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Wish-fulfillment fantasies in Dryden's Aureng-Zebe.

But wishes, Madam, are extravagant. They are not bounded with things possible: I may wish more then I presume to tell: Desire's the vast extent of humane mind.

--Aureng-Zebe, 2.1.52-55

The prologue and the dedication to Dryden's Aureng-Zebe, staged at the Royal Theatre in the late fall of 1675, announce the playwright's growing disaffection with writing rhymed heroic plays. "What Verse can do, he has perform'd in this, / Which he presumes the most correct of his," Dryden proclaims in the prologue, already beginning the process of dissociating himself from the genre he had championed so vigorously over the past seven years as the mode through which he and his generation might challenge the Jacobeans' blank-verse tragedies. (1) Aureng-Zebe is widely considered the best of Dryden's heroic plays, a judgment he affirms and simultaneously devalues in the punctilious phrasing with which he delivers his own measured verdict on the play's verse. His emphasis falls instead on the labor Dryden has invested in writing Aureng-Zebe and, by extension, in promoting heroic drama. "OUR Author ... / out of no feign'd modesty, this day, / Damns his laborious Trifle of a Play" (1-4) he declares in his prologue, and in the dedication Dryden describes himself as the "Sisyphus of the Stage" (12:154) in mounting an extended comparison to the classical figure most associated with tortuous and repetitive fruitless labor. As James A. Winn has argued, the half-decade spanning 1673 to 1677 represents a period of crisis as Dryden, now in his forties, reconsidered his commitment to writing for the stage, floated (unsuccessfully) the possibility of writing an epic poem in the royalist cause under the long shadow of Milton's Paradise Lost, faced the troubled financial state of the floundering Royal Theatre, and reflected on his deteriorating relations with both his wife Elizabeth and his mistress, Anne Reeves, an actress who was cast in minor roles in the company. (2) In the prefatory texts to Aureng-Zebe, that crisis comes to a head in Dryden's recognition of a terminus point in his experiment with rhymed heroic drama. Embedded in his prologue is a self-depreciating reference to the sham war in heaven, where Mihon's God summarily suspends the battle with the words, "War wearied hath perform'd what War can do": (3) Dryden too has apparently wearied of demonstrating "what Verse can do" in his contest with his Jacobean precursors.

Recent scholarship has focused on the heroic plays' political and ideological investments. (4) Dryden's plays invite and reward such allegorical readings as have been proposed, and, as Bridget Orr has argued in Empire on the English Stage, 1660-1714, "Contemporary audiences expected heroic poems to be allegorical, offering several layers of meaning, and could be expected to recognize that such texts had multiple significations." (5) As a Stuart propagandist over some forty years, Dryden found himself enmeshed in the nation's recurring succession crises and in the lingering unresolved trauma of the English civil wars, a trauma that was repeatedly revived for him with the varying fortunes of the Stuarts. Dryden's plays address domestic political crises through their quasi-transparent coded allegories; the heroic plays also, as Orr has convincingly shown, explore the anxieties and fantasies associated with England's growing economic and cultural imperialism. The heroic play, both as a peculiarly Restoration genre and in the hands of its most skilled practitioner, Dryden, sustains multiple--and ultimately interrelated--allegorical readings, to which I will add another, an investigation of Aureng-Zebe as a play dramatizing Dryden's conflicted responses to his Jacobean dramatic precursors through its double oedipal plot. Aureng-Zebe also heralds a new direction in Dryden's career as a playwright. After 1675, he no longer writes or promotes rhymed heroic drama, but instead turns to embrace a different career path for the next four years predicated on emulating "the Divine Shakespeare; which that I might perform more freely, I have dis-incumber'd my self from Rhyme" (13:18).

My own approach will focus on a largely unremarked aspect of Dryden's Aureng-Zebe: the prominent wish-fulfillment fantasies of its protagonists. Dryden translates and embellishes on the preoccupations of his prefatory texts in the plot of Aureng-Zebe where, in a departure from his earlier dramatic practice, he splits his protagonist into two figures, brothers who embody opposing versions of a fantasized relation to the father. The timing of this splitting of the heroic prototype is crucial to Dryden's renegotiation of his own relation to his Jacobean "fathers." In the case of Aureng-Zebe, Dryden's loyalist hero, the son's wishes are invested with enormous unsatisfied longings centering on attachment to the father. Morat, his half-brother, then becomes the repository for hostile wishes that must be repudiated, censured, and--despite the Fletcherian conversion engineered for him in Act 5--punished by the plot. Dryden in other words assigns the contestatory role to Morat, largely insulating his hero from the oedipal impulse to supplant their profligate father. The plot rewards the hero with the throne and the hand of the captive queen Indamora, vindicating the loyalist son who has been auditioning for his father's love and approval throughout the play. But Aureng-Zebe and Morat remain half-brothers, each representing the other's bifurcated and denied originary self, whether we define that self as Dryden's integrated hero in the heroic plays that preceded Aureng-Zebe or as his authorial self, torn between reverence and rivalry as he works through his ambivalent relations to his literary fathers in the political and personal maelstrom of the mid-1670s.

Dryden's dedication and prologue register an upsurge in his sense of historical estrangement from the Jacobean playwrights. He speaks, memorably, of his sense of being "betwixt two Ages cast, / The first of this, and hindmost of the last" (21-22), as though he has been "cast" (like one of the fallen angels hurled headlong out of heaven) (6) into an untenable space and time, remote from the revered Jacobeans yet separated too by priority and temperament from his Restoration contemporaries. Overawed by Shakespeare, Dryden abruptly renounces his experiment of writing verse plays that might compete with or surpass the Jacobeans' blank verse tragedies. "But spite of all his pride, a secret shame/ Invades his breast at Shakespear's sacred name," Dryden admits, exploring the painful thought that "He, in a just despair, would quit the Stage," yielding all laurels to the "greater Dead [against whom] he dares not strive" (13-19). But if the prologue charts Dryden's felt distance from the pre-war generation of playwrights, it also resonates with his longing to attach himself to these literary fathers, whose names he invokes repeatedly, as though wishing to make them living and continuous presences in his work. As Paul Hammond has recently observed of Dryden's work as a whole, his writing "may often appear to be obsessively timely" in its self-conscious contemporaneity of reference as in its pronounced occasionality, yet at the same time "Belatedness haunts Dryden's writing, as if any modern writing must inevitably be late. He has been born too late to be a colleague of Shakespeare" as he would have wanted to have been, and so this prologue is suffused with a sense of loss as Dryden surveys the distance separating him, across the traumatic divide of the English civil wars, from the prior generation. (7)

