Dryden prescriptive in nature, defines dramatic art as an imitation with the aim to delight and to teach, and is considered a just and lively image of human nature representing its passions and humors for the delight and instruction of mankind. "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden: An Overview." Bachelorand Master, 25 Jan.
Dryden emphasizes the idea of decorum in the work of art.
In the enforced leisure which his residence at Charlton during the plague brought him, he thought over the whole sub ject, and this Essay of Dramatic Poesy was the result.
In the course of time Dryden modified more or less the judgment in favour of rhyme which he had given in the Essay.
Lisideius argues that French drama is superior to English drama, basing this opinion of the French writer's close adherence to the classical separation of comedy and tragedy.
For Lisideius "no theater in the world has anything so absurd as the English tragicomedy; in two hours and a half, we run through all the fits of Bedlam." Neander favors the moderns, but does not disparage the ancients.Is the sense of the verses tied down to, and limited by, the rhymes, or are the rhymes in service to, and an enhancement of, the sense of the verses?The main point of Dryden's essay seems to be a valuation of becoming (the striving, nature-imitating, large scope of tragicomedy and Shakespeare) over being (the static perfection of the ideal-imitating Classical/French/Jonsonian drama).Nevertheless his original contention, however under the pressure of dejection, and the sense perhaps of flagging powers, he may afterwards have been willing to abandon it, cannot be lightly set aside as either weak or unimportant; a point on which I shall have something to say presently. In connexion with it the speaker deals with the fourth point, assuming without proof that regard to the unities of Time and JPlace, inasmuch as it tends to heighten tjip illusion of reality, must placejthe authors who pay it above those w Eo~negkct it. Five critical questions are handled in the Essay, viz. \Eugenius J(Lord Buckhurst) answers him, pointing out the narrow range of the Greek drama, and several defects which its greatest admirers cannot deny. Dryden wrote this essay as a dramatic dialogue with four characters Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius and Neander representing four critical positions.These four critical positions deal with five issues." Neander respond to the objections against rhyme by admitting that "verse so tedious" is inappropriate to drama (and to anything else)."Natural" rhymed verse is, however, just as appropriate to dramatic as to non-dramatic poetry: the test of the "naturalness" of rhyme is how well-chosen the rhymes are.An Essay of Dramatic Poesy gives an explicit account of neo-classical theory of art in general.Dryden is a neoclassic critic, and as such he deals in his criticism with issues of form and morality in drama.