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Chapter I— Dryden the Playwright
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Chapter I—
Dryden the Playwright

In his serious plays Dryden employs theatrical designs, or a dramaturgy, that audiences of our own time may connect not with tragedy but with comedy. A single example will make clear what I mean. This is an episode from one of the most fascinating plays of the seventeenth century, The Conquest of Granada .

Dryden called The Conquest of Granada a tragedy, and wrote it in two parts, each of five acts. The events take place during the year 1492, when the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella are closing in on the last stronghold of the Moors in Granada. As Dryden tells the story, one of the Moorish ladies, named Lyndaraxa, has a monstrous ambition to be a queen. She also happens to be dazzlingly beautiful, irresistibly seductive, and diabolically treacherous. Lyndaraxa will marry anybody who can place her on a throne.

Regrettably, the king of Granada, Boabdelin, is already equipped with a bride; so Lyndaraxa cannot go straight to the top. But Boabdelin has a younger brother, Abdalla, who is ambitious and susceptible. Lyndaraxa therefore encourages Abdalla to overthrow Boabdelin. With the help of the lady's fellow


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tribesmen, Abdalla does dislodge the king, who takes refuge in the Alhambra.

Abdalla, intoxicated by his victory, gives us a lesson in the misplacement of confidence by establishing his beloved Lyndaraxa as governess of the citadel of the Albazyn. He himself leaves her there and proceeds to rejoin his embattled followers, planning now to kill his brother, the dethroned Boabdelin.

At this point, the real hero of the play, a Herculean young conqueror named Almanzor, chooses to shift sides; and so he comes to the aid of Boabdelin. Led by Almanzor, the royal forces now beat back those of the usurper; and Abdalla, after his moment in purple, flees alone to find safety in the fortress of the Albazyn. He innocently supposes that Lyndaraxa will do all she can to rescue and comfort the man who has sacrificed his honor in order to set a crown on her head.

As Abdalla approaches the Albazyn, he hails a sentry who then challenges him; and the following exchanges take place:

Soldier : What orders for admittance do you bring?

Abdalla : Slave, my own orders: look, and know the king.

Soldier : I know you; but my charge is so severe,
That none, without exception, enter here.

Abdalla : Traitor, and rebel! thou shalt shortly see
Thy orders are not to extend to me.

Lyndaraxa [above ]: What saucy slave so rudely does exclaim,
And brands my subject with a rebel's name?

Abdalla : Dear Lyndaraxa, haste; the foes pursue.

Lyndaraxa : My lord, the Prince Abdalla, is it you?
I scarcely can believe the words I hear;
Could you so coarsely treat my officer?

Abdalla : He forced me; but the danger nearer draws:
When I am entered, you shall know the cause.

Lyndaraxa : Entered! Why, have you any business here?

Abdalla : I am pursued, the enemy is near.

Lyndaraxa : Are you pursued, and do you thus delay
To save yourself? Make haste, my lord, away.

Abdalla : Give me not cause to think you mock my grief:
What place have I, but this, for my relief?

Lyndaraxa : This favour does your handmaid much oblige,


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But we are not provided for a siege:
My subjects few; and their provision thin;
The foe is strong without, we weak within.
This to my noble lord may seem unkind,
But he will weigh it in his princely mind;
And pardon her, who does assurance want
So much, she blushes when she cannot grant.

Abdalla : Yes, you may blush; and you have cause to weep.
Is this the faith you promised me to keep?
Ah yet, if to a lover you will bring
No succour, give your succour to a king.

Lyndaraxa : A king is he, whom nothing can withstand;
Who men and money can with ease command.
A king is he, whom fortune still does bless;
He is a king, who does a crown possess.
If you would have me think that you are he,
Produce to view your marks of sovereignty;
But if yourself alone for proof you bring,
You're but a single person, not a king.

Abdalla : Ungrateful maid, did I for this rebel?
I say no more; but I have loved too well.

Lyndaraxa : Who but yourself did that rebellion move?
Did I e'er promise to receive your love?
Is it my fault you are not fortunate?
I love a king, but a poor rebel hate.

Abdalla : Who follow fortune, still are in the right;
But let me be protected here this night.

Lyndaraxa : The place to-morrow will be circled round;
And then no way will for your flight be found.

Abdalla : I hear my enemies just coming on;
[Trampling within. ]
Protect me but one hour till they are gone.

Lyndaraxa : They'll know you have been here; it cannot be,
That very hour you stay, will ruin me:
For if the foe behold our interview,
I shall be thought a rebel too, like you.
Haste hence; and that your flight may prosperous prove,
I'll recommend you to the powers above.
( 1 The Conquest of Granada V, i, 9–66)

To the action I have just outlined and the dialogue I have quoted, the response of a modern reader is incredulity. Things


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do not happen like that, and Dryden makes small effort to persuade us that they do. Lyndaraxa's strength as a femme fatale is given, not documented. Abdalla's ambition may be acceptable, because we bring to the theater a belief that men naturally desire all the power they can get. But we do not nowadays believe that intense ambition is easily distracted by lust, or that an unconquerable warrior will change sides so impulsively as Almanzor does.

The suddenness of the turnabouts produces another unfortunate response in a modern reader. The action does not seem tragic or pathetic, or even serious. Our anxiety is hardly aroused on behalf of figures who expose themselves so often and unexpectedly to strenuous moral conflicts, especially when their moral ideals touch few chords in our modern sensibilities. The design of the drama might seem closer to comedy than to tragedy.

What is the charm that rescues Dryden's serious plays from these dangers? It is the use the poet makes of his opportunities. When Lyndaraxa gives her definition of a king—"he, whom fortune still [i.e., always] does bless," etc.—the toughness with which her aphoristic couplets defy moral principle resolves any doubt as to the ultimate implications of the episode. The lines reverberate with memories of 1649 and 1660. They challenge the listener to choose between law and force.

On Abdalla's side, the element of surprise gains interest from the workings of distributive justice. Whether we care for him or not, we must enjoy the sense that he deserves his ordeal not only for his treachery but for his gullibility as well.

There is another attraction more pervasive than the balance of cheat against cheat. This is the general level of Dryden's style. The refinement of Lyndaraxa's language makes a delicious contrast to the ugly audacity of her motives. Whether or not the scene be classified as serious, the attentive listener must enjoy the irony of sentences like,

This to my noble lord may seem unkind,
But he will weigh it in his princely mind.


