The three plays in this volume, composed between 1672 or 1673 and 1675, demonstrate Dryden's versatility and inventiveness as a dramatist. Amboyna, a tragedy written to stir the English to prosecute the Third Dutch War, describes the destruction by the Dutch of English trading posts on two Indonesian islands. Regarded in its time as sensationalist, it is really a dignified drama that decries violence. The State of Innocence, termed an opera, is a rhymed version of Milton's Paradise Lost. Though never performed or set to music, it became one of Dryden's most widely read dramas. Aureng-Zebe, the last and generally considered the best of Dryden's rhymed heroic plays, portrays the rise to power of Mogul emperor Aureng-Zebe (1618-1707).
Vinton A. Dearing is Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles.