Characteristics of Restoration Poetry

Characteristics of Restoration Poetry

The Restoration period in English literature, spanning from 1660 to 1688, was marked by a significant shift in poetic style and content. This period saw the emergence of several important literary figures, including John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and Andrew Marvell, who contributed to the development of a distinct style of poetry that reflected the political, social, and cultural changes of the time. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics of Restoration poetry and their significance.


One of the most significant characteristics of Restoration poetry was the influence of neoclassicism. Neoclassicism was a literary movement that sought to revive the classical ideals of order, harmony, and proportion. Restoration poets drew inspiration from the works of classical poets such as Virgil, Homer, and Horace, and sought to emulate their style and themes in their own work. This led to the development of a more structured and formal style of poetry, characterized by the use of the heroic couplet and classical allusions.


Another important characteristic of Restoration poetry was the use of satire. Satire was a popular literary device that allowed poets to critique society and politics in a humorous and often scathing manner. Satirical works such as Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” and John Dryden’s “Mac Flecknoe” poked fun at the social and political conventions of the time and were often aimed at specific individuals or groups. Satire was seen as a means of social commentary and a reflection of the changing attitudes towards authority and tradition.

READ ALSO:  Summary of Neoclassicism Movement

Love and …exuality

Restoration poetry was also characterized by a preoccupation with love and …exuality. The period saw a rise in erotic and sensual poetry, reflecting a growing interest in the pleasures of the flesh. Poets such as John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, and Aphra Behn wrote works that were explicitly…xual and challenged traditional gender roles and expectations. This focus on love and …exuality was a reflection of the changing attitudes towards love, marriage, and relationships in the period.

Political and Social Commentary

Restoration poetry also served as a means of political and social commentary. Poets such as John Dryden and Andrew Marvell wrote works that were critical of the monarchy and the ruling class, reflecting a growing sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction with the government. The period was marked by political upheaval and social change, and poets used their works to reflect and comment on these changes.

In conclusion, Restoration poetry was characterized by the influence of neoclassicism, the use of satire, a preoccupation with love and sexuality, political and social commentary, and a focus on wit and humour. These characteristics reflected the political, social, and cultural changes of the time and contributed to the development of a distinctive style of poetry that is still studied and appreciated today.

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