Mac Flecknoe: Lines. 43-46 - Summary & Analysis

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      Lines. 43-46. Methinks I see.....Basses roar. The lines are taken from Dryden's Mac Flecknoe. Flecknoe is delivering a speech in priase of Shadwell, the heir to his throne of Nonsense. He comapres Shadwell to Arion, the musician of Greek legend. Arion threw himself out of a ship to escape being murdered. The music he played on his lyre charmed the dolphins, one of which rescued him by carrying him on its back. Shadwell is compared to Arion because of his pretensions to musical skill and the fact that he took part in some royal procession along the river Thames, and rode on a barge. Flecknoe recalls Shadwell's playing on the lute with shaking fingers and producing unpleasant sounds under the guide of music.

      Critical Analysis. The comparison of Shadwell with Arion is obviously ironic. We have here the device of false elevation leading to sudden deflation. Shadwel is apparently ennobled by being referred to as "the new Arion", but immediately afterward suffers a deflation through the use of terms like "trembling", "nail", "squeaks for fear." Heroic material is used for the purpose of satirical effect - a dvice of the mock-heroic at which Dryden was so adept. The musical skill of Shadwell is effectively ridiculed through the description of his playing on the lute. His "well sharpened thumb" clearly indicataes the jarring sounds which he produces.

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