticisms from many literary critics and writers, his creations from every genre were notable and his work was quite definitely the best English language has to offer.

Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra is also considered one of his best works. It has been applauded by many critics and scholars and also adapted on stage on a number of occasions.

Antony & Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. The exact year of when it was written is still not determined. The tragedy is based on the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide. The tragedy is a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of...

References: -
❖ Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (e-book)
❖ All For Love by John Dryden (e-book)
❖ Wikipedia- Online Encyclopedia
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