Essay, Research Paper: Second Shepherds Play


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The Second Shepherds Play goes against many of the characteristics that Horace
believes should be in a play. The play does not stay in the boundaries of genres
by mixing comedy with seriousness. It is not consistent; it is not without
surprises. Finally, the author did not completely believe in Dulce Et Utile or
does he carefully weigh the judgment of his work. This play combines a little
bit of comedy with extreme seriousness. The play begins with three shepherds
guarding their sheep when a character named Mak joins them. Mak steals a sheep
while the shepherds are sleeping and take it home to his wife. When the
shepherds arrive at Mak's house to see if he has stolen the sheep they are
fooled into believing that the sheep is a new born baby that Makís wife has
just delivered. Even with a close up view of the sheep/baby, the shepherds
believe it is just an ugly baby with a big snout. The punishment that the
shepherds inflict on Mak when they finally realize the baby is a sheep is quite
comical also. Stealing is a serious crime and it has been for quite some time.
The shepherd simply place Mak inside a blanket and toss him up and down a few
times. When the shepherds are finished inflicting their punishment on Mak they
return to guard their sheep. At this point in the play the plot takes a complete
turn from comedy to seriousness. Other than the three shepherds still being
characters in the play, the whole plot changes. The three shepherds receive word
that baby Jesus is born in Bethlehem. The play goes from one extreme to the
other surprisingly fast; it is almost two separate plays. Dulce Et Utile is a
Latin word that means to give pleasure and profit. When a writer has the gift of
story telling they should share it by writing and publishing their stories or
plays. Someone with a true gift of being able to write will give pleasure to
those who read it. When a story or play is published and bought by those who
read it, the author makes a profit from it. The author of The Second Shepherds
Play is unknown. During the day and age when this play was written it was not
the proper profession to have being a writer. If one was lucky enough to have
the talent of being a writer they did it without signing their name to it. Not
only did this not reveal the author, but also it prevented the author from
receiving any real profit from his works. This is very unlike the Greek and
Roman days when the playwright would have a choragos for his play. A choragos is
a financial backer that would pay the playwright a salary while he was writing
the play and support the performance of it at the festival. If the playwright
were lucky enough to win at the festival they would receive more profit from
their play. The author of this play did not carefully weigh the judgment of his
work. If he had carefully weighed the judgment of his work, he would have been
proud of it and signed his name to it. It is obviously good work or it wouldn't
be published and studied today. Maybe The Second Shepherds Play does go against
the characteristics that Horace feels should be included in plays, but then
maybe it has characteristics of its own. The author of course will never see the
profit that this play has generate from being published and performed, but maybe
someday, someone will find out who the author is and give recognition where it
is due.
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