Critical essays on absalom and achitophel - UKTAC

"Surrounded thus withfriends of every sort," Absalom became as despicable as the friends he kept. Monmouth left England of his own accord in 1679 when he lost his commission.10 Yet Dryden has him mouth a falsehood that he had been duped in believing:Who banished Absalom? Achitophel'slies led him to wrongly fear that his life was endangered. Absalom is reducedto an unwitting recitation of Achitophel's paramount accusation against David:


Oh curst effect of necessary law! (999-1003) Charles seemed to be given nochoice by these unrepentant people who mocked even his attempts at forbearance. Charles seemed to be, Dryden argued, reigning on the verge of the last days. Thus it would be Divine vengeance which would fall upon the evil mensurrounding both himself and the loyal few around him. In such times, "theevil would fall by the edge of the sword," but Dryden chose only to imply whosesword would do the killing, since it would be too much to believe that Charlesand disorganized supporters would initiate a war. Rather, Dryden seems to makea simple point about Charles and the efficacy of remaining loyal to him. The Bibleclaims that the Gentiles would triumph at the end of the age, not the "Jews",and that the end of time would come when "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24) Dryden elaborately demonstrates throughout the poem that Charlesand his friends and loyalists were those spoken of in the Bible. They are the Gentilesof the final peaceful era which was to precede the second coming. How elsecould the following unusual metaphor be explained?


Absalom and Achitophel Essays | GradeSaver

Charles ll becomes King David, Monmouth becomes Absalom, and Shaftesbury; Monmouth’s helper becomes Achitophel.



The poem is addressed to the"Jews", that is, to those "not given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11). This"headstrong, moody murmuring race" (Absalom, 45) was distinct from the smallband of loyalists who were true to Christ. Thus, the poem prepares a frameworkfor the subsequent account of the small group of loyal men who stood by David(metaphorically, Charles I) even in the worst of times. Good resided with thefew who resisted the clamoring multitude. Dryden establishes immediately that onewho found himself reading the poem and determined himself a "Jew" must see thatneither legitimacy, nor righteousness, nor goodness necessarily resided with thelargest number. This theme places David/Charles as the lineal heir of thecovenant through which salvation will come, despite the forces of evil arrayedagainst him.


Essays on absalom and achitophel slide

Monmouth's error was acquiescence to evil, rather than its conscious creation. The blame for treason lays squarely with Shaftesbury, perhaps because, as somesuggest, the poem was written with the intention of convicting Shaftesbury onthe occasion of his trial.6 Shaftesbury was accused of fomentingplots against the king and then, "skulking behind the laws" (207). Shaftesburytempted Absalom's pride and choked the seed sown by Charles. "And as for thatsown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the worldand the delight of riches choke, and it proves unfruitful." (Matt.

Dryden wrote a great allegorical satire named Absalom and Achitophel

This benevolence is thespirit of 1 Samuel 18:5, "Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake." David/Charlesis benevolent, patient, and long-suffering. Achitophel terms this mildnessunmanly.

Absalom and Achitophel as a Politival Satire



How did this corruption comeabout? As in the Bible, the final corruption of the good seed came aboutbecause "it fell among thorns", a passive rather than active event. Absalom,Dryden says, was sought to betray the loyalty of a subject to his king.

Absalom and Achitophel as a Political Satire

But following the parable, the bare lie in this accusation isevident. When Achitophel continues to say that Absalom should rule when "kingsare negligent and weak", (388) the same deflation is achieved. Drydenpunctures the famous Whig dictum, "he who hath the worst title ever makes thebest king." 8 The parable implicitly counters the Whig argument thatthe substitution of Monmouth would serve England better than the heir-apparent,the Catholic James. For Achitophel to say that it is "good husbandry" (508) todepose Charles inverts the truth of the Good Sower parable. It was not,therefore, unintentional that Dryden should subtly allude to the parable of thegood seed fallen among thorns.