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This when combined with upward aspirations and downward suppressed fantasies form a wonderful sub-plot to the whole drama. The unreasonable social mores is represented by Egeus, who is one character who never changes. It is also important that the women's loves not altered by the potion, which is very significantly dropped into the eyes, affecting vision - i.
Lack of reason, though embodied in all the lovers, are brought to life by Puck as the agent of madness and of confusion of sight, which is the entry-point for love in Shakespeare. Finally, class aspirations and their asinine nature by Bottom himself Love, Interrupted Out of all these, every character is given a positive light or an extra-human light, in the case of the fairies except Egeus, who is the reason for the night-time excursion and all the comedy. Hence, it is social mores that compel the wildness on love which is not allowed to express itself freely. When freed of this and allowed to resolve itself in a Bacchanalian night all was well again and order was restored to the world.
This reviewer has taken the liberty of assuming that this is the central theme of the play - which is also deliciously ironic since it is supposed to have been written for a wedding. What better time to mock the institution of marriage than at a wedding gala? So in a way the four themes - difficulties of true love, restrictions by propriety and customs, and the comical unreason that beset lovers, and class differences that put some desires fully into the category of fantasies - are all products of social mores that impose artificial restrictions on love and bring on all the things mocked in this play by Shakespeare.
In fact this is one reason why Bottom could be the real hero of the play as is the fashion among critical receptions of the play these days - he was the only one comfortable in transcending all these barriers, at home everywhere and in the end also content with his dreams and in the realization that he would be an ass to try to comprehend what is wrong with the world. It is quite telling that it was Bottom who accepted love and reason seldom go together and expresses the hope that love and reason should become friends.
Again the need for a bit of madness lunacy, mark the repeated moon ref. It is almost an appeal to the Dionysian aspects of life - see alternate review on Nietzsche for detail. In some sense, Puck, with his ability to translate himself into any character, with his skill in creating performances that seem all too real to their human audiences, could be seen as a mascot of the theater. Therefore, his final words are an apology for the play itself.
Also mark how Puck courteously addresses the audience as gentlefolk, paralleling Quince's address to his stage audience in his Prologue. Thus, the final extrapolation on the theme could be that Shakespeare ultimately points out that though a bit of madness and wildness is needed to bring love back into the realms of the truth, it can also be achieved through great art, through sublime theater - not by bad theater though! When the actor playing Puck stands alone on the stage talking to the audience about dreams and illusions, he is necessarily reminding them that there is another kind of magic - the magic of the theatre.
And the magic it conjures is the magic of self-discovery. Thus the spectators have not only watched the dream of others but have, by that focus of attention, entered the dream state themselves. That is why Shakespeare has made it easy for us and created an art-form of a play that allows us to dream-in-unreason and wake up refreshed. It might not give the transport and release and inward-looking that is necessary to achieve the madness that true art is supposed to confer. So Shakespeare uses the play to educate us on what is needed to find ourselves and then the play-within-the-play to also show us what to avoid.
At the moment when the play most clearly declares itself to be trivial, we have the strongest appeal to our sympathy for it. Here it parallels life and love, both beyond reason, limited only by the imagination. Of course, this is a very simplistic representation of a wonderfully complicated play. It can be read in many different ways based on the viewpoint you chose to adopt. I have tried out a few and felt the need to comment slightly at length on this viewpoint. Lord, what fools these mortals be , Puck philosophizes, mockingly.
And perhaps we are indeed fools - for entering into the dangerous, unpredictable world of love or of literature; yet what fun would life be without it? View all 33 comments. I like discussing Shakespeare in a classroom setting, and being motivated to mark up the text and otherwise process it fully.
I felt like I missed out on stuff here. I think this is one of the plays you really need to see performed, rather than read it. I recommend watching this I sure want to! View all 15 comments.
I've tried to just go where I please instead of being rigid. See my reviews if you care what I thought. I guess that's the best part. Not in , but in the rest of my days. Naturally this plan relied on some assumptions. Second, I assumed that reading one play every three months would be reasonable. There are 37 plays, hence a little over nine years. I would be What order to read the plays in? Best guess as to the order they were written?
