Absalom and Achitophel, verse satire by English poet John Dryden published in The poem, which is written in heroic couplets, is about the Exclusion crisis . Absalom and Achitophel study guide contains a biography of John Dryden, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a. John Dryden, Poetry, Prose, and Plays, ed. Douglas Grant (Reynard Library edition: Hart-Davis, ). PR G7 ROBA. The base text is the second .

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At abdalom the author published the poem anonymously, just to let it become an earworm in the society. The ane goal of it was to prevent the Whigs promote the Exclusion Bill that, in its turn, will prevent James II the current potential King of England from succeeding to the throne. So, the small poem was directed to the changing the monarchy, no less. Achitophel starts to get closer to Absalom, flattering him and describing to the young man his virtues as possible King.

The land, according to Achitophel, needs such a strong and wise ruler as Absalom could be. During his advances we see that Achitophel is right: Absalom is indeed a worthy and noble man, to the point that he utterly rejects the very possibility to disobey his father and, moreover, to overthrow him.

Despite being not the best King as Absalom concludes after long persuasions of AchitophelKing David is still his father, he raised Absalom and was caring and kind.

Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden

So, as an obedient son, he will never step against him. His brother, succeeding to the throne, will be as wise and just as Absalom is, but this change will be at least legitimate. Achitophel, though, is not satisfied with this suggestion. The young and naive Absalom is easy to manipulate, unlike the older and much jonh experienced brother of King David. So Achitophel resorts to the personal reasons: Embittered, the young man berates and rejects his own mother for being of low origin.


He dreams about becoming noble, so that he could be really worthy to be the ruler. Seeing this moment of weakness, Achitophel doubles his efforts.

Absalom and Achitophel | poetry by Dryden and Tate |

He points out that the people have the right to choose their own King, not being limited by noble David achitophwl his brother. The King is the one who cares about his country the best, not the one who was born in special conditions. The last arguments of Achitophel solidify his portrayal as an evil and ruthless sociopath.

Achitophel starts from flattering Absalom and he tells the truth: But during the talks to Achitophel, Absalom loses them one by one.

This statement is, of course, true: Still he loves his father and offers Achitophel another way to change the current state of affairs: Absalom is still too humble to agree that he is the only one who can become the new King. From now on, the image of Achitophel is outright demonised. We see the sharp contrast between the two characters: His only concern is his own power. He just need at least partially legitimate proxy to rule.

Achitophel reminds the young prince about the most painful part of his life: This is a point of no return for Absalom. He bitterly rejects his mother — a terrible sin to the Biblical and modern moral standards — just for being born of low origin.

It contrasts so much with his previous words about King David as his loving father no matter what.

We see that Absalom is ready to reject his devotion to parents — he just started from the least important one for him. Just mere seconds later, Absalom is horrified by his own words and his weakness, but it is too late: The pinnacle of his advances and the most incomprehensibly disgusting part is comparing the crown and its bearers to the victimized women who secretly dream about being raped. This predatory and primal attitude can horrify anyone from the modern society it goes well beyond the definition of harassmentbut it was equally unsetting for the contemporaries of John Drydenjust maybe because of slightly different reasons.


Moreover, comparing David himself to such a woman, Achitophel urges Absalom to rape his own father. We, as readers, are now unsure that Achitophel needs only the power and the crown for himself. Now it looks like his goal was to thoroughly destroy anything good and right in Absalom. Manipulating the audience with the help of the primal human fears and taboos, John Dryden, without even showing King David Charles II persuades the readers that he is way, way better than the Earl of Shaftesbury and anyone he decides to take under his wing.

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Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden: Detailed Summary

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