Heroic Drama Criticism: Early Plays: Dryden And Orrery - Essay

Arthur C. Kirsch (essay date June 1962)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kirsch, Arthur C. “The Significance of Dryden's Aureng-Zebe.ELH 29, no. 2 (June 1962): 160-74.

[In this essay, Kirsch interprets Dryden's Aureng-Zebe as a pivotal heroic drama.]

The second decade of the Restoration witnessed two significant changes in the development of serious drama: the advent of sentimental heroes and domestic situations, and the abandonment of rhyme. The changes are particularly interesting because they seem to be related. They can be seen in all the serious plays of the decade, but their relationship is perhaps most clear in Dryden's Aureng-Zebe (1676), the play which stands midway between The Conquest of...

(The entire section is 5766 words.)

Anne T. Barbeau (essay date 1970)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Barbeau, Anne T. “Dryden's Plays of Ideas.” In The Intellectual Design of John Dryden's Heroic Plays, pp. 3-23. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970.

[In this essay, Barbeau examines the view that Dryden's heroic plays emphasized ideas over emotion.]

Samuel Johnson's accurate judgment of Dryden is that the latter's “favourite exercise” consists in ratiocination and that, as a result, he is deficient in portraying natural passion and sensibility.1 This estimate would have had a pejorative connotation for a reader of the late eighteenth century, when sentimental drama had sufficiently displaced, in the public esteem, that theater of ideas...

(The entire section is 7076 words.)

Nancy Klein Maguire (essay date spring 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Maguire, Nancy Klein. “Regicide and Reparation: The Autobiographical Drama of Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery.” English Literary Renaissance 21, no. 2 (spring 1991): 257-82.

[In the following essay, Maguire reviews Orrery's corpus as it repeatedly develops the theme of forgiveness and mercy, proposing that through his heroic dramas Orrery sought to expiate his—and by extension society's—guilt for the execution of Charles I and the civil war.]

“For nought is virtue w(ch) successe does want.”

(Orrery, The Generall)

“Guilt next to Love, above all ties does bind.”


(The entire section is 10412 words.)

David R. Evans (essay date spring 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Evans, David R. “‘Private Greatness’: The Feminine Ideal in Dryden's Early Heroic Drama.” Restoration 16, no. 1 (spring 1992): 2-19.

[In this essay, Evans explores the role of the female characters in Dryden's heroic plays The Indian Queen, The Indian Emperor, and Tyrannick Love.]

Within the relatively large body of criticism on Dryden's heroic drama, little attention has been paid to how the plays deploy female characters. In some respects this neglect is not surprising, because they are, after all, “heroic dramas,” and in most people's minds—certainly in Dryden's—a hero is by definition a male. Despite, or perhaps because of such a...

(The entire section is 8980 words.)

Stephan P. Flores (essay date spring 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Flores, Stephan P. “Orrery's The Generall and Henry the Fifth: Sexual Politics and the Desire for Friendship.” The Eighteenth Century 37, no. 1 (spring 1996): 56-74.

[In the essay below, Flores contends that Orrery's heroic plays define “the need for bonds of friendship and faith in political and sexual relations that would not simply restore a mythic heroic past, but would also establish a socio-political practice equal to the conflicted demands of the present.”]

Scholars familiar with the popular heroic plays of Roger Boyle, First Earl of Orrery, have recently begun to explore in detail the ways in which his work articulates conflicts...

(The entire section is 8695 words.)