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It is called the Age of Dryden, because Dryden was the dominating and most representative literary figure of the Age.As the Puritans who were previously controlling the country, and were supervising her literary and moral and social standards, were finally defeated, a reaction was launched against whatever they held sacred.They, therefore, show Dryden’s power and skill of defending any position he took up, and his mastery in presenting an argument in verse.
The first was written when Dryden was a Protestant, and it defends the Anglican Church.
The second written when Dryden had become a Catholic, vehemently defends Catholicism.
Under his guidance, the English writers evolved a style—precise, formal and elegant—which is called the classical style, and which dominated English literature for more than a century.n Dryden (1631-1700).
The Restoration poetry was mostly satirical, realistic and written in the heroic couplet, of which Dryden was the supreme master.
The result was that the old Elizabethan spirit with its patriotism, its love of adventure and romance, its creative vigor, and the Puritan spirit with its moral discipline and love of liberty, became things of the past.
For a time in poetry, drama and prose nothing was produced which could compare satisfactorily with the great achievements of the Elizabethans, of Milton, and even of minor writers of the Puritan age.The two great doctrinal poems of Dryden are Religio Laici and The Hind and the Panther.These poems are neither religious nor devotional, but theological and controversial.In Absolem and Achitophel, which is one of the greatest political satires in the English language, Dryden defended the King against the Earl of Shaftesbury who is represented as Achitophel.It contains powerful character studies of Shaftesbury and of the Duke of Buckingham who is represented as Zimri.It emphasized directness and simplicity of expression, and counteracted the tendency of exaggeration and extravagance which was encouraged during the Elizabethan and the Puritan ages.Instead of using grandiloquent phrases, involved sentences full of Latin quotations and classical allusions, the Restoration writers, under the influence of French writers, gave emphasis to reasoning rather than romantic fancy, and evolved an exact, precise way of writing, consisting of short, clear-cut sentences without any unnecessary word.But then the writers of the period began to evolve something that was characteristic of the times and they made two important contributions to English literature in the form of realism and a tendency to preciseness.In the beginning realism took an ugly shape, because the writers painted the real pictures of the corrupt society and court.The poetry of Dryden can be conveniently divided under three heads—Political Satires, Doctrinal Poems and The Fables.Of his political satires, Absolem and Achitophel and The Medal are well-known.