John Dryden Drama Analysis
John Dryden was a prolific playwright, creating heroic plays, political plays, operas, heroic tragedies, comedies, and tragicomedies; however, he is best remembered for his poetry and criticism, as many of his plays did not stand the test of time.
Marriage à la Mode
Dryden’s best comedy is generally considered to be Marriage à la Mode. His others rely heavily on farcical situations and double entendre and, at times, inept licentiousness that makes comedies such as The Assignation and The Kind Keeper seem unnecessarily coarse even by the standards of his time. Marriage à la Mode combines in its two distinct plot lines the conventions of the romantic tragicomedy and the Restoration comedy of manners, a genre not fully established when Dryden produced his play.
The tragicomic plot involves the theme of succession, perhaps Dryden’s most frequent dramatic theme after love and honor. Polydamas, having usurped the throne of Sicily, discovers two young persons of gentle birth but unknown parentage who have been living among fisher folk under the care of Hermogenes, a former courtier. When Hermogenes tells the usurper that Leonidas is his son, born after his wife had fled from him, the king accepts this as correct, even though Leonidas is actually the son of the king he had deposed. When Polydamas insists that Leonidas marry the daughter of his friend, Leonidas refuses because of his love...
(The entire section is 3768 words.)
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