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Such pleasures exist through the whole range of Dryden's serious plays, and they depend on his dramaturgy. Listeners who delight in them will tolerate the improbabilities in return for such benefits.

Other aspects of Dryden's genius appear in the scene I have quoted at such length. It may bring smiles to many lips, but it has a larger significance than a quick reader might suppose. One must enjoy the extraordinary modulations of emotion (which Dryden always prided himself on exhibiting). One must observe the continual shifts in Abdalla's tone, the steady revelation of Lyndaraxa's egoism. One must respond to the almost stichomythic debate—a standard feature of Dryden's dramaturgy—that marks the path to a reversal of our expectations. One must admire the ingenuity of Lyndaraxa's reasons, for Dryden prided himself on his powers of argument. "The favourite exercise of his mind was ratiocination," said Johnson.[1]

Contrary to what the ironies might suggest, Lyndaraxa will at last enjoy her own split second as a queen and will then suffer a dignified and moving death near the end of the second part of The Conquest of Granada . During the scene before us, her fate is visibly presaged. For she stands unmoving as she looks down securely from a wall of the Albazyn, and an isolated Abdalla paces the ground on foot as he humbly pleads below. Their relative levels and movements imply the relation of her power to his impotence; but they also foreshadow ironically her ultimate catastrophe as she falls from a brief height.

In this scene one must also come to understand that the dialogue implies serious political doctrine. The weakling Abdalla and the villainous Lyndaraxa misguidedly agree that kingship means power without responsibility, that fortune rather than providence raises men to royalty, that if rebellion succeeds, it legitimizes a usurper. In the course of the play, all these principles will be roundly contradicted; and when Granada falls to King Ferdinand, the reason will be not merely his military re-


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sources but also his legal right and divine sanction. Once more the echoes of 1649 and 1660 will be audible.

The scene therefore illustrates several features that I wish to examine further: Dryden's willingness to suspend probability and simplify character; his apparent wavering between comic and tragic modes; his fascination with modulations of tone; his employment of the play (from time to time) as a vehicle for political theory; his readiness to use spectacle to imply meaning, but his preference for rhetoric and poetic. The scene only touches on his theory of sexual passion and very faintly alludes to his view of religion—two other themes I shall deal with.

Before proceeding, I must comment on the genre of Dryden's serious plays. It would be an error to associate his use of the term "tragedy" with works like Oedipus Rex, Phèdre , or Othello . Shakespeare's Cymbeline and perhaps Coriolanus would come closer to Dryden's idea. Certainly, any number of plays by Beaumont and Fletcher would. For Dryden's methods of implying meanings in drama spring from an eagerness to produce certain effects—effects appropriate to romance.

Wonder was an emotion he enjoyed nourishing. In his plots he looked for opportunities to start one action after another with surprising yet continuous changes of direction. So he designed his plays around sudden reversals of behavior, transformations of emotion, ambivalent alternations of intention. Dryden delighted in ratiocinative debate and rhetorical display. Although his lines of action would not bear very complicated characters, he could infuse life into his people through the energy of their disputation, intellectual duels forcing the emotional permutations. One reason he favored double plots was that the movements of one set of characters could echo, undercut, or invert the implications of another.

So also to make quick changes of action and intention possible, Dryden devised plots that engaged polarities within polarities: one pair of lovers at cross purposes with another pair, all of them troubled by fathers who frown on their daughters' choices, and in addition with the suitors of both ladies caught up


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in tribal or partisan quarrels dividing a nation which is itself at war against an invader who lays claim to the throne. In the development of such a play, all the lovers can enjoy peripety upon peripety as the young men gain or lose battles or mistresses, arguments or thrones, honor or parental approval. The aim Dryden set himself was not to make such turns intrinsically probable, or expressive of inner character; rather, it was to expound the various oppositions in language so seductive that the issue of probability would seem irrelevant.[2]

Sexual passion is central to Dryden's scheme. In The Conquest of Granada , no sooner does King Boabdelin feel secure on his throne than he abandons himself to jealousy of the superlatively heroic Almanzor, because he quite correctly fears that Queen Almahide loves that mirror of knighthood. Yet as soon as an enemy threatens Boabdelin's rule, Almahide invokes Almanzor's bottomless devotion to herself, and spurs him yet once more into rescuing the loathed rival. To such oscillations only a certain concept of sexual passion is appropriate, and we shall shortly examine it.

But first I should like to point out the connection between the pleasure of debate and the pleasure found in surprising reversals. As the disputes of Dryden's characters proceed, their key terms tend to alter—indignation collapsing into remorse, loyalty changing to rebellion, love into hatred or jealousy. The course of the debate leads to a revelation of fresh facts about one of the antagonists, or to a recognition of his inner nature; and this then creates the longed-for peripety.

In The Conquest of Granada an admirable warrior named Ozmyn is hated by the father of the woman he adores; but he nobly defends that bitter old man, Selin, from the rage of his own father when all three meet during a battle. The audience has the pleasure of hearing a furious debate between Ozmyn and Abenamar, his own father, over the fate of Selin. In a rage, Abenamar leads his soldiers against both his son and old Selin, but only after a stichomythic exchange. When help arrives to


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repulse Abenamar, he renews the debate with a magnificently snarling climax:

By no entreaties, by no length of time,
Will I be won; but, with my latest breath,
I'll curse thee here, and haunt thee after death,
(2 The Conquest of Granada II, i, 69–71)

Abenamar must now withdraw, leaving Ozmyn with his beloved Benzayda and her father Selin.

Yet all the vocalizing is not wasted. The external force of combat, and the internal pressure of emotion given voice, work together on Selin with the force of revelation. He acknowledges at last the nobility of his daughter's admirer and is tearfully reconciled to Ozmyn. Here is a pattern that affords ample and fascinating scope for Dryden's talents, as emotions rise, sharpen, and transform themselves in furious repartee which then slides into elegantly pathetic self-analysis and moral conversion. We may now proceed to observe the pattern in Dryden's handling of sexuality, and thereby to understand why elementary carnal passion has so much work to do in Dryden's plays.

