'Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow' by John Dryden


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Marriage -la-ModeWhy should a foolish marriage vow,Which long ago was made,
Oblige us to each other now
When passion is decay'd?
We lov'd, and we lov'd, as long as we could,
Till our love was lov'd out in us both:
But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled:
'Twas pleasure first made it an oath.If I have pleasures for a friend,
And farther love in store,
What wrong has he whose joys did end,
And who could give no more?
'Tis a madness that he should be jealous of me,
Or that I should bar him of another:
For all we can gain is to give our selves pain,
When neither can hinder the other.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Introduction

John Dryden's "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is a poem of four stanzas, each containing four lines. It was published in 1693, in a collection titled "Fables Ancient and Modern". The poem is written in heroic couplets, a form that Dryden was famous for, and its language is straightforward and unadorned. At first glance, the poem appears to be a love poem, but on closer inspection, it is a critical commentary on the institution of marriage. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore Dryden's poem and examine its themes, style, and significance.

Themes

One of the primary themes of "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is the idea that marriage is a foolish vow. Dryden argues that marriage is an unnecessary and restrictive institution that forces people to give up their freedom and individuality. He writes, "Why should a foolish marriage vow/ Which long ago was made/ Oblige us to each other now/ When passion is decay'd?" (lines 1-4). Dryden suggests that the vows made in marriage are made in a state of passion, and that passion is fleeting. Once the passion has faded, the vows should no longer be binding.

Another theme in the poem is the idea of free love. Dryden argues that love should be free and unconstrained, and that people should not be forced into marriage. He writes, "We to the full enjoy'd the thought/ Of love in all its sweets;/ But now the pleasing image's naught,/ Wherein the lover meets" (lines 9-12). Dryden suggests that love is better when it is not tied to marriage, and that people should be free to enjoy the pleasures of love without the restraints of marriage.

Style

Dryden's style in "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is straightforward and unadorned. He uses simple language and short, concise sentences to convey his message. The poem is written in heroic couplets, a form that Dryden was famous for.

Dryden's use of repetition throughout the poem is significant. The phrase "Why should a foolish marriage vow" is repeated three times, emphasizing the poem's central theme. Dryden also repeats the word "now" in lines 4 and 8, suggesting that the vows made in marriage are no longer relevant in the present.

Significance

The significance of "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" lies in its critique of the institution of marriage. Dryden's poem challenges the traditional view of marriage as a holy and binding institution, and instead suggests that it is a foolish and unnecessary vow. Dryden's poem was written during a time of great social change, as people began to question the traditional roles and institutions that had governed society for centuries.

Dryden's poem can also be read as a commentary on the nature of love. He suggests that love is better when it is free and unconstrained, rather than tied to the restrictions of marriage. Dryden's poem prefigures the Romantic era, in which love and passion were celebrated as the highest ideals.

Conclusion

In conclusion, John Dryden's "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is a significant poem that challenges the traditional view of marriage as a holy and binding institution. Dryden's critique of marriage suggests that it is an unnecessary and restrictive vow, and that love is better when it is free and unconstrained. Dryden's use of repetition and his straightforward style emphasize the central message of the poem. "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is a valuable contribution to the literary canon, and a precursor to the Romantic era's celebration of love and passion.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow: A Masterpiece by John Dryden

John Dryden, the renowned English poet, playwright, and literary critic, is known for his exceptional works that have stood the test of time. One of his most celebrated poems is "Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow," which is a masterpiece that explores the complexities of love, marriage, and commitment. In this article, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and literary devices to understand why it is considered a classic.

Themes

The poem's central theme is the futility of marriage vows. Dryden argues that marriage vows are foolish because they are often made in haste and without proper consideration. He believes that people should not be bound by vows that they made when they were young and foolish. Instead, they should be free to pursue their desires and passions without the constraints of marriage.

Another theme that runs through the poem is the idea of love as a fleeting emotion. Dryden suggests that love is not a permanent state but rather a passing feeling that fades over time. He believes that people should not be forced to stay in a loveless marriage simply because they made a vow. Instead, they should be allowed to move on and find happiness elsewhere.

Structure

The poem is written in rhyming couplets, which gives it a musical quality. The use of iambic pentameter also adds to the poem's rhythm and flow. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with eight lines. The first two stanzas present the argument against marriage vows, while the third stanza offers a solution.

The first stanza begins with a rhetorical question: "Why should a foolish marriage vow, / Which long ago was made, / Oblige us to each other now, / When passion is decayed?" Dryden is questioning the validity of marriage vows and suggesting that they should not be binding if the passion has faded.

The second stanza continues this argument, stating that "We loved, and we loved, as long as we could, / Till our love was loved out in us both." Dryden is suggesting that love is not a permanent state and that it is natural for it to fade over time.

The third stanza offers a solution to the problem of marriage vows. Dryden suggests that people should be allowed to move on and find happiness elsewhere. He writes, "But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled: / 'Twas pleasure first made it an oath." Dryden is arguing that marriage vows should not be binding if the pleasure has gone.

Literary Devices

Dryden uses several literary devices to convey his message in the poem. One of the most prominent devices is the use of rhetorical questions. Dryden uses these questions to challenge the validity of marriage vows and to make the reader question their own beliefs about marriage.

Another device that Dryden uses is imagery. He uses vivid descriptions to paint a picture of the fleeting nature of love. For example, he writes, "Our hearts were as gay as the flowers in May, / And our tongues were like musical strings." This imagery creates a sense of nostalgia for the past and emphasizes the transience of love.

Dryden also uses repetition to emphasize his point. He repeats the phrase "We loved, and we loved" in the second stanza to emphasize the idea that love is not a permanent state.

Conclusion

"Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow" is a masterpiece by John Dryden that explores the complexities of love, marriage, and commitment. The poem's themes of the futility of marriage vows and the fleeting nature of love are still relevant today. Dryden's use of structure, literary devices, and vivid imagery make the poem a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers.

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