Mac Flecknoe Characters

Mac Flecknoe Character List

Mac Flecknoe

The first name mentioned in the poem is Mac Flecknoe and the poet reveals that Mac Flecknoe is the monarch over a non-sense kingdom. Mac Flecknoe ruled over his kingdom for a long time and he reached the point where he had to name a successor. During Mac Flecknoe’s speech after Shadwell’s coronation, the poet transmits the idea that Mac Flecknoe not only does he lack in talent but that he also despises all those who have more talent than him and those who can write better than him. Mac Flecknoe has no desire to get better and considers that being mediocre is a safe place for a writer. He even encourages Shadwell to remain always dull and to reject those who may want to help him get better with his writing. Mac Flecknoe is used in the poem in a satiric way and many believe that when Dryden used the name Mac Flecknoe he referred to a real British poet ,Richard Flecknoe, known for having no literary talent whatsoever but for paying others to write his poems for him. the difference between him and the other characters mentioned in the poem is that while Shadwell and Singleton where both contemporaries with Dryden, Richard Flecknoe was a poet who lived long before Dryden’s time.


Shadwell is presented as being Mac Flecknoe’s son, the one who resembles his father completely. When the poet describes him, Shadwell is presented as being stupid, dull and boring, having no intelligence whatsoever. Shadwell is the main subject in the poem written by Dryden and the harsh description Dryden offered was a result of a feud he had with a contemporary writer named Thomas Shadwell. Certain details regarding Shadwell’s past are included in the poem leaving no question regarding who the character is based on. Dryden makes numerous jokes aimed at Shadwell and his talent of rather lack of talent and he manages to create the image of an incompetent writer who is loved by no reason at all. The references made towards human waste and linked with Shadwell’s name transmit the idea that for Dryden, Shadwell is just as valuable as trash and that he has no real purpose in life.


The name Singleton appears once in the poem when Shadwell’s arrival in London is described. There are not many details given about him but it is mentioned that Singleton is jealous that Shadwell was named heir to the throne and not him. Because of this, one can assume that the writer believed that just like Shadwell, Singleton has not literary talent and that Singleton is just as witless as Shadwell. Just like in Shadwell’s case who was based on a real person, Singleton is also a writer who lived during the same time as Dryden and Shadwell.

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