The dedication to the Earl of Mulgrave expands on Dryden's preoccupation with the labor he has put into developing the heroic play and his cumulative frustration with the effort. "I have labour'd as much as any man, to divest my self of the self-opinion of an Author; and am too well satisfi'd of my own weakness, to be pleas'd with any thing that I have written" (12:156), he admits, in offering a muted defense of his portrayal of the women characters in Aureng-Zebe. Dryden's modesty is, like that of his hero Aureng-Zebe, both self-conscious and largely earned, given the strictures he insists on airing in his pre-texts. In an extraordinary moment of self-flagellating candor, Dryden compares his career as a dramatist (beginning in 1663) to that of Sisyphus laboring in Hades. The passage begins by excoriating human vanity, as it is embodied in the "ridiculous actions" of the playwright himself:

The truth is, the consideration of so vain a Creature as man, is not worth our pains. I have fool enough at home without looking for it abroad: and am a sufficient Theater to my self of ridiculous actions, without expecting company, either in a Court, a Town, or Play-house. 'Tis on this account that I am weary with drawing the deformities of Life, and Lazars of the People, where every figure of imperfection more resembles me than it can do others. If I must be condemn'd to Rhyme, I should find some ease in my change of punishment. I desire to be no longer the Sisyphus of the Stage; to rowl up a Stone with endless labour ... which is perpetually falling down again. I never thought my self very fit for an Employment, where many of my Predecessors have excell'd me in all kinds; and some of my Contemporaries, even in my own partial Judgment, have out-done me in Comedy. (12:154)

James A. Winn has suggested that Dryden's mortification derives in part from his exposure in contemporary satires targeting his foolish affair with Anne Reeves, which terminated ignominiously during the period he was writing Aureng-Zebe. (8) The personal stresses in the playwright's life, which are hinted at in his punning confession that he "Grows weary of his long-lov'd Mistris, Rhyme" (Prologue, 1. 8), certainly feed into Dryden's shamed self-presentation here, with its emphatic note of self-disgust. It is also important to register his sense of creative depletion. The word weary is repeated in both the prologue and the dedication; his late-blooming midlife crisis spills over to incorporate Dryden's professional life in profound ways. He moves in the dedication to Mulgrave towards proposing a royalist epic and asking for Charles II to step forward to play the role of Augustus to his Virgil; but even here, Dryden awkwardly backs into this proposition, which is first introduced to Mulgrave in the guise of his making "some part of amends, for many ill Playes, by an Heroique Poem" (12:154), a gesture that comes close to nullifying the significance of Dryden's seminal contribution to the theater over the prior twelve years.

What is most interesting is Dryden's identification with Sisyphus' punishment: his repetitive toil pushing a gigantic boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down again. Dryden captures the strenuous futility of the ingenious torture designed in Hades for the king of Corinth; the inevitable defeat and frustration that Sisyphus experiences make him an apt figure for Dryden's depressive fantasy of never reaching the summit held by the Jacobean Titans. Dryden has tied himself to "endless labour" in wedding himself (and his ambitions) to the rhymed heroic play. In the authorial fantasy he spins here, he experiences that creative labor as a punishment meted out to him for his impious challenge of the Jacobeans. "If I must be condemn'd to Rhyme," he writes, as though the sentence has come from some indeterminate external force. In fact, Dryden had himself advocated writing plays in verse in An Essay of Dramatick Poesie (published in 1667) as the ideal means by which Restoration dramatists might distinguish themselves from the Jacobeans: "This way of writing in Verse, they have onely left free to us; our age is arriv'd to a perfection in it, which they never knew; and which (if we may guess by what of theirs we have seen in Verse, as the Faithful Shepherdess, and Sad Shepherd:) 'tis probable they never could have reach'd" (17:73). (9) As Joseph Loewenstein has recently argued, such contrafactual fantasies and imaginings as Dryden elaborates in his prefatory texts to Aureng-Zebe are an important and still underutilized resource for literary historians of the early modern period, who need to pay close attention to the fantasies authors have about their relations to their texts. (10) Dryden's masochistic fantasy of his kinship to Sisyphus is integrally connected to the compensatory wish-fulfillment fantasies of his protagonists in Aureng-Zebe. The loyalist hero and his antithesis, Morat, reimagine their relations to a dominant father figure, "correcting" the defeatist posture Dryden-as-Sisyphus assumes in his relation to the Jacobeans by acting out in clearly demarcated ways oedipal fantasies of attachment or rebellion.

Arthur C. Kirsh, in a now classic study of Dryden's last rhymed tragedy, first described a key departure in Aureng-Zebe from Dryden's prior practice in his heroic dramas. Aureng-Zebe, Kirsh argued, is Dryden's first temperate hero, providing the prototype for the heroes of eighteenth-century sentimental drama, while his defiant half-brother Morat appropriates the characteristics associated with the ranting heroes of the heroic plays Dryden had popularized for close to a decade. (11) More recently, Douglas Canfield has explored the ideological dimension of the double oedipal crisis at the heart of Aureng-Zebe. Canfield's reading in Heroes and States emphasizes the cautionary promotion of "patrilineal, primogenitive succession" in Dryden's play. (12) The reconfigured hero should be understood, Canfield argues, as "a figure out of romance whose piety is not supposed to be psychologically but ideologically believable." (13) Dryden thus resolves an ideological crisis--made more pressing by the looming Stuart succession crisis--through splitting his heroic protagonist into two figures, one "the blameless pattern of a Son" (1.1.456) devoted to the emperor, the other his Other, the son who openly contests his aging father's power. The plot translates these conflicts into succession crises (as Dryden will do repeatedly over his career from this point on in works such as Mac Flecknoe or "To my Dear Friend, Mr. Congreve, on His Comedy, call'd The Double Dealer") that dramatize Dryden's ambivalent response to his literary fathers.

When Douglas Canfield remarks that Aureng-Zebe's piety is psychologically "improbable," he is right on one level--the piety seems contrafactual, unreal, a product of romance--but its very improbability suggests that it may profitably be explored through Freud's reflections on the wish-fulfillment mechanisms of daydreaming. Freud has described the creative writer as a "dreamer in broad daylight" and suggested affinities between creative writing and daydreams. (14) Daydreams, as distinct from nighttime dreams, are more consciously cultivated by the fantasist. As Freud observes, "These day-dreams are cathected with a large amount of interest; they are carefully cherished by the subject and usually concealed with a great deal of sensitivity, as though they were among the most intimate possessions of his personality." (15) Daydreams, he writes, center on two, often interrelated plots: in men, the fantasies are erotic or ambitious; in women, the fantasies are invariably erotic in nature, a distinction Freud immediately casts into doubt by pointing to the close interrelation of ambitious and erotic daydreams in men. (16) Freud's speculations about daydreams, scattered over two essays written in 1908 and later reintroduced in his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1915-17), repeatedly emphasize the persistence of daydreaming into maturity and the superior, almost uncanny, access the creative writer has to his or her daydreams. In "Creative Writers and Daydreaming," Freud describes a practice common to novelists and playwrights alike; the creative writer will "split up his ego, by self-observation, into many part-egos, and, in consequence.... personify the conflicting currents of his own mental life in several heroes." (17) By splitting the ranting hero of his heroic dramas into rival brothers in Aureng-Zebe, Dryden projects his own conflicting responses to his literary forebears into a plot involving contesting siblings whose individual responses to the father can be "pure," stable, seemingly resolved, uncontaminated by ambivalence.

