Mac Flecknoe: Lines. 128-133 - Summary & Analysis

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      Lines. 128-133. Just at that point.....Empire take. These lines are from Mac Flecknoe. Shadwell has been crowned as king of the realm of Nonsense. Just as the ceremony of the coronation was drawing to close, a strange sight was seen. Twelve aged, solemn-looking owls were seen on the left-hand side of Shadwell. Owls are ominous birds and are associated with evil and darkness. Dryden implies the beginning of a dark and ominous reign of the dullard, Shadwell. But in the empire of Nonsense absolute, this was thought to be an auspicious omen. It is said in legends and ballads that Romulus, the supposed founder of the city of Rome, saw the flight of twelve vultures and took it as a favorable mark. The crowd present at the coronation ceremony knew the legend and, taking the appearance of owls to be an auspicious omen, raised shouts of joy. The auspicious omen promised to them an empire of dullness to be ruled by Shadwell.

      Critical Analysis. The mock-heroic vein continues and this reference to Romulus is perfectly in consonance with the satire. It makes it immensely delightful. The comparison of Shadwell to Romulus once again illustrates Dryden's stylistic device of comparing small men to great in order to reduce them to even a lower level. The sting lies in the fact that Shadwell's reign is augured by "owls" and not vultures. The inversion of values is complete; the parody is clear. Comic wit marks the contrast of Rome with the realm of Nonsense, and Romulus with Shadwell.

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