The turns and counterturns of Dryden's plots get their changing directions from the wills of the individual characters. These wills, however, must not be predictable, because Dryden's rhetoric and drama depend on surprise. Love therefore is brought to operate inside a personality as an energy matching the weight of domestic duties, tribal alliances, civil war, and foreign invasion outside the person. Public loyalties and betrayals collide with private lust and jealousy. Other passions—avarice, revenge, the thirst for power—are more steady and less capricious than the spasms of sex; they are weaker servants of Dryden's genius.

In Tyrannick Love a conjurer named Nigrinus is asked to foretell the outcome of the emperor's passion for the Princess Catherine of Alexandria. Nigrinus replies,

Of Wars, and Bloodshed, and of dire Events,
Of Fates, and fighting Kings, their Instruments,
I could with greater certainty foretell;


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Love only does in doubts and darkness dwell.
For, like a wind, it in no quarter stays;
But points and veers each hour a thousand ways.
On Women Love depends, and they on Will;
Chance turns their Orb while Destiny sits still.
(IV, 3–10)

Love determines action; and love must be sudden and uncontrollable, easily converted to jealousy or hate. If sexual passion were of slow growth, consistent, or predictable, it would undermine precisely those features of a play that fire Dryden's imagination. As an abrupt, totally engulfing flood, love and its mutations lend themselves to his genius; and in the undulations of these feelings Dryden displays the splendid resourcefulness of his language.

To allow the waves of feeling to move as far as possible, love must sink quickly into related passions. Jealousy and hatred are its undersides. When frustrated, the furious desire to love becomes a rage to kill. So in Tyrannick Love , Maximin's ardor for Catherine reacts from her disdain, to deliver her up to hideous tortures. Dryden is almost obsessional in his identification of love with death. This is not merely a metaphor or double entendre. At the point of its gratification sexual excitement dissolves the self as death does. The two experiences—death and sexual ecstasy—are alternative forms of the same loss of identity.

An example of what I mean appears in The Indian Emperour . The setting is Mexico during the Spanish invasion. The Emperor Montezuma has captured the virtuous Spanish general Cortez and imprisoned him in chains. An Indian princess Almeria, whom the emperor adores, wishes to avenge her dead brother and to save her country by murdering Cortez. Almeria gains access to the prison and finds Cortez asleep. Drawing a dagger, she wakes him up so he may suffer the terror of watching death approach. To her astonishment, he meets her threat without flinching.

The audience sees Almeria upright, dagger raised; Cortez beneath, loaded with chains. Precisely at this moment, with no warning of any sort, she falls in love with him. After quarreling


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with herself, she tries again to stab Cortez, but only lowers her dagger. The phallic symbolism of the weapon rising and falling suggests her emotional distraction. Love has smothered the wish for revenge; and Almeria abandons the plan of killing her nation's enemy.

What Dryden gains by this turn is the gorgeous opportunity to exhibit a frantic princess, exotically costumed, debating mind against heart over her sudden transformation, and then gradually, indirectly, revealing to the astonished Cortez, in spite of her shame, the cause of her passivity. As she does so, he responds with a matching inner conflict. A new frisson disturbs the love Cortez already has felt for Montezuma's daughter Cydaria. The struggle within Almeria's breast starts one within his own. After she leaves, the tormented Cortez thinks of Cydaria and ends the scene with a string of lapidary paradoxes:

In wishing nothing we enjoy still most;
For ev'n our wish is in possession lost:
Restless we wander to a new desire,
And burn our selves by blowing up the fire:
We toss and turn about our feav'rish will,
When all our ease must come by lying still:
For all the happiness mankind can gain
Is not in pleasure, but in rest from pain.
(IV, i, 107–14)

As an example of how sexual passion provides the fuel for Dryden's emotional fireworks and his marvelous reversals of direction, even the episode of Cortez and Almeria seems low-keyed when it is compared with another, in Dryden's superb play Aureng-Zebe . This time the setting is India, at the court of the Great Mogul in Agra, during the year 1660. The old emperor has, by his deceased first wife, a wholly admirable heir, Aureng-Zebe-brave, loyal, obedient. But his lusty second wife, Nourmahal, wishes her own son to succeed to the throne. Nourmahal is much younger than the septuagenarian emperor and finds him a contemptibly flaccid lover. In a sudden turn of the plot, her son Morat does win the emperor's approval, and Aureng-Zebe finds himself condemned to die. Nourmahal re-


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quests the privilege of poisoning him; the emperor consents; and the blameless hero is released in her recognizance.

Nourmahal is now left on stage with her favorite slave, to enjoy the prospect of indulging a merciless disposition. But she stuns the confidant—and the audience—by announcing that she loves Aureng-Zebe and expects to seduce him. In Act IV we discover the blameless victim awaiting his ambiguous doom in Nourmahal's chambers. When the empress enters, she of course procrastinates; and a long dialogue ensues in which Aureng-Zebe urges her to speed the execution while she wants him to feel grateful for the delay—which incidentally tickles the prurience of the listeners. It is characteristic of Dryden that sexual themes should inspire him with suggestive imagery and with plays on words. Nor is he above toying with the antique pun on "die." Nourmahal herself has made much of that handy device in the talk with her slave. During the debate with Aureng-Zebe, the association of love with death grows more and more ambiguously titillating. At one point the hero says,

I need not haste the end of Life to meet;
The precipice is just beneath my feet.

Nourmahal replies,

Think not my sense of Virtue is no small:
I'll rather leap down first, and break your fall.
(V, 51–54)

The audience of course is aware of the insinuation, but Aureng-Zebe is deliciously unresponsive. As he ignores his stepmother's heavy language, she must come closer and closer to declaring her incestuous lust until at last she fulsomely reports an aphrodisiac dream in which the goddess Venus reproached Aureng-Zebe for disregarding her caresses. Properly horrified, even the guileless hero now understands that he is to play Hippolytus to his stepmother's Phaedra. Though he tries to repel her intentions, Nourmahal has slipped beyond self-restraint, and persists in her blandishments until Dryden can finally offer us a gorgeous peripety, in which the love-death motif makes an


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unpredictable double somersault. Revolted by Nourmahal's infatuation, Aureng-Zebe tells her of his loathing. At once, she holds out a dagger and asks him to kill her. He refuses. At once she produces a cup of poison and asks him to drink it. One feels that an elemental rage is continuously at work, only shifting, as it is frustrated, from one outlet to another. The fury of love easily becomes the fury of suicide or murder; the phallic dagger gives way to the vaginal cup:

Aureng-Zebe : In me a horrour of my self you raise;
Curs'd by your love, and blasted by your praise.
You find new ways to prosecute my Fate;
And your least guilty passion was your Hate.