The characters of Aureng-Zebe fantasize with an almost hallucinatory fervor. They prove incapable of repressing their wish-fulfillment fantasies, which are confessed "in broad daylight," compulsively, at rimes in soliloquy but most often in a perverse semblance of dialogue that places the listener (like the audience) in the position of listening (often unwillingly) to a private, ultimately solipsistic, revelation. For example, when Arimant, the Governor of Agra, approaches the queen Indamora to press his own highly inappropriate suit, she rebukes him sternly: "I call'd you Friend, and could you wish for more?" (2.1.50). His reply moves from a confession of his baffled erotic longings to a meditation on wish-fulfillment fantasies. Arimant pleads:
   I dare not ask for what you would not grant:
   But wishes, Madam, are extravagant.
   They are not bounded with things possible:
   I may wish more then I presume to tell:
   Desire's the vast extent of humane mind,
   It mounts above, and leaves poor hope behind.
   I could wish--
      Indamora. What?
      Arimant. Why did you speak?
   Yo've dash'd my Fancy quite:
   Ev'n in th'approaching minute of delight.
   I must take breath--
   Ere I the Rapture of my wish renew,
   And tell you then, It terminates in you.


This extraordinary passage captures the tone of Aureng-Zebe, whose characters feel compelled to reveal their most intimate wishes. The word wish recurs rive times in a fourteen-line exchange. Arimant registers Indamora's startled interjection, "What?" as a disastrous interruption of his climactic moment of confession. Suddenly brought back to earth after his ascent into the realm of fantasy, Arimant protests: "Yo've dash'd my Fancy quite." In her role as the fantasy object scripted into his erotic daydream, Indamora should neither challenge nor interrupt him. "I must take breath--," Arimant says in a panting half-line, before recovering to reveal his illicit desire. Dryden conveys Arimant's determined obliviousness to Indamora's astonished and angry response to his declaration. She bluntly reminds him how inappropriate his desires are: she is a queen, beautiful and youthful, while he is below her in station, old, her "slave," subject to her will. But even before Indamora chastises Arimant for his fantasy of becoming her lover, its unreality has been established. Indamora is less the intended audience for his confession than its catalyst; Arimant succumbs to his own vision of erotic rapture. Freud reminds us that erotic fantasies serve originally as an enhancement to masturbation, a point Dryden underscores in this scene, with its deliberately discomfiting rendering of Arimant's confession interruptus. (18) Because of their intimacy, vulnerability, and sheer transparency, such wishes are often guarded by the fantasist, for whom their exposure can mean considerable shame and ridicule (as it does here for Arimant). In Aureng-Zebe, by contrast, they are systematically aired, no matter what the consequences for the speaker.

Arimant is not unaware of the real impediments to actualizing his erotic fantasy of possessing Indamora. Rather, the wish serves to correct what is for him an unpalatable reality. "I dare not ask for what you would not grant," he declares, resorting to a revealing double negative. (19) Arimant then rationalizes his choice to confess his love to Indamora as a compulsion, brought on by the contrafactual nature of such fantasies: "But wishes, madam, are extravagant. / They are not bounded with things possible." Arimant is a dreamer in broad daylight, chafing at the constraints of his social inferiority, his age, his role as a mere go-between at court, the messenger conveying others' wishes, not his own. In this scene he steps outside of his prescribed station and function to reflect on wish-fulfillment fantasies, commenting perceptively on their universality, and the intense gratification they provide for the fantasist. He brings (as Dryden's messenger here) an analytic intelligence to the subject, being as fascinated by the drive to wish for impossibilities as he is by elaborating his particular erotic fantasy. As Arimant explains it, such powerful wishes turn away from whatever is reasonable to hope for or likely to attain to embrace instead the unattainable and the extravagant: they reflect the desire for whatever it is that normative boundaries--rational, cultural, ideological--seek to contain. This is the terrain that Aureng-Zebe explores in its focus on ambitious and erotic wish-fulfillment fantasies.

This is particularly the case with transgressive wishes, for example, Arimant's for Indamora, the Empress Nourmahal's incestuous passion for her step-son Aureng-Zebe, and Morat's for Indamora and his father's throne. The Emperor, who also desires Indamora despite her being pledged to his son Aureng-Zebe, is alert to his rebellious son Morat's desire for his death. In the first act, the Emperor quickly sees through Morat's ambassador's soothing diplomatic lies. The civil strife in Agra has been unleashed by rumors of the old Emperor's death. "Do not, great Sir, misconstrue his intent; / Nor call Rebellion what was prudent care" (1.1.140-41), the ambassador says, wanting to cast Morat's seizure of power as an act of prudent caution undertaken in defense of his father. The Emperor is rightly skeptical of Morat's motives: "News of my death from Rumor he receiv'd; / And what he wish'd, he easily believ'd" (1.1.156-57), he argues, identifying Morat's parricidal ambitions. The Emperor himself harbors the callous wish to "unbeget" his four sons. Solyman, an insider at court, discloses in Act I that the Emperor "wishes, each minute, he could unbeget / Those Rebel-Sons, who dare t' usurp his Seat: / To sway his Empire with unequal skill, / And mount a Throne, which none but he can fill" (1.1.74-7). This filicidal wish is not the product of a passing fancy on the Emperor's part. He disclaims all paternal responsibility, disinvesting the moments of his sons' conception of any binding significance. When Aureng-Zebe protests his father's reckless transfer of power to Morat to secure his own licentious ease, the Emperor replies:
   Children (the blind effect of Love and Chance,
   Form'd by their sportive Parents ignorance)
   Bear from their birth th' impressions of a Slave:
   Whom Heav'n for play-games first, and then for service gave.
   One then may be displac'd, and one may Reign:
   And want of Merit, render Birth-right vain.


Reduced to parenthetical afterthoughts, the accidental byproducts of their parents' erotic sport, the Emperor's sons can be brought into existence or dismissed at his will. Their birthright is moot, he tells Aureng-Zebe. The Emperor wishes to nullify the claims his sons make on him, not only to justify his sexual poaching on his most loyal son's fiancee, but also to justify his reckless abdication of all responsibility to adjudicate the disposition of his kingdom during his lifetime. Parricidal and filicidal wishes are openly voiced in Aureng-Zebe, where Dryden imagines as a horrifying possibility the repudiation of all bonds between fathers and sons. These thoughts should be taboo, or censored out of decency, but in Dryden's play, with its cast of fantasists whose every daydream is spoken aloud, such transgressive wishes are invariably aired.

