Monday, 4 January 2021

Absalom and Achitophel: Worksheet

 Absalom and Achitophel: John Dryden



1. The Original Poem

2. Introduction and other information:


Absalom and Achitophel, verse satire by English poet John Dryden published in 1681. The poem, which is written in heroic couplets, is about the Exclusion crisis, a contemporary episode in which anti-Catholics, notably the earl of Shaftesbury, sought to bar James, duke of York, a Roman Catholic convert and brother to King Charles II, from the line of succession in favour of the king’s illegitimate (but Protestant) son, the duke of Monmouth. Dryden based his work on a biblical incident recorded in 2 Samuel 13–19. These chapters relate the story of King David’s favourite son Absalom and his false friend Achitophel (Ahithophel), who persuades Absalom to revolt against his father. In his poem, Dryden assigns each figure in the crisis a biblical name; e.g., Absalom is Monmouth, Achitophel is Shaftesbury, and David is Charles II. Despite the strong anti-Catholic tenor of the times, Dryden’s clear and persuasive dissection of the intriguers’ motives helped to preserve the duke of York’s position.

A second part of the poem—largely composed by Nahum Tate, playwright and poet laureate of Britain, but containing 200 lines by Dryden that were directed at his literary rivals Thomas Shadwell and Elkanah Settle—was published in 1682. (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Absalom and Achitophel is a celebrated satirical poem by John Dryden, written in heroic couplets and first published in 1681. The poem tells the Biblical tale of the rebellion of Absalom against King David; in this context it is an allegory used to represent a story contemporary to Dryden, concerning King Charles II and the Exclusion Crisis (1679–1681). The poem also references the Popish Plot (1678) and the Monmouth Rebellion (1685). Click her to learn more.

3. Analysis of the Poem: Absalom and Achitophel:

John Dryden’s publication of Absalom and Achitophel (1681) had a specific political motivation. He wrote the poem during the threat of revolution in England, connected to the so-called Popish plot and the move to exclude the reigning King Charles II’s Catholic brother, James, duke of York, from his right to follow the Protestant Charles to the throne. The protesting faction supported instead Charles’s bastard son, James, duke of Monmouth, whom Charles recognized as his son but not his heir. Born in the Netherlands to Lucy Walter, James was a product of only one of many sexual liaisons of his mother’s. While rumors existed that Charles had secretly married Lucy, granting legitimacy to James, others insisted that James could not even be proved Charles’s son. Charles never produced an heir with his wife, the Portuguese Catherine of Brangaza. Although Lucy followed Charles to England, where James was raised a pampered member of the court and eventually made a duke, she had died before Charles married Catherine. (Click here to read full analysis) 

4.Themes:

(i) 

Politics, Allegory, and Satire


5. Character Study:

 6. Allegorical Reference to People and Places:


7. Video Resources on Absalom and Achitophel

(i) The Audio Book
 

(ii) Introducing John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel by Dr. Oindrila Ghosh
 

(iii) 
 

(iv)


8. Check your understanding: Appear in Online Test

9. Video Recording of Online Classes


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