Nourmahal : I beg my death, if you can Love deny,
[Offering him a dagger .]

Aureng-Zebe : I'll grant you nothing; no, not ev'n to die.

Nourmahal : Know then, you are not half so kind as I.
[Stamps with her foot .]

[Enter mutes, some with swords drawn, one with a cup. ]
You've chosen, and may now repent too late.
Behold th'effect of what you wish'd, my hate.
This cup, a cure for both our ills has brought:
You need not fear a philtre in the draught.
[Taking the cup to present him. ]

Aureng-Zebe : All must be poison which can come from thee;
But this the least.
[Receiving it from her. ]
(IV, 153–65)

Of course, Aureng-Zebe is saved as he lifts the poison to his lips.

Thus we see once more how Dryden works out his pattern of debate, emotional climax, and peripety. We see how useful the capricious impulse of sexuality is for his purposes; and we hear how adequate his language is to the occasion. Another element is wanted to heighten the excitement. This is a hero whose response to love should be marvelous. It must not be one who gives himself normally to affairs of the heart. Tenderness should be the last attribute we expect of him. He must be not a Troilus but a Hotspur. His attachment must be to glory, not voluptuousness. In Tyrannick Love , when the elderly emperor Maximin


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finds himself unable to withstand the beauty of the princess Catherine, he says,

This love that never could my youth engage,
Peeps out his coward head to dare my age.
(III, 1–2)

So Dryden's heroes are larger than life. Their physical courage is unblemished. Their spirit is magnanimous. In fact, even a villain if he is grand enough, can stir us with his greatness of heart.[3] Such uncompromising, sublime natures devote themselves to duty, honor, reputation. When Almanzor, in The Conquest of Granada , looks on the face of Almahide, when he drops the tone of Achilles and talks like Orlando sickening for Angelica, our pleasure in his rhapsody depends on our regarding him as a fire-tempered warrior who lives without sensual indulgence. His submission to love is all the more wonderful and sudden:

Arms, and the dusty field I less admire,
And soften strangely in some new desire;
Honour burns in me not so fiercely bright,
But pales as fires when mastered by the light:
E'en while I speak and look, I change yet more,
And now am nothing that I was before.
I'm numbed, and fixed, and scarce my eyeballs move;
I fear it is the lethargy of love!
'Tis he; I feel him now in ev'ry part:
Like a new lord he vaunts about my heart;
Surveys, in state, each corner of my breast,
While poor fierce I, that was, am dispossessed.
(part 1, V, 323–34)

When I speak of the "adequacy" of the language to the occasion, I do not pretend that it peculiarly reveals a unique personality, or that it is close to the speech we might use in actually suffering the emotion. I mean that Dryden finds images


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and turns of phrase elegantly appropriate to the theme and the moment. When Almanzor wishes to kill himself, Almahide forbids him; and he replies,

What cause can I for living longer, give,
But a dull lazy habitude to live?

She urges him to treat his love for her as a brief infatuation, and to let it pass naturally:

'Twas but a dream; where truth had not a place:
A scene of fancy, mov'd so swift a pace
And shifted, that you can but think it was:
Let, then, the short vexatious vision pass.
(part 1, V, i, 414–15, 428–31)

Expressions like "dull lazy habitude to live" and "short vexatious vision" are fresh, memorable, and frequent in Dryden's plays. 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. This terminology can help us if we agree on the meaning of "epic" for Dryden. The trouble is that he was much influenced by a kind of epic that lacks the dignity we associate with the genre. The Iliad and the Aeneid are the first examples of epic that come to the modern mind. If we think of later works, Paradise Lost is what we know best. Dryden accepted these models. But he also said that he took his definition of a heroic play from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso ("Of Heroique Plays," para. 3). Now Ariosto's masterpiece is remote indeed from anything we might call tragedy. It is self-conscious, ironic, heroic, and pathetic by turns. Brave knights turn aside from glorious missions in order to pursue ravishing beauties. An imperial princess falls in love with a humble page and carries him off to be her prince. One


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plot casually interrupts another; the interrupted stories are unexpectedly renewed and continued. Low moods break in on high moods; magical and supernatural events of the greatest elaboration displace probable chains of action. The heroes of Orlando Furioso are more than human but are also subject to extraordinary whims, impulses, and changes of heart.

It is this tradition of ironic romance in which Dryden's most serious drama participates: a tradition of courtly, mannered acting out of chivalric ideals illuminated by Renaissance scepticism. It implies a nostalgia for the pure heroism of romance, along with a regretful criticism of it. Dryden and his audience recalled the uncompromising idealism that dragged England into civil war. They longed to recapture such sublimity in their imagination. They wished the royal court to color their lives with it. But they realized it would also be inappropriate to the stability of government and society on which the comfort of their lives depended. The mixture of warm admiration and ironic detachment explains Dryden's treatment of his superhuman characters.

We shall come back to Dryden's conception of a hero. But I have completed my sketch of his dramaturgy and will go on with his methods of implication. In trying to decide whether the doctrines expressed in a play are those of Dryden or of his characters, one meets tantalizing difficulties. First, Dryden produces his allusions or doctrines spasmodically. Every now and then he breaks into a passage of political implication, then returns simply to the action of his play. What is worse, he sometimes gives his own doctrines to evil characters. For one cannot be sure, simply because a character is reprehensible, that he always quarrels with the playwright. Besides, Dryden simply enjoyed arguing on both sides of a question. He prided himself on his ability to defend a point of view which in fact he disagreed with. As a result, one hears characters speaking very persuasively indeed for doctrines which the play invites us to resist.

