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Why Should A Foolish Marriage Vow Analysis



Author: poem of John Dryden Type: poem Views: 9


Why 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.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




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Marriage à la Mode is a Restoration comedy by John Dryden, first performed in London in 1673 by the King\'s Company. It is written in a combination of prose, blank verse and heroic couplets. It has often been praised as Dryden’s best comedic endeavour, the comic scenes are beautifully written, and Dryden has taken care to connect them with the serious plot by a number of effective links. He writes with one of the most thoughtful treatments of sex and marriage that Restoration comedy can show.
The play contains two songs, \"Why Should a Foolish Marriage Vow\" by Robert Smith and\"Whilst Alexis Lay Pressed\" by Nicholas Staggins, both set to Dryden\'s lyrics and printed in the 1673 book Choice Songs and Ayres for One Voyce to Sing to the Theorbo-Lute or Bass-Viol.
‘Why Should a Foolish Marriage Vow’ by John Dryden features in his famous Comedy, ‘Marriage à la Mode’. This poem is a short and simple poem written in blank verse in two stanzas. On a brief account, the theme of this poem is marriage and love. Not one that is happy and successful, but one that is drained out all that. This poem is typical of a Restoration poem, not Romantic, sensuous or even picturesque. It is very plain and in fact dry.

The title, ‘Why Should a Foolish Marriage Vow’ is the perfect title. It is even the first verse of the poem. It is a question without a question mark. So, it could be thought of as a rhetorical question, one that does not require a reply. The reply is obvious. The obvious reply is a marriage vow long ago made need not have to lead our lives till the very end. There is more to life than to stick onto a marriage vow, and Dryden is telling his audience that it is not necessary for a weak marriage to lead our everyday life.

Dryden begins his poem with a question,

“Why should a foolish marriage vow,
Which long ago was made,
Oblige us to each other now
When passion is decay\'d?”
The question is raised by a wife to her husband. Thus, the poem is a monologue in the point of view of the wife addressing her husband. The passion once they shared in their marriage life is now ‘decay’d’, it is withered. So, is it not foolish to oblige by just a vow once long ago made even to this day? Asks the wife. These lines have a nice rhyme scheme; the last words of the odd numbered lines ‘vow’ and ‘now’ rhyme, making it a sing-song beginning.
“We lov\'d, and we lov\'d, as long as we could,
Till our love was lov\'d out in us both:”
This passage uses the word ‘love four times, “we lov’d, and we lov’d”, they loved for a long time and they loved each other a lot as long as they could. But, it is all past now, says the poet. They loved so much that the love they shared reached it breakdown point, till their love was ‘lov’d out’. Pleasure is what kept the marriage going, when that died out the marriage dies along with it,
“But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled:
\'Twas pleasure first made it an oath.”
The poem is painful; nobody wants to run out of love. And when that becomes reality, pain creeps in. The second stanza gives use more insight into the situation the couple is facing. The wife is actually facing a dilemma. She has “pleasures for a friend”, “farther love in store. The first four lines of the second stanza are also a question. The poet is questioning, in what way is her husband wronged for all the joys of marriage to come to an end? He could not give any more love to his wife, it is drained out completely, but, she has developed love for somebody else.
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?
The wife says that the husband should be mad if he were to be jealous of her because she had found love far away to another man. For, she herself hasn’t barred her husband to search for another woman. She has absolutely no passion left for her husband; she is fully open for him to be open to another besides her. She concludes by saying “all we can give is to give ourselves pain”. The marriage has ended in pain and it is visible to both. Her last line is more like a suggestion, “neither can hinder the other”. Both of us can go our ways; let us not continue through pain.
\'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.
I would like to conclude by mentioning about the poem in present day and during the Restoration. Reading this poem in the post-modern era, it doesn’t feel wrong. It doesn’t feel wrong that a wife wants to go her way and not continue her unsuccessful marriage to her husband. Rather than being in ruins the rest of her life, they can part ways and make a happy life separately. The piece of art from the Restoration period is probably meant to be vulgar because it is wrong for a wife to think this way, to have an extra marital affair and that in turn brings about the thoughtful treatment of love and marriage like in many Dryden works and Restoration works.

| Posted on 2010-09-16 | by a guest




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