The Alchemist - Ben Jonson - Comedie, Instruction.

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John Dryden wrote that "the first end of Comedie is delight, and instruction only the second; it can be reasonably inferr'd that Comedie is not so much oblig'd to the punishment of the faults which it represents." How far do you agree with this statement when considering the punishment of the personal and social faults in The Alchemist and Much Ado About Nothing? When considering the punishment of faults within ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing (Much Ado)’, it is important to recognise that Jonson and Shakespeare held contrasting approaches to entertaining their audiences. Jonson prioritising the “instruction” and “punishment” of his audience, inviting them to revel in “delight” as they witness an onstage depiction of their inner desires condemned to humiliation and chastisement, helping them to become “better men” as his prologue suggests. Shakespeare on the other hand chooses to primarily “delight” his audience, the processes of “instruction” and “punishment” incurred as a result of this “delight”. Dryden’s critique can be proved to a significant degree through the analysis of both plays, the contrasting attitudes of both playwrights in regards to entertaining their audience proving that “the first end of Comedie is delight” with “instruction” and “punishment” of personal and social faults second to the power of any given comedy. An apt and ingenious choice of setting is imperative to the success of any play, particularly one which belongs to the genre of comedy. Ben Jonson uses Blackfriars as his setting in order to enhance the satirical power of his play whilst Shakespeare uses Messina to punish personal and social faults in an environment which allows his audience to disassociate themselves with the characters of the play, allowing them to take “delight” in a literary fantasy. The aspects of Dryden’s critique suggesting that “the first end of comedy
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