A good example of the problem is a discussion of religious zeal in Tyrannick Love . The wicked, pagan emperor and his


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officer Placidius condemn Christianity in language that certainly refers to Puritanism:

The silly crowd, by factious teachers brought
To think that faith untrue their youth was taught,
Run on in new opinions blindly bold;
Neglect, contemn, and then assault the old.
(II, i, 143–56)

We could learn from passages in other works by Dryden that he wholly agreed with the sentiments of the monster, that he expected the audience to apply them not to the persecuted early Christians but to the Calvinist rebels of the 1640s. If we did not know the play was written to honor Queen Catherine, consort of Charles II, and that it was produced for spectators sympathetic with the court, the passage could become a crux of interpretation. But the nature of the audience and the attitude of the playwright are not in doubt, and neither is the implication of the speeches. In other words, the explication of the meaning depends not on rhetorical analysis but on the establishment of allusions to external reality—on context.

For purposes of implication, the obvious advantage of the drama is the use of spectacle to enrich meaning. One finds telling examples of this in Dryden's plays, especially when he deals with political or religious themes. Baroque stagecraft favored symbolic and sensational productions, which throve under royal patronage, as monarchs aspiring to absolutism imitated the visual and musical devices of the Counter-Reformation in order to strengthen their own association with divinity.

So it is natural that marvelous spectacular effects should have been among the strong appeals of Tyrannick Love . The story is that of St. Catherine of Alexandria defying the Roman emperor Maximin and converting his courtiers to Christianity. Dryden took advice from King Charles II when he wrote the play, and he intended the work as a compliment to Queen Catherine. Her majesty had been painted as St. Catherine five years before the play was produced; and the artist was the Belgian Huysmans, whose style has been described as "more nearly


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allied to the Continental Catholic Baroque than Lely's Protestant idiom."[4] Besides having spirits and an angel descending from above, and St. Catherine in her bed rising from below, the play offers a large scene of an elysium, commissioned at great expense from the painter Isaac Fuller.[5] The alliance of God, king, and playwright is remarkable.

In general, the very paraphernalia of royalty and court ceremony can dignify the idea of monarchy, a principle which belongs to the substance of tragedy and of history plays. It was natural for Dryden to find opportunities for implication through spectacle when he touched on political motifs; and he turned such opportunities to ingenious profit at the end of All for Love , when Serapion enters to see the bodies of Antony and Cleopatra enthroned, upright, in full regalia; for here we meet a visible sign that the empire of passion is more exalted than the empire of the world. In such spectacle, the judgment implied by the whole play is clarified and embodied.

An earlier stage of the quarrel between political responsibility and sensual indulgence is more subtly visible in Act III of All for Love . Here a train of pathetic appeals has been inching Antony away from sexual passion and toward statesmanship. A long-awaited peripety occurs as he turns back from an emotional debate with his wife Octavia to his other side, where an old, dear friend, Dolabella, stands. When Dolabella supports Octavia's call to duty, Antony turns again and finds his beloved officer Ventidius pleading with him. Octavia now produces Antony's two children and comes up before him with them: one little girl holds his arms; the other hugs his waist, making a vertical, triangular composition. Standing in the center of the larger triangle of his friends and his wife, and with the two little girls up against him, Antony looks at Ventidius, who cries, "Emperor"; next he looks at Dolabella, who cries, "Friend"; then at Octavia, who cries, "Husband," and finally at the children, who cry, "Father." The modulation is from the most


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public and dignified to the most private and pathetic obligations, with the emotional pressure symbolized by the two triangles, one within the other. When Antony yields to domestic morality, the geometrical figures dissolve.

Jean Hagstrum has suggested that the very balance of the debates (Cleopatra against Ventidius) and the symmetry of the groupings on Dryden's stage might suggest a traditional emblem of moral dilemmas, the Renaissance topos of the Choice of Hercules.[6] But of course, older traditions going back to the morality play would encourage the use of a visible contrast between right and wrong.

Normally, even in drama, Dryden relies on language to convey his meaning, whether explicit or implicit. His use of spectacle implies little, except as enhancement of the speeches. This principle certainly applies to Tyrannick Love , for all its stage effects. It is in a public debate that Catherine demonstrates the superiority of Christianity to paganism. Yet religion does offer opportunities that politics cannot surpass. Vestments and ceremonies produce their effect in the theater as in the church, although Dryden took little advantage of such opportunities. Once in a while, he adds ironies to a scene with ecclesiastical properties. In An Evening's Love two young Englishmen irreverently flirt with Spanish girls in a chapel. In The Spanish Friar and The Assignation religion and vice are paired in a time-honored, overripe lubricity. But there are more interesting examples. I shall give one from The Indian Emperour .

Here, in Act V, a remarkable discussion of natural religion takes place. In the middle of the stage are Montezuma, the captured emperor of Mexico, and his high priest, both of them stretched on racks, with a torturer apiece ready to tighten the cords that pull their bones out of the joints. On one side, a Spanish priest confronts the Mexican priest; on the other side, the greedy conquistador Pizarro confronts Montezuma.

In order to make the emperor tell where his gold is hidden, the Spaniards order the torturers to rack the prisoners. The


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Christian priest urges them to tighten the cords and warns Montezuma that he will suffer even worse pains in hell. A debate now follows between the native priest and the European, as to the merits of Roman Catholicism and the Mexicans' faith. It is the layman Montezuma who intervenes between the quarreling clerics to recommend a natural religion more universal, rational, and reliable than that of Christian revelation.

The visible scene clearly favors the central, martyred Mexicans and depreciates the flanking Europeans. With his uncorrupted, primitive reason, Montezuma also rises above the limitations of both churchmen. At the same time, he shows more courage and endurance than his own high priest, who dies under torture after behaving himself ignominiously. When the magnanimous Cortez enters, he at once puts an end to the torture and releases Montezuma. But the broken emperor cannot walk. As Cortez helps him down, he embraces Montezuma and cries out,

Ah! Father! Father! what do I endure
To see these wounds my pity cannot cure.
(V, ii, 117–18)

The parallel with Christ is inescapable; the spectacle must remind the audience of the descent from the cross; and the implication is obvious: that virtuous laymen and uncorrupted reason are closer to true Christianity than the greed, ambition, and hypocrisy of priests.

A far subtler handling of spectacle occurs in the last act of Don Sebastian , when Alvarez tries to caution the hero and heroine against the danger of incest. After a series of speeches dealing with the marriages of their parents, he has Dorax produce a document in which the father of Sebastian confesses his involvement with the mother of Almeyda. When even this evidence is scorned and destroyed by the furious girl, Alvarez falls back on the rings that each of the young couple wears. As he stands priestlike before the pair, takes the rings, and puts them together, the old man enacts a reversal of the wedding ritual. In dumb show he anticipates the revelation that the sacra-


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ment of matrimony has been violated, and he foreshadows the denouement of the play.

