John Dryden Was One of the Most Essay

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John Dryden was one of the most important literary figures in the 17th century because he excelled in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Dryden was a master of many literary techniques, most particularly the extended metaphor. His poem "Absalom and Achitophel" is a political satire which deals with the then-current political situation in England in a most sly and intelligent way. The piece is an historical allegory wherein the author uses historical events to explore the deeper meaning behind more recent events that have shaped is own society. The rebellion of Absalom against King David is used to parallel the various plots to take over the throne of England through the Exclusion Crisis, the Popish Plot, and the Monmouth Rebellion. Dryden uses the relative safety of the allegory to make a scathing remark about the politics of his country and to subtly recommend ways in which the country could be strengthened through certain changes.

The story of Absalom would of course been very well-known to the people of 17th and 18th century England, Christianity being the national religion and a large part of everyday life for most persons of the period. David's heir Absalom, unwilling to wait until David's death to become the King decides to lead a revolution against him. Achitophel, who had been one of the king's most trusted advisors, chooses to work against him in the ensuing warfare, becoming the worst kind of traitor. At the end of the story, both the traitors have been killed, hinting that to whoever might read the poem that if they would dare defy the king in the modern day would, they would likely also find themselves dead. Dryden uses this well-known story to compare the perpetrators of the plots against England's royal family to the villains in King David's tale. At the time that Dryden was writing, England was going through a tumultuous period wherein the various people in King Charles II's life were colluding to take over the throne at his passing.
In order to prevent the Catholic King James from ascending to the throne, Charles' lead advisor Shaftesbury begged Charles to legitimize his bastard son Monmouth. However, it was found that had this failed Shaftesbury and Monmouth were prepared to take the throne by force and violence, leading to the arrest of both men. Dryden utilizes the extended metaphor of the Biblical allegory to make the struggle that Charles II currently feels both more palpable to the reader and more important because it places their king in the same position as that of King David so many years ago.

In terms of poetic technique, John Dryden utilizes iambic pentameter in "Absalom and Achitophel." This was the most popular form of poetic meter during the Renaissance and continued well into the 18th century, favored by the likes of William Shakespeare as well as the sonneteers and poets of the period. Iambic pentameter is a series of metric feet within a single line. There are ten syllables which are in….....

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