Mac Flecknoe: Lines. 161-168 - Summary & Analysis

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      Lines. 161-168. May let thy.....will be thine. In Dryden's Mac Flecknoe, Flecknoe advises his son to write according to the dictates of his own brain. By doing his natural best, he would be able to create extremely foolish characters and thus would sufficiently prove the barrenness of his brain. Shadwell should depend on himself for the embellishment of his writings and never seek the help of others. His characters would reveal him perfectly in his dullness and differ only in name. Sir Charles Sedley had once written a prologue to Shadwell's play, Epsom Wells. Flecknoe advices him not to get the help of Sedley for improving his works. He should never care for rhetoric but use superfluous and bombastic words. The style, too, should be stupid and stilted. He should never have to labor to the dull, since stupidity is ingrained in him. He should write only in the most inspired moments of dullness. Even if he did not strain himself, his writing would automatically contain the ridiculous pomposity of his own literary creation, Sir Formal Trifle, in his play The Virtuoso.

      Critical Analysis. Here Dryden satirizes Shadwell by making him a writer of dullness only. He also refers to Shadwell's indebtedness of Sedley and implies that the merit of Shadwell's play was only due to Sedley's contribution. Dryden's own comic wit is in full evidence in these lines. He reduces his victim to the lowest level while appearing to praise his ability. Shadwell can work without great effort, but what he produces without effort, is Dullness.

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