If we now go on from religion to politics, we are again reminded what a delicate matter it is to know whether or not a dramatic character is conveying the playwright's doctrine. When we are blessed, the author grants us some signal that we are to expect political allusions. Once we are alerted and look for parallels between the drama and public events, such parallels will commonly appear as material not perfectly assimilated—sentiments not necessary to the characterizations or the action. They should of course reinforce one another; the same point of view should emerge from the various allusions. Yet this seldom means that the allusions will be continuous, or that we may interpret any long section of the play systematically as implying doctrine. Like allegory, political allusion is discontinuous, bowing to the strength of the narrative line. Normally, one has no warning of the correspondences that leap out.

I can illustrate my meaning with an excellent play that Dryden wrote when he was almost sixty years old. The poet could no longer speak out loud and clear on politics. His patron, the Roman Catholic James II had fled, now lived in exile, and was fighting vainly to win back his throne. The new king was James's own son-in-law, the Dutch Calvinist William III, who had replaced Dryden as poet laureate by Shadwell, his ancient enemy. Dryden, now a Roman Catholic himself, with little money and no power, could not openly argue in support of James. But he could sneer at those who had deserted his royal master after accepting royal favors. He could also sneer at those who followed the new king for the sake of the riches and titles he might heap on them.

Dryden opens his play Amphitry on with a prologue bemoaning recent efforts to weaken political satire; and he refers in it to another prologue of his, so provocative that the government suppressed it. This signal he immediately amplifies with the first 150 lines of his play, in which Jupiter is described as an earthly king, the family of gods sounds like a royal court, and the relations between Jupiter and the inferior gods are expressed


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as those between a king and his subjects. These analogies have nothing to do with the main action of the play; and yet the references to the English government are sometimes dagger-edged.

After this section, the listener must be hard of hearing to miss the parallels. Jupiter and Mercury become, at moments, spokesmen for the English court and the parliamentary opposition just after the Glorious Revolution. As an instance of how far Dryden could go, I shall only mention a passage openly comparing Apollo to the English landed gentry, who disapprove of the government but lack the persistence and energy wanted to carry through their policies.

But you Brother Phoebus, are but a meer Country Gentleman, that never comes to Court; that are abroad all day on Horseback, making Visits about the World; are drinking all Night, and in your Cups are still rayling at the Government: O these Patriots, these bumpkin Patriots, are a very silly sort of Animal.
(I, i, 133–43)

In general, the allusions are censorious, as a quiet political implication is likely to be; for one normally shouts compliments to those in power, but murmurs insults. Dryden's implications range over the usual complaints of the country party against the self-servers in Westminster: the tyranny, avarice, injustice, and irresponsibility of the king,[7] the frivolity and treachery of the courtiers,[8] the unsteadiness of the opposition,[9] the corruption of the judiciary,[10] the hypocrisy of priests,[11] and the uniform venality of mankind. It is not an idealized picture of the institutions of government.

The play went into production about a year and a half after the Glorious Revolution, and only a few months after the two kings—William III and James II—collided in Ireland at the head of their armies: both crowned heads were now asking their confused and bitterly divided people to acknowledge them.


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Keeping the chaotic situation in mind, I am tempted to brood over larger possibilities; and I shall just touch on these.

In the play, Amphitryon returns home from war to find another person occupying his own place. This is the king of the gods, Jupiter, who has decided to exercise Amphitryon's prerogatives in the bedchamber. Jupiter takes care, of course, to look exactly like the man whose place he is usurping. He also distributes money and gifts freely and wins over the servants of the family. Dryden draws an explicit parallel between women who sell their bodies and statesmen in power; the word "ends" in the passage is a pun:

All seek their ends; and each wou'd other cheat.
They onely seem to hate, and seem to love;
But int'rest[12] is the point on which they move.
Their friends are foes; and foes are friends agen;
And, in their turns, are knaves, and honest men.
Our iron age is grown an age of gold:
'Tis who bids most; for all men wou'd be sold.
(IV, 551–57)

This speech is delivered by the presiding genius of the age—Mercury, god of thieves.

At the end, in a traditional use of spectacle, both the true Amphitryon and the false appear on the stage at once, with exactly the same appearance, and with both claiming to be head of the household. Hence my larger possibilities. It seems significant that the servants join the false Amphitryon, Jupiter, who has been so free with his bribes. The true Amphitryon has no claim on them except his virtues, his integrity and legitimacy. Is Dryden trying to account for the failure of the English people to rally behind his own patron (and their rightful king)?

In the splendidly comic scenes of the last act there are touches of pathos. When Charles II first came home from exile, Dryden celebrated his restoration in Astraea Redux by describing him as a bridegroom and England as a languishing bride. But here the true spouse is cast out, and his wife takes a


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pretender into her bed. It is spectacle (a device appropriate to royalty) that brings out the implications; for we see the two Amphitryons juxtaposed, matching various sorts of evidence, and both of them refusing to yield. We also see it is the true Amphitryon who shows the heroic, impetuous character of figures like Almanzor; and alas we see it is the false Amphitryon who has the upper hand. Heroism is out of style along with integrity and legitimacy. A pharaoh reigns who knows not Joseph.

The nature of Dryden's interest in sexual passion did not make it easy for him to use spectacle as a means of implying his attitudes. But if voyeurism could not be fed with a twentieth-century diet, other proclivities could be. As love, hate, and jealousy clash—in Dryden's plays—with various kinds of obligation (revenge, patriotism, filial obedience), they suggest a division between pagan and Christian morality which at times can become explicit, as in Tyrannick Love , and lead us into religious themes. Dryden often deepens the idea of genital pleasure by the ancient bond between piety and sexual passion; for he evokes a doctrine of the sacredness of voluptuous indulgence. The joys of love become in his language not an embellishment of life but the focus of life.

