By Irvin Ehrenpreis
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Extra resources for Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen
Readers with an ear for dramatic verse will cherish them. If we now look back at the large design I have been sketching, we may see the issue of genre in a stronger light; for I think Dryden's design implies an attitude toward social institutions and moral traditions that belongs to a particular literary form. It is a commonplace of scholarship that Dryden thought of tragedy in terms of epic. He labeled The Conquest of Granada a tragedy; but in the dedication he described it as "heroic poetry" and mentioned only epics among his models.
Such essential violence is the first principle of sexual passion and explains its relation to the destructiveness of jealousy and hate. The metaphors for love that Dryden affects often derive from field sports, warfare, tempests, conflagrations, and floodsphenomena that are themselves metaphors for one another. Such a tendency is convenient for an author whose plays abound in battles and whose soldiers use similes drawn from lovemaking to express their delight in war. Rarely does Dryden employ imagery to bring out the peculiar nature of the individual speaking.
In a tremendous debate near the end of Act IV, Sebastian recalls Dorax to his obedient service, invoking imagery of hell, damnation, and the fall of angels. In an equally tremendous debate in Act V, the imagery returns as Dorax rescues Sebastian from the sin of self-murder; the "converted" king says, O thou has giv'n me such a glimse of Hell, So push'd me forward, even to the brink, Of that irremeable burning Gulph, That looking in th'Abyss, I dare not leap. And now I see what good thou meanst my Soul, And thank thy pious fraud: Thou has indeed, Appear'd a Devill, but didst an Angells work.
Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen by Irvin Ehrenpreis
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