Mac Flecknoe: Lines. 1-6 - Summary & Analysis

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      Lines. 1-6. All human things.....Nonsense absolute. These lines form the beginning of Dryden's poem Mac Flecknoe. All things which have a human shape, are bound to perish. The poet uses the term 'human things' and not 'human beings' because he knows that the latter type of persons leave behind them some name and fame, while those of the former type die in obscurity. The poem mainly deals with Flecknoe and his son, Shadwell, who are 'human things' and not 'human beings'. Even kings have no alterntive but to yield and submit to Fate. Flecknoe realized this truth. He was aware of the death which was approaching him.

      Flecknoe is now compared to Augustus Caesar. Augustus was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar was assassinated. Augustus was only a student. He was compelled by the circumstances to give up his studies and meddle in politics. After defeating his rivals, Antony and Lepidus, he assumed the role of a Roman Emperor and ruled his country for forty-one years. His reign is known as the Golden Age of Rome. Like Augustus, Flecknoe, too, was asked to rule the realm of Nonsense while he was very young. He ruled it for a long time. He was regarded as the unquestioned King of Dullness in both of its branches, i.e., prose and poetry. He was a despot of Dullness and there was nobody to rival him in the realm of Nonsense.

      Critical Analysis. The comparison of Shadwell's father, Flecknoe, with Augustus, is in burlesque style. It is in true mock-heroic manner, of which Dryden was a master. He compares his victim with a greater personality, but in the process, reduces the victim to the level of a pigmy.

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