John Dryden is known to be among the greatest playwrights and poet after William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. His mastery in poetry and drama gives him a worldwide recognition in the history of literature. He ranked second to Shakespeare in writing the greatest heroic play of the century in 1670 and 71, which was titled ‘The Conquest of Granada’ and other great works in drama and poetry. He wrote other great works such as tragicomedy, comitragedy, tragedy and comedy. His poems, however, were criticism on English writers such as William Shakespeare and Jonson (Richetti, 123). He analyzed their work to identify their strengths and weaknesses in both use of language and setting. For example, he criticized Shakespeare for violating unity of time in his work. He was involved to a significant extent significantly the introduction and establishment of theoretical principles for the development of English literature and aesthetic. His greatest contribution is in plays and poems.
His most impressive contribution is in the use of the heroic couplet. Heroic couplets are poetic lines written in iambic pentameter and have rhyme. These are lines contain five iambs, metric feet containing unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. Though the poetry style existed a century before him, he was able to write it successfully and attract others to use them. Today, his poetry is best known to full of satire (Richetti, 165). Astonishingly, he only wrote two great original satires which were Mac Flecknoe, to mock a fellow poet and The Medall written in 1682. However, his famous poem written a year earlier, Absalom and Achitophel, to address the political situation, contained little aspects of satire.
Working in the same line as Shakespeare, Dryden aimed at improving the weaknesses and flaws in previous work. For example, his play All for Love was an edited and upgraded version of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. He also edited The Tempest to meet the theater demand (Richetti, 196). He, therefore, corrected / changed the language and added some characters. In so doing, he influenced the emerging writers and poets and, therefore, had a direct impact on the plays written after him.
Richard Steele and Joseph Addison 18th century periodicals
Richard Steele and Joseph Addison are famous for their contribution in the development of the eighteenth century periodicals. The two were the producers of three periodicals namely; The Tatler between 1709 and 1711, The Spectator in 1711 and 1712 and finally The Guardian in 1713. The two were regarded as the best writer and editor, their periodicals were a success, and their closure was not because of poor sales or performance but the owner’s decisions. These periodicals were filled with social and moral commentary, literature, dramatic criticism, and short literature (Marr, 75). Additionally, they included serialized stories that were later perfected by Charles Darken. Steele and Addison have the credit of bringing journal essays to maturity since such essays were the major content of these publications. The periodical also introduced the letter to the editor section which dominates even the present day newspapers. It promoted the interaction between the readers/ audience and writer/ author. It promoted the author-audience interaction further to include discussion of the emerging issues and the state of the nation as well as asking personal advice on disturbing matters. Steele's work established a column that dealt with love matters, as well as people's political opinion.
Apart from publishing and producing these periodicals, others who copied their idea in order to deliver certain issues to the society imitated their work. Therefore, this was the start of the journey to the growth of journalism. It took a social stand as most of the publications contained columns of encouragement, teaching about morality and self-discipline. Their work influenced other writers such as novelist Daniel Defoe and Charles Dickens and other periodicals in England and around Europe (Marr, 109). Female spectator of 1744 was a periodical that was targeted only for women. The short fiction stories, epistolary exchanges and serialized stories contained in the periodicals were, primarily, the foundation of the present day novels. To close the chapter on the importance of the 18th century periodical and specifically The Spectator, Benjamin Franklin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Mark Twain acknowledged the impact of this periodical in the development of their writing and thinking.
‘On The Scale of Being’ by Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison in his essay on a scale of being demonstrates the existence of God by the arrangement of design. He explained the natural world with man within it and all as a creation of God for its natural state and function. Known as the polite writer, Addison wrote extensively on the evidence of Christianity. He was a firm believer and accurate reasoned of the Christian faith. Addison treats science naturalistically and emphasis on imagination in the study of the subject. His intention was to show the defectiveness of imagination and show its proper limits. According to Addison, the compatibility of Christianity and science is through his work to harmonize the two in a belief that they both are rational subjects (Greenblatt, 84). As a philosopher, he contributed a lot in theology through his work such as in his essay, Evidences of the Christian Religion. He sees the soul/ life of man as to live in the world, ensure continuity of life, and make it better for the later generations who come after his death. In creating a better life, the soul is perfected as it nears to ascend to heaven to rest with its creator.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and M H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. a. New York: Norton, 2006. Print.
Marr, George S. The Periodical Essayists of the Eighteenth Century: With Illustrative Extracts from the Rarer Periodicals. London: J. Clarke & Co., limited, 1923. Print.
Richetti, John J. The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660-1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.