Mac Flecknoe: Lines. 193-202 - Summary & Analysis

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      Lines. 193-202. Nor let thy.....and dies. Flecknoe advises Shadwell not to try and emulate Jonson, in Mac Flecknoe by John Dryden. No doubt he was fat like Jonson. But having in common with Jonson a corpulent body, did not entitle him to the merits and virtues of Jonson. Jonson's fatness was a measure of his intellectual greatness, but Shadwell's fatness is due only to the swelling of his body with empty, gaseous nonsense. Dryden hints at the bigness and drunkenness of Shadwell. His body is as huge as a large barrel, but his wit could be contained in a small cask. His huge body has a very little amount of intellect in it. Shadwell's poetic works were as slow and dull as Flecknoe's. Shadwell never produces the desired effect. His tragedies raise smiles instead of chastening the heart with awe and pity. His comedies merely produced a soporific effect, inducing the audience to sleep. His satires, too, are pointless and wanting in wit. No matter if his heart was full of poison, but when he took up his Irish pen, it died within at that moment. His anger and male volence, freely expressed, make him sound ludicrous instead of making him offensive.

      Critical Analysis. Dryden here fully exposes the worthlessness of Shadwell as a poet and a dramatist. He turns Shadwell's claim to similarity with Jonson, on the ground of fatness, to a matter of ridicule. The satire is direct in these lines. Shadwell cannot produce the desired effect with his writings. Mockery combines with fine humor in the direct hits at the victim - in the images such as "mountain belly.", "tun of man and "Kilderkin of wit." The imagery is imaginative as well as powerful.

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