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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

VII. The Restoration Drama

§ 4. The Heroic Play

Another important factor in the development of tragedy, viz. the influence, direct and indirect, of French romance and drama, produced its first important result in the heroic play, which has been discussed in treating of the works of its chief representative and unapproached master, Dryden.

The heroic play was not, however, an entirely new growth. For the most part, it was French, but the influence of the Elizabethan dramatists may also be traced in it; and though, at first sight, it may appear to represent a departure from previous methods and ideals, and to be a distinct breaking-away from the established traditions of tragedy in England, yet a more careful examination shows that, in the main, it was the natural successor of the late Elizabethan drama, modified according to prevailing tastes, and confined within the pseudo-classical limits which were the order of the day. Under these conditions, it is not surprising that the heroic play did not take deep root in English soil. By 1680, tragedies in verse were going out of fashion, and the English tragic manner, as opposed to the French, began to re-assert itself in the work of contemporary dramatists.