Stylistic majesty in Dryden's Religio Laici
Piper, William B.
Master of Arts
In the Preface to Religio Laici Dryden announces his intention to write a poem in which majesty (traditionally an element of the high style) is combined with plainness and naturalness (traditionally elements of the low style). Though various shifts occur in Dryden*s conception of stylistic majesty over a thirty-year period, it is possible to identify a set of aspects which are most central to his conception and then examine the poem for its inclusion or exclusion of these central aspects. As might be expected, Religio Laici is only unevenly and partially majestic by the lights of this procedure, and this shortcoming may be traced to the inherent difficulties of attempting to join elements of the high and low styles.