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Absalom And Achitophel Summary-John Dryden

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Absalom And Achitophel Summary by John Dryden
NameAbsalom And Achitophel
AuthorJohn Dryden


In his satirical narrative poem “Absalom and Achitophel,” Dryden discusses the major characters and events that led up to this crisis using a biblical allegory. The poem boldly exposes Dryden’s firmly royalist beliefs while making fun of the King’s opponents.

English Summary-Absalom And Achitophel

King David controls Israel in the period when priest-craft and polygamy became sins with a firm yet gentle hand. Even though Michal is his real wife, he disperses his seed over the country and produces several progeny. Absalom is the most known and adored of his illegitimate children. Absalom achieves fame in other disciplines and has a charming personality. He is loved, and David listens to his every desire.

But the kingdom of David is not always peaceful. Jews are a capricious, turbulent people who frequently replace their ruler with a new one. While they are divided, they murmur and grumble, but nothing happens. The Jews’ terror of the pagan Jebusites, whose territory they had long since captured, is increased, however, by the rebirth of old conspiracies. The government is threatened by raging factions.

Now is Achitophel’s chance, a brilliant and smart member of David’s council. He believes he must find a way to destroy David because he is restless and craves recognition. He uses the attractive Absalom as his pawn since he is aware of how easily the public may be deceived. Absalom receives praise and charm from Achitophel, who also laments the fact that his modest birth appears to prevent him from ascending to the throne. Absalom’s uncle, a miserable man, is the rightful heir to his father’s estate. Despite Absalom’s affection for his father, Achitophel’s subtle remarks about his father’s flaws start to have an impact on him. Achitophel fills Absalom’s head with adulation. He believes that greatness is in his future.

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After putting his plot into motion, Achitophel dispatches Absalom to win over the populace & turn them against his father. He tells the young man to try for the crown while his father is still alive and warns him about his uncle. Achitophel starts to instigate discontent & unrest among the populace. Going before the people, Absalom quickly wins their love. His notoriety and ostentation detract from the main plot.

Some of the city’s most lethal and corrupt individuals, as well as the tiny but devoted group that sticks by David as tensions rise, may be attributed to Dryden.

When King David finally speaks, he does it in a way that invites neither challenge nor disagreement, proclaiming his authority and legitimacy. This ensures both his long-term rule and the defeat of his foes.

About The Author

John Dryden (1631-1700) was a prominent English poet, playwright, and literary critic who was a major figure in the literary and political circles of the Restoration period in England. He is considered one of the most important literary figures of the late 17th century, and is known for his contributions to poetry, drama, and criticism.

Dryden began his career as a poet with the publication of his first collection of poems, “Heroic Stanzas” in 1659, which was a tribute to the recently deceased Oliver Cromwell. He quickly became a popular writer, and his plays and poems were performed and published throughout the 1660s and 1670s.


Absalom demonstrates that he is not the actual son by succumbing to Achitophel’s temptation and being duped; in doing so, he assumes the role of Adam, whose fall put an end to man’s existence in Eden (Berland 194).

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