In fact, Dryden's concept of sexual passion rarely escapes from the pagan mode. For him, what seems most fascinating in love is the change that comes over the mind when voluptuous desire takes possession of it—i.e., the undifferentiated carnal impulse. So consistent is Dryden's attitude that I think we may generalize it as implying a doctrine, and assert that for him the common denominator of all sexual relations was so great as to make ordinary distinctions seem trifling. When Almahide offers Almanzor sisterly tenderness in place of the physical ardor that drives him, he replies,

`A sisters love! that is so pall'd a thing!
What pleasure can it to a lover bring?
'Tis like thin food to men in feavours spent;
Just keeps alive; but gives no nourishment.
(1 The Conquest of Granada V, i, 448–51)


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Whether the emotion struck high personages or comic butts, worldly courtiers or pastoral innocents, whether it was natural or perverse, so long as it sprang from physical gratification—the delights of foreplay and orgasm—the appetite for that experience would constitute the defining principle of the relationship; and the relationship becomes, with military actions, one of the central metaphors of Dryden's poetry. War translates into love; love into war; monarch and nation are man and wife. So Mars and Venus blend and serve as the primary metaphors for religion and politics. "Amo; ergo sum," says Dryden.

Yet the theater of the 1690s was not so enlightened as to tolerate the visible enactment of sexual passion that we take for granted today. As if to compensate for the lack of voyeurist spectacle, Dryden elaborated the provocations of language. Restricted to these, he made his vocabulary crackle with ambiguity, innuendo, and double meaning. One is seldom mistaken when one imagines that the poet is being obscene. Never is his diction so evocative as when he treads the brink of pornography. Puns and metaphors start overtones until the listener feels divided between surprise at the poet's coarseness and fascination with his implications. When Lyndaraxa, as governess of the Albazyn, tries to seduce Almanzor, she offers him the citadel and her sexual parts in the same language, and even hints at being made pregnant by his "coming":

Enter, brave sir; for, when you speak the word,
These gates will open of their own accord.
The genius of the place its lord will meet:
And bend its tow'ry forehead to your feet.
That little cittadel, which now you see,
Shall then, the head of conquer'd nations be:
And every turret, from your coming, rise
The mother of some great metropolis.

When Almanzor refuses, because of his attachment to Almahide, he uses imagery suggesting castration, and Lyndaraxa responds with allusions to the darkness and closeness of the sexual act, adding a pun on "charity":


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Almanzor : My love's now grown so much a part of me,
That life would, in the cure, endanger'd be.
At least it like a limb cut off would show;
And better dye than like a cripple goe.

Lyndaraxa : You must be brought like mad men to their cure;
And darkness first and next new bonds endure:
Do you dark absence to your self ordain:
And I, in charity, will find the chain.
(2 The Conquest of Granada III, iii, 92–99, 136–43)

This figurative language is not tender or gentle but violent and swift, evoking sudden victories in war, or flooded rivers quickly overflowing. The poet plays constantly with the image of fire bursting out, dying down, smouldering, and flaring up. 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 floods—phenomena 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. It is meaning that he illuminates, a concept of love that applies to heroes in general. The vehicles of his metaphors—flames, storms—rely on familiar emblems which an audience can identify and interpret without regard to the unique character.[13]

In many passages we may observe how the absence of visible gestures only brightens the implications of Dryden's words. So in Tyrannick Love the brutal emperor Maximin is audibly phallic in telling how he responds to the beauty of Catherine:

My Love shoots up in tempests, as the Earth
Is stirr'd and loosen'd in a blust'ring wind,
Whose blasts to waiting flowers her womb unbind.
(III, 6–8)

Again, in the First Part of The Conquest of Granada , when Almanzor stands in place and stares fixedly at Almahide, his


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imagery is both reductive and fast-moving; it puns on the language of sexual climax:

Nay, I am Love; Love shot, and shot so fast,
He shot himself into my breast at last.
(III, 373–74)

The spasmodic repetitions of "love" and "shot," the lingering echoes of "fast" in "breast" and "last," suggest the moment of emission.

So also in Aureng-Zebe , when the prince gives vent to his passion for Indamora, there is nothing soulful in the style:

Oh, I could stifle you, with eager haste!
Devour your kisses with my hungry taste! . . .
Then hold you off and gaze! then, with new rage,
Invade you, till my conscious limbs presage
Torrents of joy, which all their banks o'erflow!
So lost, so blest, as I but then could know!
(IV, 535–42)

Once more, the imagery of invasion followed by that of fluid overflowing suggests ejaculation. In the whole passage of violent emotion, there is no word of tender sympathy with the beloved.

Dryden's ultimate reliance on language, rather than visible scene or gesture, gives him immense verve when his themes coincide—when sexuality, religion, and politics are blended in a climactic (if you will pardon the word) episode. The ending of Don Sebastian is such a moment. In this play the literary style abounds in eccentric images supporting eccentric themes. What dominates the language is a cluster of motifs inverting healthy human relationships.

The most interesting character, Dorax, sets the tone by speaking with a bitterness nourished by a distrust of all men. In an early scene an emblem of bestiality takes over the stage when Antonio, the main character of the secondary plot, must show himself off as an animal, compelled to go down on all fours and put himself through the paces of a horse. Perverse sexuality tinges the story. Dorax twice accuses other men of being homosexual. The hero and heroine commit incest.


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Private and public treachery fill the action. Dorax himself, furious with the failure of his king, Don Sebastian, to reward his services, had deserted that admirable monarch, turned Mohammedan, and entered the service of the depraved Emperor of Barbary. A statesman and a priest poison Dorax independently but at the same time. The chief minister of the emperor persuades the latter's brother to overthrow him but only so the minister may then overthrow the brother. The Mufti, religious leader of the Moors, is a shameless hypocrite who uses religion as a screen for lust, avarice, and a thirst for power. (One thinks of the charges brought against Bishop Burnet by his enemies at the court of William III.) The motifs of salvation and damnation recur in the play but are turned about. Love and death are explicitly identified. The hero Sebastian is devoutly Catholic but loves a Moslem princess and almost commits the sin of suicide.

