The heroic play was the special product of the Restorations drama. The Puritan rule closed the theatre in England in 1642. But the drama retained its hold under the Cromwell government. The playwright William Davenant obtained permission to stage a play called ¡§The Siege of Rhodes¡¨ an opera* in 1656. To this opera pattern, Dryden contributed the heroic play, ¡§The Conquest of Granada¡¨. In it he cited examples of the ancient Greek writer Ariosto, with his story of love and valour (great bravery) as to his conception of the heroic play. Thus the heroic play combined some of the features of an Epic poem with some features of drama but was utterly ...view middle of the document...
Antony is not portrayed as his hero in a grand manner by Dryden. He is not portrayed as a man possessing superhuman bravery. It is true that Ventidius pays a rich tribute to Antony's glory and valour belong only to past. Thus it is a realistic play without much heroic deeds.
fæ Some elements of heroic play:
In All for Love, there are certainly some elements its written might be regarded as giving to this play the character of a heroic play. For example the extravagant friendship of Ventidius and Antony is drawn on heroic scale. Ventidius remains loyal and devoted to Antony from first to last, though he is conscious of Antony's weakness. Ventidius remains sincerely devoted to Antony in spite of the fact that Antony lets him down twice in the course of the play. This kind of friendship on the part of Ventidius may be looked as absurd and unrealistic.
Similarly, we find, the extravagant friendship, between Antony and Dolabella. Antony's glowing account of his friendship with Dolabella may be regarded as 'almost absurd'. Antony tells Ventidius that he was Dolabella's soul and that Dolabella lived only in Antony. The two men were so closed within each other's breast that even rivets could not join then more closely. They were like 'meeting streams'. They were one man. Now this kind of friendship is incredible. We know that Shakespeare too, depicted an exceptional friendship between Antonio and Bassanio in his Merchant of Venice, but the kind of friendship which Antony here depicts is of most unusual kind and in exaggerated form.
One more feature of heroic play can be traced in Cleopatra's portrayal. Dryden's Cleopatra has been portrayed as a woman of exceptional virtue and fidelity (loyalty). She is not the same Cleopatra whom we meet in Shakespeare's play. Indeed, Dryden's Cleopatra is a model of perfection. Nowhere does she give any sign and disloyalty. She remains constant and virtuous. Even the pretence which she puts up of having fallen in love with Dolabella is adopted by her very much against her own will. The portrayal of Cleopatra, therefore, seems to link this play with the species called heroic play.
Also, we find the suicides of lover that shows an extravagant of passion in both. The suicides of Antony and Cleopatra are a historical fact. But they have historical fact behind them. Antony is shown as a Herculean* Hero. According to a critic, All for Love depicts the Herculean Hero's quest for unbounded (unrestrained) love instead of a quest for unbolted (unfastened) power. We do not see Antony's mind with his desire for Cleopatra at the time of military conquest. At the end of the play, instead of the heroic image of Antony visualized by Shakespeare¡¦s play we are presented with a stage picture of the bodies of the two lovers, regally (majestically) attired (clothes ¡V formal) and seated next to each other in throne like chairs. Thus in this play, the world is well lost for the kind of love which...