SHADWELL BY DRYDEN
John Dryden is the spokesman of his age. He is the greatest reasoner in verse. He is indeed a great satirist. 'Shadwell' is an extract from his longer satire named 'Mac Flecknoe'. It holds an important place in the history of English satirical poetry.
'Shadwell' is named after a notoriously bad poet and playwright. His name was Thomas Shadwell. He belonged to the 17th century. This fellow was not a first rate author but he was the poet laureate of
England. He had quarreled with John Dryden. Dryden was a Tory and Catholic. Shadwell was a Whig and a Protestant. He attacked Dryden in his satire 'The Medal of John Bayes'. Thus Dryden became very angry.
In reply he vehemently satirized Shadwell.
In the present satire Dryden portrays Shadwell as a literary dunce. He has been presented as a worthy successor of Flecknoe. Flecknoe was a third rate writer. Shadwell bears the perfect image of Flecknoe in his dullness and stupidity. He is the epitome of nonsense. In his writing he is never convincing. He is fond of needless repetitions.
Dryden has beautifully satirized Shadwell's physical structure and intellectual condition. He has a very fat body. He is as coarse as
Norwich drug get. He has been presented as a creature that is free from all thoughts. So he is the fittest to be a successor to Flecknoe. He is the last prophet of tautology. Describing Shadwell's character Dryden says:
Even I, a dunce of more renown than they,
Was sent before but to prepare thy way:
And coarsely clad in
Norwich drug get came
To teach the nations in thy greater name.
Thus 'Shadwell' is a great satire. It is remarkable for its delightful tone. The tone is mock heroic and is full of pompous irony. This poem is written in heroic couplet in the iambic pentameter. Dryden has used it with great felicity. Its language and presentation is highly impressive. It suitably serves the purpose of the satirist. Here Dryden has vehemently satirized the character of Shadwell. The design of the poem is very happy indeed. The central figure of the story is highly ingenious.