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The order that they appear in my Complete Shakespeare? By sets of the types of Play? Wresting with this question occupied me until about August. I only got one play read. Okay, this is not huge. I now have 36 to go. An even nine years? Perhaps this is a very favorable , even unrealistic? My answer to 1, and the fact of 2, may be related. But in my experience a comedy is pretty much pure entertainment, like a musical. If it goes beyond entertainment, then it goes beyond comedy.
WoF contains analyses of seven of the plays, together with other essays. The Coleridge book discusses to varying degrees many of the plays. This book seems to be unheard of on GR. Plan of attack Read the introduction view spoiler [I noted the sources listed: Naturally the Faeries are found in folklore. There are also links to three earlier plays by Shakespeare: Theseus and the Amazonian queen Hippolyta are preparing to be wed.
A second Athenian lass, Helena, does love Demetrius, but is spurned by him. Puck is to sprinkle this on Titania and arrange that she will see something or someone ridiculous when she awakes view spoiler [Oberon will only allow the spell to be removed when she agrees to give him her boy hide spoiler ]. It is good fun. I chose to watch the film.
This movie features extensive use of Felix Mendelssohn's beautiful music which he wrote for the play — first the Overture, and then the incidental music. The film features the debut of Olivia de Haviland as Hermia; James Cagney as Bottom his only Shakespearean role, for which he got a lot of deserved praise ; and a thirteen year old Mickey Rooney as Puck. The wording and cadence of Shakespeare is fairly well preserved in the movie, though extensive editing chops out much of the text. I felt it was a good production, and I was certainly more entertained by the movie than by the play.
The ballet done in these scenes was gorgeous, and the way the fairies glided through the air was beautiful. The costuming of the female faeries, including that of Titantia, surprised me by its very suggestive, almost salacious, design. And Victor Jory as Oberon lent that role a dark creepiness which I found very appealing. All in all, these dreamlike scenes were for me the highlight of the movie. Theatrical release poster hide spoiler ] Read any commentaries on the play that I have view spoiler [The only small bit on this play was the following note in the Coleridge book, which is taken from marginalia he wrote at I.
I am convinced that Shakespeare availed himself of the title of the play in his own mind as a dream throughout, but especially and perhaps unpleasingly in this broad determination of ungrateful treachery in Helena, so undisguisedly avowed to herself, and this too after the witty cool philosophizing that precedes. The act is very natural; the resolve so to act is, I fear, likewise too true a picture of the lax hold that principles have on the female heart when opposed to, or even separated from, passion and inclination.
For women are less hypocrites to their own minds than men, because they feel less abhorrence of moral evil in itself and more for its outward consequences, as detection, loss of character, etc. Seeking or going out after external objects. Another sight gives the same definition and example. Is Coleridge the only person who ever used this word? Coleridge on Shakespeare Random review: Mile Failte a Goodreads amateur writing project Next review: The Life and Death of King John View all 55 comments.
Feb 16, Kelly and the Book Boar rated it it was amazing Shelves: Find all of my reviews at: Fucketh off with thee! Originally I read it back in the stone age as a high schooler who opted for additional l Find all of my reviews at: But I never loved it as much as I loved it last night when this happened. Haters can eat a bag of weiners. View all 29 comments. Feb 14, Kat Kennedy rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's still as awesome as I remember. Though, unfortunately, causes me some initial irritation with The Iron King. Robbie Goodfellow is a wicked spirit running around having fun and pulling ridiculous pranks.
He's not a serious teenage boy who is dramatic and suspenseful or mysterious or sexy. Why do we have to turn everything into sexy these days? Why does every male character have to suddenly fit the romantic male archetype? Why are mythological creatures becoming obsessed with teenage girls? View all 16 comments. When a couple tries to run away, they get followed by a man in love with them, and then by a woman in love with him. And a fairy fucking around makes it all go to shit.