Morat too subscribes to the same license the Emperor gives himself to abrogate the ties of kinship. When the Emperor, shortly after abdicating the throne to Morat, rebukes him for his harsh treatment of his wife, Melesinda, Morat answers brusquely: "You cancell'd Duty when you gave me pow'r" (4.1.321). The Emperor expects gratitude, obedience, and a continuing acknowledgment of his supreme authority from Morat only to be told by his contemptuous son, "To your own thoughts such hopes you might propose; / But I took Empire not on terms like those. / Of business you complain'd; now take your ease" (4.1.330-32). Morat belittles his father's failing potency, claiming Indamora for himself as the spoil of his ascent to the throne, and openly conniving at his brother Aureng-Zebe's murder at the hands of his mother Nourmahal. His aggression knows no bounds; he professedly emulates the Emperor's own disavowal of family bonds ("If your own Actions on your Will you ground, / Mine shall hereafter know no other bound" [4.1.322-23], Morat reasons). As the son who expresses the hostile wishes that must be disavowed by Aureng-Zebe, Morat repeatedly contests his father's authority. His threatened violence against the father is calculated in Aureng-Zebe to make the case for the good son. The Emperor belatedly recognizes Morat's ingratitude and his own folly in preferring him to Aureng-Zebe in a scene that recalls Lear's tragic folly and his punishing exile to the stormy heath. What follows in the soliloquy that closes Act 4, scene one, is an especially rich and suggestive fantasy, as the chastened father confesses:
   Too late my folly I repent; I know
   My Aureng-Zebe would ne'r have us'd me so.
   But, by his ruine I prepar'd my own;
   And, like a naked Tree, my shelter gone,
   To Winds and Winter-storms must stand expos'd alone.


The plot of Dryden's heroic drama will demand that Aureng-Zebe rescue his father from Morat's control. His vindication first happens here, however, with the Emperor's recognition that "My Aureng-Zebe would ne'r have us'd me so." The son wins the acknowledgment he has been seeking throughout the play. If members of the audience are "conceal'd Spectators of the Plot in agitation" (in Congreve's words), (20) the hero is its most invested spectator, which is to say that this highly charged fantasy of the chastened parent converted to an awareness of the special child's virtue is staged for the benefit of Aureng-Zebe, the good son who has long been auditioning for such recognition of his stellar uniqueness. Dryden pays homage to King Lear in this scene where the Emperor imagines himself buffeted by the elements, standing "expos'd alone" as Lear is to the storm as he too is brought to confront the full force of "filial ingratitude" (on the part of his daughters Goneril and Regan). (21) Lear will later be reunited (briefly) with Cordelia, the "daughter / Who redeems nature from the general curse/Which twain have brought her to." (22) Aureng-Zebe assumes the role in Dryden's heroic play of the redemptive child who saves the imperiled parent. Dryden retains Lear's investment in exploring bifurcated and polarized responses to the father. In both plays the children respond to their feckless fathers with an intense attachment (Cordelia, Edgar, Aureng-Zebe) or an intense hostility (Goneril and Regan, Edmund, Morat) that occludes a conscious awareness of ambivalence. In Aureng-Zebe, however, unlike in Lear, the plot replaces daughters with sons, emphasizing patrilineal succession and oedipal conflict as the central conflicts in the play.

Morat is indicted in the play as a "Monster, and a Par[r]icide" (5.1.44), who scoffs at primogeniture as "ev'ry dull-got Elder Brother's way," arguing that the son
   ... who by force a Scepter does obtain,
   Shows he can govern that which he could gain.
   Right comes course, what e'r he was before;
   Murder and Usurpation are no more.


Indamora, the captive queen who seeks to convert Morat to virtue, denounces him as a "Rebel, Tyrant, Murdere" (5.1.61; Dryden's emphasis). Under her influence, Morat is brought to renounce his ambitions for empire and uncontrolled power through a conversion familiar to Restoration audiences from Fletcherian romances. "Unjust Dominion I no more pursue" (5.1.118), he assures Indamora, and, on receiving the false report of Aureng-Zebe's death in defense of the Citadel, Morat is led to express a powerful wish: "I mourn; and wish I could recall the dead" (5.1.150). The plot, of course, obliges with the restoration of Aureng-Zebe to life and military victory, while Morat must be punished even after his conversion for having wished to seize his father's throne and displace his brother from the succession. He dies a changed man, renouncing all fratricidal desire.
      Asaph. Fortune has giv'n you all that she can give,
   Your Brother--
      Morat.--Hold; thou show'st an impious joy,
   And think'st I still take pleasure to destroy:
   Know, I am chang'd, and would not have him slain.
      Asaph. 'Tis past; and you desire his life in vain.


Morat tries to keep Asaph from speaking aloud the now-repugnant thought of Aureng-Zebe's death. It is significant that the first sign of Morat's conversion entails his active censoring of the once openly acknowledged wish for his brother's death: "Hold; thou show'st an impious joy / And think'st I still take pleasure to destroy," he exclaims, disavowing his sadism, and insisting that such "impious" wishes be suppressed. In this dramatic interruption, in which the line is split between two speakers, Asaph and Morat, and the expected rhyme scuttled so as to emphasize the collision in their viewpoints, Dryden duplicates on the level of the play's verse precisely the split he has engineered in creating out of his ranting hero the rival brothers of his last rhymed heroic play. Asaph voices the hostile wish Morat, now converted to Aureng-Zebe's brother in spirit, must disclaim, while Morat, once the aggressor, refuses the gratifications of the sadism he once subscribed to.

When Morat renounces the path of oedipal contestation and rivalry he has pursued throughout the play, he discovers the motive force that propels Dryden's heroic plot towards its overdetermined ending: "I mourn; and wish I could recall the dead." It is as clear an articulation as could be wished for of Dryden's most cathected authorial fantasy about his relation to the Jacobean playwrights. These icons are summoned up or recalled in Aureng-Zebe by name (for instance, the invoking of "Shakespear's sacred name" in the prologue) as well as in the imaginative borrowings from Fletcherian romance or Shakespearean tragedy that reveal Dryden's saturation in his forebears' works. They return in another mode in the wish-fulfillment fantasy of the hero receiving his father's blessing, love, and approval. Dryden cannot recall the dead Jacobeans except through such means; but insofar as his loyalist hero is a moving figure (and, I would argue, he is), it is because Dryden's investment in his plight has deep psychological and cultural roots. These unsatisfied longings intensify at periods of national stress, when the disruptions of the English civil wars threaten to be replayed in the political realm, but the preoccupation spans Dryden's long forty-year career after the Restoration, if only because his fantasy of attachment to his Jacobean "Fathers in wit" (17:73) cannot possibly be realized. It partakes, in other words, of the "extravagant" nature Arimant attributes to "wishes," which "are not bounded with things possible." This fantasy, with various permutations, recurs in Dryden's work focusing on succession crises. It surfaces here in Aureng-Zebe's determined auditioning for the Emperor's love and approval.

Aureng-Zebe is first profiled in the play by Arimant, who describes the hero in terms of his oedipal relation to the Emperor. By contrast with his three brothers, whose virtues are undercut by their manifold fallings,
   He sums their Virtues in himself alone,
   And adds the greatest, of a Loyal Son:
   His Father's Cause upon his Sword he wears,
   And with his Arms, we hope, his Fortune bears.
      Solyman. Two vast Rewards may well his courage move,
   A Parent's Blessing, and a Mistris Love.


