What is Dryden's intention in writing Mac Flecknoe; or, A satyr upon the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T.S.?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dryden's intention in the mock-heroic satire Mac Flecknoe; or, A satyr upon the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T.S. is to satirize and criticize the work of fellow poet, Thomas Shadwell. They had been friends but since the had many ongoing and long-standing disagreements with each other concerning the nature of comedy and the virtues of predecessor Ben Johnson, they severed their friendship and Dryden satirized Shadwell.

Dryden follows the form of the epic with precision, defining his hero with care in the opening verses and assigning one defining characteristics, as is required by the formula of epic poetry, but whereas epic heroes are defined by heroic qualities, Shadwell, in the persona of Mac Flecknoe, has the defining characteristic of dullness. Written in high literary epic diction, Dryden's insertion of flat descriptive nouns like "dullness" adds to the satire.