Love all the lead characters, by the way. I have not actually seen this adaptation yet, but I am a huge fan of the casting of this production: View all 5 comments. Where does it come from? It is spoken by a character called Lysander, in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream , and articulates possibly the play's most important theme. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a fanciful tale, full of poetry and beautiful imagery, such as, "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with "The course of true love never did run smooth;" is a famous, often-quoted line - a truism throughout all ages and cultures.
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A Midsummer Night's Dream is a fanciful tale, full of poetry and beautiful imagery, such as, "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: Beetles black, approach not near; Worm nor snail, do no offence.
And as with all Shakespeare's plays, it is impossible to be sure of any dates or an exact order. Unusually, the main plot seems to have been entirely his own invention, although some characters are drawn from Greek mythologies. Theseus, for instance, the Duke whom we learn at the start of the play is to marry the Amazon queen Hippolyta, is based on the Greek hero of the same name.
Plus there are many references to Greek gods and goddesses in the play. The play is set in Athens, and there is a "play within a play" a theme to which Shakespeare returned time after time which is based on an epic poem by the Roman poet Ovid. The play also includes many English fairy characters such as "Puck" - or "Robin Goodfellow", to give him his alternative name.
Fairies had been very much respected and feared for time immemorial. People were in awe of their magical powers. They were believed to often be mischievous at the very least, if not positively malignant, and names such as "Goodfellow" were meant to appease or pacify them, so as not to incur their vengeance. The moon was a source of myth and mystery, to be wondered at and its influence possibly feared.
Oberon's, "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania" And Puck's, "Now it is the time of night, That the graves, all gaping wide, Every one lets forth his sprite, In the church-way paths to glide: Many such elements in Nature were viewed as supernatural; what we now term "pagan" was the norm, and although people were fascinated by the fairies and "little people", they also feared them. Puck's comment, "Lord, what fools these mortals be! The woodland at night would be both enchanting and thrilling to an Elizabethan audience - an unpredictable place of danger and possible bewitchment.
The fantastical atmosphere, and the magic of the surreal fairy sphere which Shakespeare conjures up, are important and unique elements of this play. The third component is the depiction of ordinary working trade and craftsmen in London of the time, and the theatrical conventions such as men playing the roles of women. The scenes where these foolish and absurd characters are involved provide much of the humour.
They often make laughing stocks of themselves via Shakespeare, for our entertainment, and although much of this play seems strange and whimsical to a modern audience, it is classed as one of his comedies. It is completely different from any other of the plays which Shakespeare had written up to that point, although some of the themes present themselves again in "Romeo and Juliet" , but given an entirely different emphasis and dramatic intent.
One such theme is the ownership of females by their father. The play opens with Egeus asking for Theseus's support, in insisting that Hermia Egeus's daughter should marry whom he chooses, "As she is mine, I may dispose of her: Which shall be either to this gentleman Or to her death, according to our law" The third choice, if his daughter refuses to do her father's bidding, is for her to live a life of chastity as a nun, worshipping the goddess Diana.
This was the prevailing ethos in Elizabethan times, and there is no question that a daughter was the legal property of her father. Additionally, a common justification for choosing a future husband for his daughter could be summed up in the idea that "love is blind". Egeus is not merely insisting on his rights as a father, but wants the best for his daughter, and according to the Elizabethan view, thinks that an arranged marriage is the best way of protecting her from any irrational romantic nonsense.
Hermia herself is refusing to submit to her father's demands, as she is in love with Lysander. This theme, of a young girl's rebellion against her father, is against all conventions of the time, and is taken up with a devastating conclusion in "Romeo and Juliet. Helena says, "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind: Perhaps one could speculate that this could have been the reason why he developed the idea further, to make a much more serious statement in his tragic play.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, however, is a much more frivolous and fanciful affair.