This passage confirms Freud's observation that men's wish-fulfillment fantasies typically center on ambitious and erotic themes. Aureng-Zebe's ambitions are, in one sense, tempered, deliberate, weighed; as Arimant tells the Emperor, "He aims at Fame, but Fame from serving you. / 'Tis said, Ambition in his breast does rage: / Who would not be the Hero of an Age?" (1.1.220-22). These carefully couched words of praise have often prompted critics to detect a hypocrisy in Aureng-Zebe. Aureng-Zebe, however, is sincere in his devotion to his father's cause, a sincerity made possible by the emptying out of all hostile affect (into Morat), leaving the good son pure, insulated from the oedipal urge to contest the father's authority.

Aureng-Zebe's self-conscious decency stems from a passionate longing to have his loyalty affirmed by his distracted and distant father. In their first encounter, Aureng-Zebe kneels before the Emperor, kisses his hand, and offers up his victory over two of the rebellious sons, Darah and Sujah:
   My Vows have been successful as my Sword:
   My pray'rs are heard, you have your health restor'd.
   Once more 'tis given me to behold your face:
   The best of Kings and Fathers to embrace.
   Pardon my tears; 'tis joy which bids 'em flow,
   A joy which never was sincere till now.
   That which my Conquest gave I could not prize;
   Or 'twas imperfect till I saw your eyes.
      Emperor. Turn the discourse: I have a reason why
   I would not have you speak so tenderly.
   Knew you what shame your kind expressions bring,
   You would in pity spare a wretched King.
      Aureng-Zebe. A King! You rob me, Sir, of half my due:
   You have a dearer name, a Father too.


The Emperor is shamed by his inability to respond in kind to Aureng-Zebe's professions, by the overwhelming debt he owes his son, and by his own betrayal of Aureng-Zebe, whose fiancee he covets. The good son has imagined one scenario, and plays it out in good faith; as Arimant spells it out to the resistant Emperor, "He conquer'd in that hope; and from your hands, / His Love, the precious pledge he left, demands" (1.1.227-28). Aureng-Zebe is both the son who wants his fame to come from serving his father and the loyalist who aspires to be the hero of his own age, a dream that is altogether consonant with Dryden's ambitions to be the premier writer of the Restoration yet a professed emulator of the Jacobeans. In their first disastrous meeting, however, the Emperor spurns the tribute Aureng-Zebe offers him, and the fantasy script goes disastrously awry, leaving him "to grieve a Father's heart estrang'd" (1.1.388).

Aureng-Zebe, despite this rebuff and repeated temptations to treason, volunteers to defend his father against Morat's treachery. When the Emperor expatiates nostagically on the military victories of his youth, Aureng-Zebe replies: "Those fair Idea's to my aid I'll call, / And emulate my great Original" (2.1.406-07). His intemperate father responds with jealousy and suspicion to these overtures (2.1.426-27). Over and over, Aureng-Zebe's filial loyalty is tested, both by advice from the Omrahs under his command to respond to the wrongs done him by his father by deposing him and by the free-floating suspicions of the Emperor, which attach now to one son, now to another, but which are consistent in their paranoid content. When Aureng-Zebe refuses to relinquish his claim to Indamora in exchange for the throne, the Emperor, who falls to distinguish between the ambitions of his sons, continually conflating them as though they are one and the same (as, indeed, they are in the original ranting hero of Dryden's previous heroic plays), strikes the same bargain with Morat that he used to try to tempt Aureng-Zebe, putting himself altogether in the power of the rebel son. The Emperor thus brings about precisely the situation he most fears--or, conversely, wishes, in order to justify his own hostile fantasies about his sons. Aureng-Zebe must then again 'rescue' his father: the plot, or rather fantasy, requires that he demonstrate his absolute loyalty and his polar difference from Morat with whom his father has confused him.

The reconciliation between the Emperor and Aureng-Zebe concludes Act 4 and the long-deferred scene brings together the now penitent father and his forgiving, magnanimous son. "My Aureng-Zebe!" (4.2.175), the Emperor exclaims, on seeing his son. He resorts again to the construction that he used a scene earlier when he lamented that "My Aureng-Zebe would ne'r have us'd me so" (4.1.386). This crucial claimer of relationship is given an added emphasis through reiteration: the hero's fantasy of his ideal reception by his father is about to be restaged in a gratifying and dramatic scene of wish-fulfillment. The Emperor acknowledges his sordid treatment of a son "from whom I did receive / All that a Son could to a Parent give" (4.2.178-80), only to be reassured of Aureng-Zebe's devotion:
      Aureng-Zebe. Accuse your self no more; you could not be
   Ungrateful: could commit no crime to me:
   I onely mourn my yet uncancell'd score: ...
      Emperor. Can you forgive me? 'tis not fit you shou'd.
   Why will you be so excellently good?...
      Arimant. Sir, you forget the danger's imminent:
   This minute is not for excuses lent.
      Emperor. Disturb me not--
   How can my latest hour be better spent?
   To reconcile my self to him is more,
   Than to regain all I possess'd before.
   Empire and Life are now not worth a pray'r:
   His love, alone, deserves my dying care.


Arimant attempts to recall them to the reality of the imminent peril facing them, but the Emperor instead fulfills his part in the fantasy script, marveling at a son "so excellently good" and preferring Aureng-Zebe not only to Morat, Darah, and Sujah, his former rivals for his father's love, but to all ambitions for empire and long life, a life the Emperor had once wished to devote to epicurean and sensualist pursuits. (23) As with the other instances in the play when the characters' reveries are interrupted by an unwonted intrusion of reality, the fantasy takes precedence. The Emperor here instigates the reconciliation the son has long wished for, renouncing all competing interests in life to devote himself altogether to his son. It is the perfect imagined realization of the loyal son's dream of attachment.

Aureng-Zebe gains both of his goals, his father's love and Indamora's hand, and his ambitious and erotic fantasies are fulfilled in the closing lines of the play, where the Emperor abdicates in his favor, handing over the crown:
   The just rewards of Love and Honour wear.
   Receive the Mistris you so long have serv'd;
   Receive the Crown your Loialty preserv'd.
   Take you the Reins, while I from cares remove,
   And sleep within the Chariot which I drove.


Morat's conversion in Act 5 has been effected by Indamora's charismatic influence, thus 'resolving' in fantasy terms the conflicted responses to the father distributed between the two principal brothers. Morat's death in battle and the dramatic onstage suicide of his mother Nourmahal extinguish the hostile impulses directed towards the Emperor, although Nourmahal's vengeful rhetoric, elaborated in her own wish-fulfillment fantasy of destruction as she is dying of poison, complicates any peaceable resolution of the play's central conflict:
      Nourmahal. Now I'm a burning Lake, it rowls and flows;
   I'll rush, and pour it all upon my Foes.
   Pull, pull that reverend piece of Timber near:
   Throw 't on--'tis dry--'twill burn--
   Ha, ha! How my old Husband crackles there!
   Keep him down, keep him down, turn him about:
   I know him; he'll but whiz, and strait go out.
   Fan me, you Winds: what, not one breath of Air?
   I burn 'em all, and yet have flames to spare.


