Marriage A-La-Mode

Tragedy and Comedy of the Times in Dryden's "Marriage-a-la-Mode"

The English Restoration significantly impacted the work of the artists of the day. As England moved from a monarchy under Charles I, to a commonwealth under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, and then back again to a monarchy with Charles II on the throne, artists, and in particular playwrights, were given much fodder to explore in their respective fields. The struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism, identifying a clear successor, and discussing royalist loyalties were among the themes that often made their way into the literary work of this period. John Dryden, one of the most prolific and well-known Restoration playwrights, discusses questions of Royalist loyalty, moral uprightness, and unclear succession.

Tragicomedy was the form taken by most of these Restoration dramas, from 1660 to nearly the eighteenth century. The form was influenced heavily by the French. Nancy Klein Maguire writes: "Continental influence, especially that of the French, spurred interest in tragicomedy. Charles I's wife, Henrietta Maria, was a French princess with strong dramatic interests. Many of the Restoration playwrights had been with Charles II during his exile and spent many years in France. They acquired French tastes, and among...

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