During the Restoration Era, which lasted from 1660 to 1666, modern literature such as novels, biography, and journalism hit its peak because of new scientific discoveries and she philosophical ideas. An English poet, writer, and literary critic, John Dryden, dominated the literary field during the Restoration Era to the point where the era was referred to as the Age of Dryden. Dryden’s philosophy of love reveals that humans need love, without it, life would be meaningless and fruitless.
John Dryden, the poet of “Can Life Be A Blessing,” persuasively establishes details of the contrasting effects of love by incorporating personification and metaphors in order to fervently develop the justification that love is a necessary factor in life. Dryden starts off the poem with rhetorical questions in order to stir the minds of the readers by introducing the main idea of the poem. He raises the question “Can life be a blessing, / Or worth the possessing, / Can life be a blessing if love were away?” (lines 1-3). By asking this question, it gets the reader to think about the value love has in life; whether love is a vital part of life or not.
Often, when a baby is born, it is considered a blessing and even a miracle that they received the gift of life. In the Christian religion, “blessings” are commonly seen as Godsent and holy. In the Bible, life is seen as a blessing from the almighty God because mankind was given the precious breath of life from God himself.
It is reoccurently said that “your body is a temple” and that you should take care it because it is the home of the holy spirit. When Dryden uses the dicton “possessing” he is inquiring whether life is worth living if there was no love. These ideas of “life not being a blessing” and “not worth possessing” if there was no love in life stir reader’s emotions by evoking Christian beliefs of the value of life. The statement contradicts Christian beliefs because it implies that life has no value if there were no love whereas the Bible shows life is always precious no matter what situation because it was given by God. Dryden made a bold statement that implied love outweighs the importance of God because it discards the belief that life is a gift from God by saying life is worthless to live without love. Dryden’s use of diction clarifies that the effects that love brings are not always beneficial. He writes ” Ah no! Though our love all night keep us waking, / And though he torment us with cares all the day,” (lines 4-5). During this sentence, Dryden captures the burdens that love can bring in life.
In translation, he says that love can keep people restless throughout the night. Whether it would be because of lovers’ quarrel, butterflies in young lovers’ stomach, or even spending sleepless nights with a loved one, Dryden reveals that love can bring hardships. Then, he goes on saying that love makes people care to the point it can become a heavy burden.
Dryden uses the diction “torments” which has negative connotations of torture and pain. Although the use of “care” allows readers to think of positive connotations such as affection and protection, the application of “torment” changes the interpretation of the sentence. This use of paradox allows readers to have a different perspective on love and makes the readers carefully think about what Dryden is trying to point out. When people care about others, it may not always benefit both the people involved; whether it would be the person giving or receiving affection. Caring is a way of expressing affection and it can be beneficial, but sometimes an excessive amount of anything could be harmful. To the point where love “torments” someone with care clearly conveys the message that love can be unhealthy.
A person could obsess about their own appearance or personality in order to get the affection of someone they love because they care about what others’ think. Sometimes love can make someone worry about another person because they care about their wellbeing. These types of “cares” can burden a person with undesirable weary and insecurities. The diction in the sentence allows the reader to produce the thought that love can be detrimental, which opposes Dryden’s idea that love is essential in life. Dryden utilizes the use of personification as he compares love to a “he.
” Dryden states that “Yet he sweetens, he sweetens our pains in the taking,” (line 6). Referring love to a “he,” Dryden gives personality and assigns behavior to the inanimate word or feeling “love”. This allows Dryden to add vivid description that shows how love affects people. In this sentence, Dryden gives a counter argument for his previous statements that revealed love can have a negative effect.
He explains in this sentence that even though love may bring negative consequences, it can ease our pain. The feeling that comes from one person loving another person can make someone forget all their hardships and even sufferings. Love can be used as an escape because of the positive emotions it can bring. The word “sweetens” allows readers to dramatically glamourize that at the end of the day, love will save the day. Dryden’s use of personification to illustrate the of love allows him to persuade the readers that the good outcomes of love outweighs the bad. With the use of metaphors, Dryden compared love to a fruit. Referring to love as “the fruit of our pain,” Dryden shows that love can be an end product of pain (line 10). Dryden shows that pain is the tree that grows fruits of love over time.
He exploits that pain can bring love because no matter how much pain a person can be in, in the end, a heart can be healed and pain will pass over time and love will come again. “Poor lovers forget the long ages of anguish,” because they heal over time since they do not choose to live in the past with all their pain and sufferings (line 11). A person who goes through a heartbreak may feel as if they will never be able to love again, but just like how a tree cannot produce fruits after a day, a person cannot force themselves to find love so soon. They have to outgrow the pain just like how a tree grows again after a gruesome winter. Then, after a while flowers and fruits will start sprouting and blossoming and that is when the fruit of love can be picked again. Dryden ignites hope for the readers by developing the thought that such a distressing feeling like pain can turn into love. This visually pleases the readers because fruits are seen as beautiful, healthy, and often sweet and it evokes the emotional desire and hope for the reader to have love in their lives. Dryden argues with this statement that love necessary in life because love can come in any form or even situation, helping improve the quality of life.
Dryden, using a reflective and a contemplative tone, concludes that love is worth it in the end no matter what a person has to go through. He reflects “Whate’er they have suffer’d and done to obtain; / ‘Tis a pleasure, a pleasure to sigh and to languish, / When we hope, when we hope to be happy again” (lines 12-14). He implies that the suffering and pain a person goes through because of love or everything one does in order to gain love will be worth it in the end. After the trial and ordeal a person goes through, he explains that there will be a relief and a feeling of pleasure that comes knowing they got through the obstacle. Just as a person gets through their storm, there is a rainbow waiting for them. After all the hardships, they can still become happy as long as they seek it. Dryden romanticizes the idea that everything will be okay after people sacrifice themselves for the sake of love. He makes it seem as though love will conquer all in the end, no matter what situation someone has to deal with.
This sentence motivates and persuades the reader that love will always have a good conclusion even if someone has to go through hell first by showing the irony that there has to be pain in order to acquire love. He places upon people that life is about experiencing love, whether love will give sorrow or happiness. The irony that one can be healed by something that hurt them places a shock on the reader and makes them convinced that even if love causes pain, it is necessary because it is something that can make one’s life feel whole again. Throughout the poem, Dryden presents the importance of love as he asserts reasonings to why love is essential in life. Love is what forms and shapes people’s lives.
Without love, life can often be colorless and dull. Although love can bring misfortunes, it can also bring delightful emotions and healing. Alian de Botton once stated, “Perhaps it’s really true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.”