In Nourmahal's frenzy, she imagines first Morat and then both Morat and Aureng-Zebe driving back the flames with which she would engulf her husband, intervening to deny her the gratification she seeks. It is over her dead body that the Emperor speaks his final awkward words, blessing the young couple and handing over the reins of government of Agra to Aureng-Zebe.

Aureng-Zebe was written at a turning point in Dryden's career: it concludes his experiment with the rhymed heroic play and anticipates the new direction his work for the theater would take in the next half-decade. After Aureng-Zebe, Dryden, like his loyalist hero, elected to "emulate my great Original," Shakespeare, in two plays, first in his 1677 blank verse tragedy All for Love, a version of Antony and Cleopatra in which, Dryden famously claimed, that "by imitating him, I have excell'd my self" (13:18-19) and, two years later, in Troilus and Cressida, where Dryden's professedly close emulation of Shakespeare led to less happy results, (24) Aureng-Zebe stages in its allegory of rival brothers an authorial fantasy about Dryden's conflicted responses to the Jacobean precursors, which is resolved in favor of attachment, not rivalry, when the double oedipal plot ends with both sons committed--or converted to--championing the father's cause. The opposing versions of a fantasized relation to the father thus reach an apparent unanimity when, in Nourmahal's fantasy, Morat and Aureng-Zebe join forces to protect their father from her vengeance. Dryden is, however, too aware of the counter-impulses to allow this version of his wish-fulfillment fantasy to remain unchallenged. Morat's oedipal challenge to his father's authority resurfaces in Nourmahal's unreconstructed hostility, a hostility that only intensifies after her son's death and the defeat of their joint ambitions to supplant the Emperor and seize his empire.

The "primordial ambivalence of feeling toward the father" Freud identified in the oedipal struggle of father and son remains, after and despite its fantasy solution in the plot of Aureng-Zebe. (25) What is managed here amounts to a temporary resolution of the ambivalence. The plot of this pivotal play tilts towards one pole of Dryden's conflicted response to his Jacobean "fathers in wit"--towards open emulation--and away from the kind of emulative rivalry he had earlier embraced in advocating writing plays in verse. Dryden is confident that he is the most important writer of his age (as his prologue proclaims) but, as Arimant puts it in a crucial paradox that characterizes Aureng-Zebe's understanding in the play of his ambitions, "He aims at Fame, but Fame from serving you" (1.1.220). It is this resolve that Dryden takes into his important adaptations of Shakespeare's plays over the next four years. The agonistic model of poetic influence proposed by Harold Bloom in The Anxiety of Influence emphasizes the aggression embedded in the relations between fathers and sons, strong poets and their heirs. (26) But the oedipal wish-fulfillment fantasies given voice in Aureng-Zebe point us elsewhere, to the sons' prior and continuing loving attachment to the father. "You have a dearer name, a Father too," Aureng-Zebe tells the Emperor who he imagines as "the best of Kings and Fathers" (1.1.307, 297). His wishful speech is a dress rehearsal for Dryden's conspicuous emulation of idealized literary fathers in the years to follow.

I want to thank Brian Shaffer for his suggested revisions, as well as PQ's readers, Cedric D. Reverand II by name. Rhodes College sponsored the writing of this piece with a faculty grant, for which I am grateful.


(1) The Works of John Dryden, ed. H. T. Swedenberg et al., 20 vols. (U. of California Press, 1956-2000), 12:159, 11. 11-12. All future references to Dryden's works will be to this edition. Plays are cited by act, scene, and line numbers, prose works by volume and page number, poems by line number. +++ imaginings, General Tilney returns to the scene in a towering rage and throws Catherine Morland out of his house, Montoni-style--though Montoni himself is more given to locking women up than evicting them.) Mary Lascelles, too, may have described the burlesque element in the novel as possessing only "a pretty intricacy and variety," but she could see that the pattern of that element "is by no means simple." (7) Though Austen's novel "subverts the falsities of such works as The Mysteries of Udolpho," Alistair Duckworth decides, "it also retains enough of the extrarational probing of the Gothic novel to put into question any easy acceptance of a rationally grounded existence." (8) And Tara Ghosal Wallace agrees that "Austen does more than invite her reader to join in a collaborative effort to debunk the conventions of sentimental novels, more even than to witness the emergence of a new kind of novel based on probabilities and psychological realism." (9) But Wallace doesn't make it absolutely plain what Austen went on to do in this regard, and neither does Andrew Wright. He is sure Northanger Abbey "exhibits two sets of values," one satirized, one shown to be true:

But the book goes somewhat beyond these limits--it goes beyond to explore the limitations of good sense itself. And Jane Austen shows us that though we must reject the Gothic world as inadequate and false, we cannot altogether apprehend the real world by good sense alone. Good sense, ironically, is limited too. (10)

Critics in recent years--largely but not exclusively working under the auspices of feminism--have significantly rerouted what Claudia Johnson calls the "Gothic or Anti-Gothic" question, (11) particularly by drawing attention to the narratorial instability and metafictional playfulness of Northanger Abbey. For Carole Gerster "Austen places herself in the midst of an ongoing dialogue" in this novel, "within and between novels about woman's true nature and proper role in order to engage other novelists and novel readers in dialogue and debate." It follows the book offers a Bakhtinian "mix of varied and opposing voices" instead of "hidden meanings." This does not imply an intertextual hall of mirrors, however. The "true nature" of women is at stake for Austen and her readers, after all, and the novel is designed (in part) "to show how [Samuel] Richardson's ideas about women are false to reality." (12) "Jane Austen freed her readers from damaging stereotypes," as Elspeth Knights points out, (13) and she could do so only by ensuring that metafictional playfulness was accompanied very closely by instances of intellectual earnestness: serious considerations about the novel as a form of rational entertainment, for example, and serious considerations about the fascination of Gothic for adolescent minds, as I hope to make clear. Whether Northanger Abbey is, as Claudia Johnson suggests, (14) Austen's most brilliant novel I doubt--but then it is hard to think of any other novel, in any language, as brilliant as Pride and Prejudice. The brilliance it undoubtedly possesses has a good deal to do with its "multifaceted" quality, allowing it not only to "be read and interpreted in various ways," (15) but itself to read and interpret the human activity it records. "Clearly," Claudia Johnson writes, "though she pokes a lot of fun, Austen is not simply disavowing gothic."

Instead, she juxtaposes the "alarms of romance" to the "anxieties of common life" in order to enable us to see their interdependence. Rather than merely asserting the reality of one and dismissing the non-reality of the other ... we see them each anew, and we are struck first by their apparent distinctness and next by their apparent indistinguishability. (16)

That state of interdependence, I think, is where the novel might be said to take us in its "extrarational probing" and its voyage beyond the limitations of good sense; and that state is what I want to shed light on here.

