[PDF Notes] What were the purposes of the Heroic play

The Purpose of the Heroic play was not to arouse “pity and fear” but admiration. “Admiration”, as used by the writers of the age, was an ethical term. The purpose of an epic was to instruct princes, and this was also the purpose of the heroic play. Now instruction through example is much more effective than through precepts.

This “admiration”, or teaching through example, which is admired and imitated, was accepted as the legitimate function of the drama. Dryden emphasized three virtues, Voyeur, Duty and Love, for which the poet should arouse admiration, the dramatist must present “patterns of virtue” in his plays.

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