"Men Are But Children Of A Larger Growth"

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Last Updated on May 13, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 266

Context: Dryden's greatest tragedy, for which he borrowed from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra was performed and published almost immediately. Dryden made changes in his model to preserve the classical unities, and therefore had to invent action not in his source, with psychological analysis substituted for action. In Act IV, after Octavia, wife of Caesar, has told Cleopatra that every evil suffered by Caesar has been the fault of the Egyptian Queen, Antony tries to persuade his friend Dollabella to carry his farewell to Cleopatra while he goes to Caesar in an attempt to save her and some of her possessions for her. He is afraid that if he looks at Cleopatra again, his love will make him change his mind and ruin her as well as himself. After his departure, Dollabella ponders on the lack of maturity of men. They are only children a few years older, and frequently act like children. They lack introspection. Dollabella thinks his friend is like that, and pities him for his blind infatuation with the lovely Cleopatra; yet at the same time, he envies Antony.

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Men are but children of a larger growth;
Our appetites as apt to change as theirs,
And full as craving too, and full as vain.
And yet the soul, shut up in her dark room,
Viewing so clear abroad, at home sees nothing;
But, like a mole in earth, busy and blind,
Works all her folly up, and casts it outward
To the world's open view; thus I discover'd,
And blam'd the love of ruin'd Antony;
Yet wish that I were he, to be so ruin'd.

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