Restoration Tragedy

3561 Words Jan 24th, 2010 15 Pages
Restoration tragedy

THE lesser tragic writers of this period, uninspired as most of their work seems when judged on its own merits, fall inevitably to a still lower level by comparison with the amazing literary powers of their great leader, Dryden. They have all his faults and only a small and occasional admixture of his strength and resource. In tragedy, as in other departments of literature, the genius of Dryden overtops, on a general estimate, the productions of his lesser contemporaries, and how closely his lead in the drama was followed may be correctly estimated from the fact that, in 1678, on his abandoning the use of rimed verse in the drama, his followers also dropped this impossible form, wisely reflecting, no doubt, that when
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| The heroic play was not, however, an entirely new growth. For the most part, it was French, but the influence of the | |
|Elizabethan dramatists may also be traced in it; and though, at first sight, it may appear to represent a departure from | |
|previous methods and ideals, and to be a distinct breaking-away from the established traditions of tragedy in England, yet a | |
|more careful examination shows that, in the main, it was the natural successor of the late Elizabethan drama, modified | |
|according to prevailing tastes, and confined within the pseudo-classical limits which were the order of the day. Under these | |
|conditions, it is not surprising that the heroic play did not take deep root in English soil. By 1680, tragedies in verse were| |
|going out of fashion, and the English tragic manner, as opposed to the French, began to re-assert itself in the work of | |
|contemporary dramatists. | |

The works of the great French dramatists had, also, a considerable direct influence on English tragedy during the restoration