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English Drama 1660–1700$
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Derek Hughes

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198119746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119746.001.0001

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Astraea Redux? Drama, 1660–1668

Astraea Redux? Drama, 1660–1668

(p.30) Chapter Two Astraea Redux? Drama, 1660–1668
English Drama 1660–1700

Derek Hughes

Oxford University Press

The early celebrations of restoration, such as John Dryden's poem Astraea Redux, depict the return of justice to a world distracted by anarchy and subverted degree, but the treatment of justice rapidly becomes more critical, as a result both of rapid reassessment of the new regime and of growing interest in those aspects of life that are not socially assimilable. On the one hand, there are encounters between the ministers of justice and the forces of the flesh (carnival, festivity, saturnalia), the balance between authority and licence undergoing several revealing shifts during the period. On the other hand, interest in the perceptual and epistemological isolation of the individual consciousness leads to emphasis on the imprecision and even meaninglessness of legal judgement: on the inevitable mismatch between publicly formulated judicial categories (such as guilt and innocence) and the invisible individual consciousness to which they are applied.

Keywords:   restoration, John Dryden, Astraea Redux, justice, anarchy, carnival, festivity, saturnalia, guilt, innocence

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