Restoration drama and prose

By Carolyn Bell,2014-04-14 16:22
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Restoration drama and prose

Restoration drama and prose

    When Charles II became king in 1660, the theaters opened again, and new dramatics therefore appeared. The tragic drama of this period was made up mainly of heroic plays. In these the men are splendidly brave, and the women wonderfully beautiful.

    The plays are written in heroic couplets, a form of metre perfected by John Dryden ( The conquest of Granada, Aurengzebe). His well-known play, All for love (or The

    World Well Lost) (1678) is in blank verse. It is based on Shakespeare's Antony and

    Cleopatra. Some crtics consider it his best, but others prefer Don Sebastian (1691). Some of the men of the time saw the stupidity of the extraordinary situations in the heroic plays, and the second Duke of Buckingham, probably with some help,, produced a comedy, The Rehearsal (1672), which satirited them. The plot is

    intentionally foolish, and hits Dryden and other dramatists.

Of the tragedies by other dramatists, three by Thomas Otway are the beat ( Don

    Carlos in rhymed verse, The Orphan in blank verse and Venice Preserved also in

    blank verse). A new kind of comedy appeared at the end of this century, known as the Comedy of Manners. This kind of play is hard and bright, witty and heartless. It was introduced by Sir George Etherege. His play The Man of Mode (1676) gives a picture

    of the immortal manners of the day, but has no proper plot.

William Wycherley was a satirical dramatist. His best works are The Country Wife

    (1675), a coarse play with some fine wit in it;and the Plain Dealer (1676).

     Better than these were the play of William Congreve( The old bachelor, The double

    dealer, Love for love). These three comedies follow the pattern of Etherege's polished style. Sir John Vanbrugh wrote three succesful comedies, The Relapse(1696), The

    Provoked Wife(1697) and The Confenderacy(1705). These plays were in general

    rather coarse, clever, bright, and partly a reflection of the behaviour of upper-class society of the time.Much later, in 1773, Oliver Goldsmith produced She stoops to

    Conguer, a play in which a private house is amistaken for a hotel.

    We must now consider the prose of the Restoration time. Dryden's critical works include his Essay on Dramatic Poesie (1668). This compared English and French

    drama, defended the use of rhyme in drama and praised Shakespeare. Dryden's prose is important. More than anyone else at this time he led the way to a clear, reasonable and balanced way of writing english. In addition to this he was a better critic than most poets. In the Essay he mentioned the limitations which the French set themselves by keeping to the unities of time and place. John Bunyan's prose set an example of clear, simple expression, especially in The Pilgrim's Progress and The

    Holy war (1682). John Locke's prose was also very clear, earnest and without ornament, though it lacks the balance in its sentences which gives Bunyan's style its charm. But Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding (1690) is one of the most

    important works of english philosophy. It gave a new direction to thought, not only in England but in other countries of Europe although, a s Locke himself warned: New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.

    27.listopad, 2006 Odjel za Engleski jezik i književnost 27.listopad, 2006 Odjel za Engleski jezik i književnost

Eighteenth-century prose

    The new century threw aside the strange plots and ideas of heroic tragedy and turned to reasonable things. Daniel Defoe described the Great Plague in London in his Journal of the Plague Year (1772). The plague broke out in 1665, when Defoe was

    only five, but he obtained information about it from different places. His Robinson Crusoe (1719) is a better and more famous book.

    Richard Steele and Joseph Addison worked together in producing The Tatler, a paper

    of essays on various subjects. A more famous papre, The Spectator, followed. These

    essays, written in pure English prose without too much ornament, helped towards the production of the novel.

    Jonathan Swift was a bitter satirist. His Tale of a Tub (1704) attacked religious ideas,

    and annoyed a large number of readers. An example of that bitterness may be seen in A Modest Proposal (1729), which contains the suggestion that the poor, who needed money, should sell their children to the rich as food. Swift's most popular satire, Gulliver's Travels (1726), is in four books. As a story it is popular with the young. Dr Samuel johnson appeared with his famous Dictionary in 1755 and went into five editions. His own writings are less important than what we said, and a record of his conversations has fortunately been preserved for us in The Life of Johnson (1791)

    by his friend James Boswell. This is the greatest biography in English.

Edward Gibson has decided to write The Decline and Fall of The Roman

    Empire while he was making a tour of Italy 1764. this is recognized as the greatest historical work in english literature. Edmund Burke wrote fine prose too, but it was oratorical prose. Some of the wise and splendid speaches may be found in his Speech on Amercan Taxation (1774), Speech of conciliation with America(1775) and Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777). Later in his life his Reflections on The French

    Revolution (1790) made him famous in all parts of europe. He supported the old ways of governement against the new.

    Pamela by Samuel Richardson, is a novel written in the form of letters, and these appeared one after the other. This book is different from mere stories of adventure;for it examines the human heart and shows the effects of human character. Henry Fielding, began a novel, Joseph Andrews 81749), as a kind of satire on Pamela. Fielding's greatest novel, tom jones 81749), appeared in eighteen books, each of which had an essay before it. A new kind of picture of real life was drawn by Tobias smollett inhis picaresque novel, roderick Random (1748). The novel is powerul and unpleasant. It describes bitterly the life of those who sail the seas. In another novel, Peregrine Pickle (1751), the hero is an unpleasant fellow who travels a good deal, has fights, and visits Paris and Holand.

Laurence Sterne's astonishing books are as confusing as life itself. His Tristam

    Shandy (1760-7) made him famous. We have to read about half the book before the hero, Tristam, is born.

    Horase Walpole wrote (partly as a joke) The Castle of Otranto (1764), a novel about

    the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It contains descriptions of impossible events, such as the destruction of a building by an immense ghost inside it. Mrs Ann Radcliffe developed the novel of terror with work of better quality. Her

    greatest novel, The Myteries of Udolpha (1794), is set in the Appenine Mountains.

    The girl Emily is held in a castle by her aunt's husband, an evil character. Her other novels were Romance of the Forest (1791) and The Italians (1797).

    27.listopad, 2006 Odjel za Engleski jezik i književnost 27.listopad, 2006 Odjel za Engleski jezik i književnost

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