An unexpected obstacle to seeing Northanger Abbey in more of its completeness and complexity is the fact that many of its readers have treated the genre that it parodies in monolithic terms. A. Walton Litz may have distinguished between the "psychological truths" to be found in The Monk and the "appeal to vicarious emotion" in Ann Radcliffe (the "basic sentimentality and fundamental unreality" of which Austen "was determined to expose"), but he nevertheless felt that "Jane Austen's target was the form in general, not any particular thriller." (17) "One major difficulty lies," Jan Fergus remarks,

in isolating passages from Radcliffe's works which can be set fairly against Austen's imitation. All Radcliffe's effects surfer slightly when her scenes are separated from their contexts. Furthermore, no direct evidence exists for Austen's preferences, if any, among her scenes or her works; we do not even know at which "most interesting part" of The Mysteries of Udolpho Henry Tilney refused to interrupt his reading for rive minutes. (18)

In fact Austen does state a preference, and does give us an important clue in this regard. Not only is The Mysteries of Udolpho the novel that Catherine reads; we know that she found one incident in particular "most interesting." In Chapter 6 we find her in conversation with her new friend at Bath, Isabella Thorpe:

"But, my dearest Catherine, what have you been doing with yourself all this morning?--Have you gone on with Udolpho?"

"Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the black veil."

"Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are you not wild to know?"

"Oh! yes, quite; what can it be?--But do not tell me--I would not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina's skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world." (39-40)

Granted, the thrills withheld behind the black veil are typical Radcliffe and typical Gothic. But Austen is a remarkably careful novelist, (19) and it is worth enquiring if she invoked that particular episode for reasons which have a bearing on the deeper preoccupations of her own novel.

The black veil episode begins in the fifth chapter of the second volume of The Mysteries of Udolpho, when Signor Montoni transports the kidnapped heroine from Venice to his eponymous castle in the Appenines, where he intends to marry her to Count Morano. The sight of the castle alone is sufficient to fill Emily's mind with "melancholy awe": (20)

Silent, lonely and sublime, it seemed to stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown defiance on all, who dared to invade its solitary reign. As the twilight deepened, its features became more awful in obscurity, and Emily continued to gaze, till its clustering towers were alone seen, rising over the tops of the woods, beneath whose thick shade the carriages soon after began to ascend. (227)

Etcetera, etcetera: "gothic greatness of its features," "mouldering walls of dark grey stone," "gloomy and sublime," a gateway of "gigantic size" and a "huge portcullis," "two round towers, crowned by hanging turrets, embattled, where, instead of banners, now waved long grass and wild plants, that had taken root among the moldering stones," towers whose "shattered outline ... told of the ravages of war." In short, "vast, ancient and dreary" (226-27). Small wonder Emily felt "as if she was going into her prison," and that "her imagination, ever awake to circumstance, suggested even more terrors, than her reason could justify" (227-28). Dark, obscure, solitary, forbidding, precipitous, monumental, decaying, ancient: Radcliffe's description suggests that Udolpho is much more than a creepy castle. It is the embodiment of its owner, naturally, as are so many houses in fiction; but it is also the embodiment of what Ian Duncan calls "decayed ancestral power": (21) age, violence, tradition, law, and patriarchy (even, surely, the phallus, clustered as the place is with round towers without and pillars within).

At least Emily is not alone in this barbarically masculine environment. Accompanying her is her French maid Annette, and the two young women quickly become lost going upstairs to their room. Emily chooses a door at random, which opens onto "a suite of spacious and ancient apartments" where the furniture "retained an appearance of grandeur, though covered with dust, and dropping to pieces with the damps, and with age." Annette is all trepidation ("O! If I see anything, I shall be frightened out of my wits!"), Emily all fascination ("Why do you hesitate?"), and this set of reactions in the heroine and her attendant is the next element in the episode as a whole. To become lost in the corridors of this building--an embodiment of violent and primitive masculinity--evokes fear (understandably enough) but also insatiable curiosity. There is a secret, and Emily insists on finding it out:

"Oh! do not go in there, ma'amselle," said Annette, "you will only lose yourself further."

"Bring the light forward," said Emily, "we may possibly find our way through these rooms. (232)

Two objects in particular attract Emily's attention in the room feebly illuminated by Annette's unreliable lantern. Both are or appear to be pictures: one of a horseman ("the countenance ... struck Emily as resembling Montoni") about to run a spear through his sprawling victim, the other "concealed by a veil of black silk," which Annette refuses to help Emily uncover:

"I don't know what is the reason, ma'amselle ... nor any thing about the picture, only I have heard there is something very dreadful belonging to it--and that it has been covered up in black ever since--and that nobody has looked at it for a great many years--and it somehow has to do with the owner of this castle before Signor Montoni came to the possession of it--and--." (233)

Needless to say, Emily's "curiosity was entirely awakened," and when Annette leaves to find help she is tempted to uncover the picture herself, but the "melancholy silence" of the place (234) "conspired with a certain degree of awe, excited by the mystery attending this picture, to prevent her." (22)

After supper Annette--who has picked up her information from her boyfriend on Montoni's staff--tells her mistress the story of Montoni's one-time love, Signora Laurentini, who owned Udolpho when Montoni was a young man. The castle, it transpires, was to become Montoni's in the event of Laurentini dying unmarried, but in the event Montoni fell in love with her and offered her his hand, which she rejected, having a lover elsewhere. Montoni left the area, while Laurentini took up the habit of melancholy night-time walks (with her maid), mooning over her romantic misfortunes. Until one night, as Annette tells us:

"Well, they saw her go down among the woods, but night came, and she did not return; ten o'clock, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock came, and no lady! Well, the servants thought to be sure, some accident had befallen her, and they went out to seek her. They searched all night long, but could not find her, or any trace of her; and, from that day to this, ma'amselle, she has never been heard of." (237-8)

The implication is obvious: Montoni has murdered Laurentini to ensure that she will remain unmarried, or out of jealousy, or to silence her after an act of rape. As herself the unwilling bride-to-be of Count Morano it is hardly suprising that Emily compares her fate with the castle's previous female occupant: "her thoughts," Radcliffe tells us, "recurred to the strange history of Signora Laurentini and then to her own strange situation" (240). Nor is it any surprise, given the story Annette tells the previous evening, that Emily wakes the next day to find (241) "The Count Morano was the first image, that occurred to her waking thoughts, and then came a train of anticipated evils, which she could neither conquer, or avoid."

