Restoration and Neoclassical Miscellanea
Posted by: Jessica Norman
John Dryden wrote Mac Flecknoe to be a satire on Thomas Shadwell as a writer and poet. This was a direct response to Shadwell’s satire The Medal of John Bayes, which was a satire on Dryden’s The Medall. Mac Flecknoe was beautifully written and did not leave much sympathy for the satire’s subject. Because of this lack of sympathy the poem is read as comedic and light hearted instead of a dig at Shadwell. Dryden’s main point about Shadwell as a dull writer is in the lines “Sh—alone my perfect image bears, Mature in dullness from his tender years” (Mac Flecknoe, 15-16). These lines also emphasize that he was dull from a young age, did not learn better, and never would.
Mac Flecknoe can be viewed, not only as a satire, but as a diss poem on Shadwell’s writing. People still diss each other in writings, but it is done a little differently now, but they don’t have the grandeur of Mac Flecknoe. One example of a diss poem on alcoholism has a starting stanza that says: “More pathetic than ever, More pathetic I can’t sever, The life a single bloke, The love to become broke” (just like Alcohol, 1-4). It is dissing those who are unwilling to break their alcohol habits. Poetic dissing has been around for a long time because of people’s differences of opinion. Mac Flecknoe is a diss that was created in the 1600s and people are still satirizing others today. Satire is amusing and as the old saying states, “the best way to make a point is through laughter”.
Satires have always been fun and humorous, but with an underlying tone of insult to whomever, or whatever it may be discussing. Satire is not just for insult, “Satire is amusing because the new meanings of words expose a formerly unnoticed, insightful truth about the old”(Satiric Perspective).
Satire has seeped not only into poetry but music as well.Many songs are satires on the society and on being human. Some have been pop songs that satirized other pop songs. One in particular is “The Fear “ by Lily Allen. It is a pop song satirizing making money off of fluff music while being a piece of fluff music itself. However, music is different in getting the satire across than poetry because music has the advantage of sound. In “The Fear” she sings in a lifeless way to get her satiric sarcasm across to the audience.
One of the biggest satirical singers is Weird Al Yankovic. He takes the tunes of popular songs and creates new lyrics that are a satire on something in the society. Word Crimes is one that is set to the tune of Blurred Lines and is a satire on people who use bad grammar and prose. Some of the lines in the song attack people who use short hand and text language while speaking.
Although satire has changed a bit from Dryden’s time, it still has an impact on the audience by forcing them to look at what is being satirized in a new way.