It is suggestive of Dryden's poetic instincts that he should not prepare for the denouement of his plot by a dramatic chain of probable motivations and causes—causes derived from essential character and leading one into the other—but rather by a cumulation of themes, images, and foreshadowings, by symmetries and reversals, that amass the figurative language to be employed in the final scenes. Almeyda is converted to Christianity in a mirror image of the renegadism of Dorax. She speaks of killing herself to avoid yielding to the emperor's passion, but Sebastian warns her that Christians may not commit suicide:

Brutus and Cato might discharge their Souls,
And give 'em Furlo's for another World:
But we, like Centry's, are oblig'd to stand
In starless Nights, and wait the 'pointed hour.
(II, i, 526–29)

She says her love for Sebastian is not carnal but sisterly:

Mine is a flame so holy, and so clear,
That the white taper leaves no soot behind;
No smoak of Lust; but chast as Sisters love,


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When coldly they return a Brothers kiss,
Without the zeal that meets at lovers mouths.
(II, i, 576–80)

Sebastian's speech anticipates his own furious attempt at suicide in the fifth act. The imagery of Almeyda's speech anticipates not only the discovery of incest but her own eventual fate, which is to become a nun. When Sebastian makes his attempt, it is not Almeyda who dissuades him but Dorax, who by then has indeed a chaste but burning love for his monarch, reviving the devotion of the dead Henriquez. Meanwhile, Almeyda's affection has become profoundly passionate love, in preparation for the linkage with death.

The most elaborate reversal of the play takes place between Dorax and Sebastian. 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.
(V, 526–32)

In the course of their highly charged debate, Dorax also picks up the imagery Sebastian had used in making the same case with Almeyda; but he transforms the "starless nights" into "black voluptuous slumber," in which Sebastian could figuratively keep his beloved always in his arms (V, 512–13)—an image uniting the dissolution of sexual climax and that of death.

Sexual passion, religious zeal, and political loyalty are thus forced together in the rhetoric and conduct of the three main characters. At the beginning of Act V there is a moment of explicitly Edenic rejoicing, when it looks as if the issues con-


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nected with these motifs are fortunately resolved. Almeyda is settled on her throne; the pious Sebastian seems blessedly married to his Christian bride; their loyal courtiers surround them. The apparent resolution is, however, mere Sophoclean irony; for all the horrors are unleashed in the denouement with its revelation of incest.

The joyful imagery of creation and paradise might suggest the delight of the English royal court (10 June 1688) at the blessing bestowed on James II and his bride when the Prince of Wales was born—a joy that gave way to despair as the daughter of the king turned against her father, while her husband successfully invaded England, and the royal family fled into exile—a year before Dryden's play was produced. Perhaps it was this inversion of the natural order, with England's political leaders playing renegade, her bishops joining the usurper, and her people rejecting their monarch, that underlay the disgust and disorder evoked by the imagery of Don Sebastian .

The play also seems to recall the motifs of The Conquest of Granada , though in a mood of cynicism. On several counts Sebastian and his darling Almeyda are like Almanzor and Almahide. Almahide forbids Almanzor to kill himself, and he rejects her offer of sisterly tenderness (part 1, V, i, 411–12, 448–53). In both plays the lovers yearn for the purely voluptuous ecstasy of sexual passion. The conflict of Christianity and Mohammedanism is central to both, keeping the lovers apart, yet bringing them together. In The Conquest of Granada , as in Don Sebastian , the heroine surrenders a throne while securing the hero.[14]

I think Dryden implicitly invites us to compare the fate of ideal, uncompromising heroism in the plays. With Don Sebastian he seems to contemplate for a last, miserable time the ideal which he had ambiguously recommended twenty years before. In The Conquest of Granada , Almanzor had represented a principle of unsullied, magnanimous will, admirable in itself, but unsuitable for a stable government. The hero discovered his true father in


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the Christian commander of the Christian king's troops, and himself joined the establishment of the Spanish monarch. Thus a warrior modeled on both Achilles and James II himself (as Duke of York) entered the service of a prudent ruler.

At the end of Don Sebastian , when the young king decides to go into hiding, he leaves only an insignificant uncle to fill the throne of Portugal. His own chief officer Dorax unwillingly obeys the command of the abdicating monarch and remains in an impoverished world, mourning the loss of his ideal. We know that the historical Don Sebastian, who died in battle, left behind a party of supporters who hoped for his return as the English Jacobites hoped for that of James. If The Conquest of Granada alludes to the early career of James, Don Sebastian alludes to the later; for the battle of the royal hero on foreign soil, against an emperor who belongs to another religion, certainly points to the war between James II and William III in Ireland.[15]

The striking feature of Sebastian from our point of view is double. Unlike Almanzor he is not a hero of obscure origin challenging an order in power. He is himself an established monarch occupying his rightful throne, but at last renouncing it for a monastery. The reason is no conscious vice or crime, no lack of courage, piety, or great-heartedness, but the accident of unwittingly consummating a marriage with his own sister. The advantage of incest for the tragedian's purposes is that it happens to be among the very few horrifying, mortal sins which a Christian can commit in perfect ignorance, if only because he has been cut off from his sister or mother so early, so completely, and so long that he cannot identify her. This then is one of those crimes of love occasioned by "necessity or fatal ignorance" for which Dryden yearned as a means of insuring the pity of an audience for a royal, tragic hero.[16] It supplies a tragic flaw


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that does not weaken the moral authority of the protagonist. So we have a nearly perfect king who nevertheless gives up his kingship.

The long, last scene, in which Sebastian tries to end his life but is persuaded instead to obliterate himself from history, suggests a withdrawal from fact into myth. This effect is strengthened by Dryden's rhetoric and imagery, the association of sex with death, of life with penance, of royal power with sin. The reversals and symmetries of the action further stylize the quality of the play and help with the other elements to recall the ideal implications of the romance tradition, the regret that the world as it exists does not deserve a hero so exalted as Sebastian. Kingship, in Dryden's conception—true kingship—is too good for the English people. It is no longer a viable institution.

In Don Sebastian , therefore, Dryden says goodbye not merely to the heroism of romance and Almanzor, or to the ironical joys of nostalgia. He says goodbye to the very possibility of heroism, the idea itself. A world of bestiality and perverse sexuality, of renegade bishops and traitorous statesmen, can no longer bear the light of the values cherished by the poet. The king should be the fountain of honor. When Dryden implicitly suggests that monarchy in any valid form cannot survive the degeneracy of his countrymen, he treats the king's failure as a judgment against them, not him. For Dryden, it is not the exile who is impoverished; it is the world.


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