So much for the intertextual clues left by what the narrator tells us concerning Catherine's reading. But those clues are not only intertextual and literary ones. The episode of the black veil is a unique but representative example of a driving force in Gothic fiction: the "train of anticipated evils" incumbent on marriage and/or sexual contact. Signora Laurentini is sought in marriage by an unwanted partner; she comes to a sticky end in unknown circumstances. Signora Laurentini is what Mademoiselle Emily will become unless she is rescued by her passive and androgynous lover; she has left the unmarried sisterhood and passed over to the other shore, to a fate as lurid as it is mysterious, worthy to be hidden behind a veil. This primal scene can be witnessed from the masculine point of view in books like The Monk, or from the feminine one in books like Radcliffe's own, but a significant part of the appeal of Gothic fiction to young readers in the mid-1790s and beyond surely lies in the fact that it dramatizes that particular rite of passage--common to young men and young women alike, of course, in all times and places, but for culturally determined reasons presenting itself with a different order of intensity for women of Catherine Morland's era.

That era had not yet passed when the Russian political thinker Alexander Herzen published a short meditation on female education in 1866. "A sober view of human relationships is far harder for women than for us," he wrote:

From childhood the girl is frightened by the sexual relationship as by some fearful unclean secret of which she is warned and scared off as though it were a sin that had some magical power; and afterwards this same monstrous thing, this same magnum ignotum which leaves an ineffaceable stain, the remotest hint at which is shameful and sets her blushing, is made the object of her life. As soon as a boy can walk, he is given a tin sword to train him to murder, and an hussar's uniform and epaulettes are predicted for him; the girl is lulled to sleep with the hope of a rich and handsome bridegroom, and she dreams of epaulettes not on her own shoulders but on the shoulders of her future husband.

(2) James A. Winn,John Dryden and His World (Yale U. Press, 1987), 242-84. Vinton A. Dearing's Commentary on Aureng-Zebein the California Dryden tends to discount the significance of Dryden's self-depreciation in the prefatory texts. See further on Dryden's literary career, Paul Hammond,John Dryden: A Literary Life (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), and two essays by Steven N. Zwicker, both exemplary, "John Dryden," in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740, ed. Steven N. Zwicker (Cambridge U. Press, 1998), 185-203, and "Composing A Literary Life: Introduction," to The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden, ed. Steven N. Zwicker (Cambridge U. Press, 2004), 3-14. For a reading of Aureng-Zebe that offers a compelling account of the play "as a theatrical piece that is intended to generate a scripted affective experience in [its] spectators" (256) akin to their experience of baroque art, see Blair Hoxby, "Dryden's Baroque Dramaturgy: The Case of Aureng-Zebe," in Enchanted Ground: Reimagining John Dryden, ed. Jayne Lewis and Maximillian E. Novak (U. of Toronto Press, 2004), 244-72.

(3) Paradise Lost 6.695.

(4) See Nancy Klein Maguire, Regicide and Restoration: English Tragicomedy, 1660-1671 (Cambridge U. Press, 1992); Bridget Orr, Empire on the English Stage, 1660-1714 (Cambridge U. Press, 2001); Bridget Orr, "Poetic Plate-Fleets and Universal Monarchy: The Heroic Plays and Empire in the Restoration," in John Dryden: A Tercentenary Miscellany, ed. Susan Green and Steven N. Zwicker (San Marino: Huntington Library, 2001), 71-97; J. Douglas Canfield, Heroes & States: On the Ideology of Restoration Tragedy (U. Press of Kentucky, 2000); David Bruce Kramer, The Imperial Dryden: The Poetics of Appropriation in Seventeenth-Century England (U. of Georgia Press, 1994).

(5) Orr, 11.

(6) Dryden's 1674 opera, The State of Innocence, based on Milton's Paradise Lost, was originally titled "The Fall of Angells and man in innocence" (12:321).

(7) Paul Hammond, Dryden and the Traces of Classical Rome (Oxford U. Press, 1999), 19. See further on Dryden's complex relations to these early modern playwrights, Cedric D. Reverand II, "Dryden and the Canon: Absorbing and Rejecting the Burden of the Past," in Enchanted Ground: Reimagining John Dryden (U. of Toronto Press, 2004), 203-25.

(8) Winn, 280-82.

(9) Dryden's examples of plays written in verse include Fletcher's experimental pastoral tragicomedy, The Faithful Shepherdess (1608-9) and Jonson's The Sad Shepherd, published in the 1640 Folio, both controversial and unpopular plays, the latter one of the late works of Jonson's that Dryden dismissively characterized as his "dotages" (17:57).

(10) Joseph Loewenstein, Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship (Cambridge U. Press, 2002), 12.

(11) Arthur C. Kirsch, "The Significance of Dryden's Aureng-Zebe," ELH 29 (1962): 160-74. George McFadden characterizes Aureng-Zebe as "an inactive hero" for whom Morat serves as a necessary foil: "Splitting the hero in two in this way was not, perhaps, a particularly artistic expedient, but it was serviceable to the political theme and theatrically effective," McFadden argues in Dryden: The Public Writer, 1660-1685 (Princeton U. Press, 1978), 186-87.

(12) Canfield, 24.

(13) Ibid., 22.

(14) Sigmund Freud, "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming," in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey, 24 vols. (London: Hogarth Press, 1953-74), 9:149. Future citations of Freud's works will be to this edition, indicated by title, volume, and page number.

(15) Freud, "Hysterical Phantasies and Their Relation to Bisexuality," 9:160.

(16) Ibid., 159.

(17) Freud, "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming," 9:150.

(18) Freud, "Hysterical Phantasies and Their Relation to Bisexuality," 9:161.

(19) See further, Freud, "Negation," 19:235-39, a brief clinical essay analyzing patients' tendency to resort to the grammar of negation in analytic sessions. Freud argues that this phenomenon suggests that a partial lifting of repression has occurred so that "a repressed image or idea can make its way into consciousness, on condition that it is negated" (19:235; Freud's emphasis). Negation is a prominent feature of the characters' speeches in Aureng-Zebe. Cynthia Marshall first drew my attention to this important clinical essay of Freud's. See further her essay, "The Doubled Jaques and Constructions of Negation in As You Like It," SQ49 (1998): 375-92.

(20) The phrase is taken from Congreve's defense of the soliloquy in his dedicatory preface to The Double-Dealer, in The Complete Plays of William Congreve, ed. Herbert Davis (U. of Chicago Press, 1967), 120.

(21) King Lear, in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974), 3.4.14.

(22) Ibid., 4.6. 205-07.

(23) See further, on the Emperor's debased Epicureanism, Hammond, Dryden and the Traces of Classical Rome, 169-70, and Hammond, John Dryden: A Literary Life, 59-61.

(24) See further Jennifer Brady, "Anxious Comparisons in John Dryden's Troilus and Cressida," in Enchanted Ground: Reimagining John Dryden, 185-202; and, for a reading of Troilus and Cressida focusing on gender and criticism, see Marcie Frank, Gender,, Theatre, and the Origins of Criticism (Cambridge U. Press, 2003), 84-90.

(25) Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, 21:132.

(26) Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (Oxford U. Press, 1973).


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Title Annotation:John Dryden
Author:Brady, Jennifer
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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