It is about Mac Flecknoe When Dryden wrote the poem the political scene of England was dominated by two political parties: The Tories and the Whigs. The Whigs were led by the Earl of Shafts bury who in 1979 introduced the Exclusion Bill in the Parliament following the revelation of a Popish plot to kill Charles II and put James, the the Duke of York, on the throne and also to bring the French army into England.
The object of the Bill was to press the claims of the Duke of Monmouth an illegitimate son of Charles, to the throne. The Bill was passed in the Common but defeated in the Lord’s.
The Country was on the verge of Civil War. The king arrested Shafts bury and banished the Duke of monmouth. But the Jury of Middle sex rejected the treason charges against Shafts bury and released him immediately. To Celebrate the success the Whigs struck a medal bearing the head and name of their hero.
Dryden published his satire. The Medal criticizing the Whigs. There were several replies from the Tories. Thomas Shadwell wrote The Medal of John Bayes Which was actually an indecent and unfair attack of Dryden’s personal life Mac Flecknoe was Dryden’s reply to Shadwell.
Dryen’s poem is a satire. It’s tone is mock heroic and the poet uses irony with telling effect. Richard Flecknoe is ready to vacate his title as the world’s worst poet. A worthy successor has to be chosen. The choice falls on Shadwell. He is to be crowned the king of the realm of dullness.
The venue for the coronation is in Barbican; a suburb notorious for its low and vulgar life. The Ceremony is performed with the usual rites now shown in a new, ludicrous light.