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Crites opposes rhyme in plays and argues that though the moderns excel in sciences, the ancient age was the true age of poetry.Lisideius defends the French playwrights and attacks the English tendency to mix genres.Neander gives his palm to the violation of the three unities because it leads to the variety in the English plays.
These four critical positions deal with five issues.
Eugenius (whose name may mean "well born") favors the moderns over the ancients, arguing that the moderns exceed the ancients because of having learned and profited from their example.
Dryden is a neoclassic critic, and as such he deals in his criticism with issues of form and morality in drama.
However, he is not a rule bound critic, tied down to the classical unities or to notions of what constitutes a "proper" character for the stage.
Neander speaks in favour of the Moderns and respects the Ancients; he is however critical of the rigid rules of dramas and favours rhyme.
Neander who is a spokesperson of Dryden, argues that ‘tragic-comedy’ (Dryden’s phrase for what we now call ‘tragi-comedy’) is the best form for a play; because it is closer to life in which emotions are heightened by mirth and sadness.
"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.
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).
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.