Absalom and Achitophel


John Dryden

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Absalom and Achitophel can help.

Ishbosheth Character Analysis

Saul’s son and the king of Israel briefly before David’s reign. Dryden mentions Ishbosheth’s short reign before David comes out of exile, but the finicky Jews don’t want Ishbosheth as their king, so they push for David. Ishbosheth represents Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard, who ruled England for a short time between Cromwell’s death and the restoration of Charles II to the throne.

Ishbosheth Quotes in Absalom and Achitophel

The Absalom and Achitophel quotes below are all either spoken by Ishbosheth or refer to Ishbosheth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Absalom and Achitophel published in 2001.
Absalom and Achitophel Quotes

The Jews, a headstrong, moody, murmuring race
As ever tried th’ extent and stretch of grace,
God’s pampered people, whom, debauched with ease,
No king could govern nor no god could please
(Gods they had tried of every shape and size
That god-smiths could produce, or priests devise),
These Adam-wits, too fortunately free,
Began to dream they wanted liberty;
And when no rule, no precedent was found
Of men by laws less circumscribed and bound,
They led their wild desires to woods and caves,
And thought that all but savages were slaves.
They who, when Saul was dead, without a blow
Made foolish Ishbosheth the crown forgo,
Who banished David did from Hebron bring
And, with a general shout, proclaimed him king.

Related Characters: David, Saul, Ishbosheth
Related Symbols: The Crown
Page Number: 115-116
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Absalom and Achitophel LitChart as a printable PDF.
Absalom and Achitophel PDF

Ishbosheth Character Timeline in Absalom and Achitophel

The timeline below shows where the character Ishbosheth appears in Absalom and Achitophel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Absalom and Achitophel
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
God, Religion, and the Divine Right of Kings Theme Icon
...will go to great lengths to get it. After the death of Saul, for example, Ishbosheth was king. But it wasn’t long before the people brought David back from exile in... (full context)