Observance and Nonobservance of three Unities in Drama

 Introduction: The unities (unity of time, unity of place and unity of action) figure prominently in debate which takes place in Dryden’s essay. Each of the four speakers has some observations to make as regards to the unities. Here Dryden’s observations are mentioned-

 Dryden admits that, the French are more exact in observing the loss of drama. But he points out that some French dramatists have themselves admitted that the observance of rules not only has a limiting effect on the dramatist but is also harmful in so far as it keeps out many beauties from a play. They have brought on themselves the scarcity if plot and narrowness of imagination. In other words it has impoverished French plays. Many beautiful incidents might naturally happen in two or three days which cannot take place with any probability during a short time of twenty four hours.

 Of course regularity can be a merit if there are other excellences in the play. In fact, Ben Jonson observes the three unities in most of his comedies and he is a great dramatist. On the other hand the violation of the unities is no demerit if there are other excellences in a play. All the plays of Shakespeare with the exception of The Tempest are irregular in the fact that all the three unities have been violated in them in a glaring manner too. And yet Shakespeare’s plays are the greatest in the histories of English drama.



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