Not one love affair but three are intertwined throughout the play. Demetrius, whom Hermia has been commanded to wed, is in turn loved by Helena. So Hermia loves Lysander, and Lysander loves Hermia. Helena loves Demetrius - but Demetrius also loves Hermia rather than Helena. So one young woman has two suitors, the other none, but since four are involved the audience are hoping for a traditional "happy ending".
In the meantime, there are plenty of chances for misunderstandings. As the play proceeds we are invited to laugh at this hapless group, in their lovelorn afflictions, rather than feel any true sympathy, because the whole affair is portrayed in such a light-hearted way, as opposed to the tragic story of young love, "Romeo and Juliet" , which has probably not yet been completed. In that play there is tension throughout, and the sure knowledge, as the audience had been told in the prologue that there would be no happy outcome. Here we are free to poke fun at the young lovers' "torments", as we are fairly sure of everything ending happily.
Other characters who become involved in the confusion are "Titania", queen of the fairies, and "Oberon" king of the fairies. Shakespeare has taken the character of "Titania" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses" , and his "Oberon" may have been taken from the medieval romance "Huan of Bordeaux" , translated by Lord Berners in the mids. She is keeping the child as a page, but Oberon wants to train him as a knight. All the young lovers from Athens, plus the main fairy characters, are in the woodland for various reasons at the same time.
The woodland of course being also the realm of the fairies, much confusion is bound to follow. The audiences of the time will have greatly anticipated and appreciated this devilment, as "Robin Goodfellow"'s pranks and tricks will have been well known to them. To a modern audience, the events seem farcical, and the play does require quite a leap of faith to enjoy the fairytale whimsy of the woodland scenes. Nevertheless, the scenes of passion between the beautiful, graceful Titania and the clumsy Bottom, with a grotesque ass's head, are so incongruous that its humour is timeless and crosses any boundaries with ease.
There are other "opposites" which tickle our funnybones even after so many centuries. Helena is tall, a "painted maypole" , whereas Hermia is short, "though she be but little she is fierce," and both their scuffles and the enchanted lovers' declarations seem deliberately ridiculous in this context. They are overly earnest and serious - and followed immediately by joking, merry, clumsy workmen. All the fairies are ethereal, Titania being particularly beautiful; all the craftsmen earthy and clumsy, Bottom being particularly grotesque.
Puck plays pranks, whereas Bottom is an easy and natural victim. Puck uses his magic with ease, whereas the craftsmen's attempts to stage their play is laborious and ridiculous by contrast. The incompetent acting troupe's enactment of the "play within a play", "Pyramus and Thisbe" , is still humorous even now. Juxtaposing these extraordinary differences to exaggerate the contrast, meant that Shakespeare ensured laughs from his audience, while heightening the surreal fantastical elements.
The idea of dreams is perhaps the central pivot of the play. Events happen in a haphazard fashion, and time seems to lose its normal motion and progress. No one in the woodland scenes is ever in control of their environment - even Puck makes mistakes with his love potions. He gleefully revels in such mistakes, "Lord, what fools these mortals be! The audience is given no explanation for the fantastical woodland sphere, with its illusions and fragile grip on reality.
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Shakespeare is clearly manipulating our sense of understanding throughout, inducing a dream-like feeling to the action. The love potions are magical or supernatural symbols of the power of love itself, inducing the same symptoms that true romantic lovers exhibit in their natural state, of unreasoning, fickle and erratic behaviour. No one who has been given a love potion in the play is able to resist it, much as falling in love appears to others to be inexplicable and irrational.
Towards the end of the play we have a delightful rendering of the bumbling tradesmen's attempts to stage "Pyramus and Thisbe," which Shakespeare has taken from Ovid's epic poem "Metamorphoses". He also incidentally uses the plot again for "Romeo and Juliet" , which seems quite bizarre, given the way it is used as a ludicrous farce here. Theseus and Hippolyta are well aware that the enactment of this play may be farcical and clumsy.
They have been warned by Philostrate that the production is by "hard-handed men" , or as Puck calls them "rude mechanicals" and that their production is, "Merry and tragical! And Theseus will welcome the diversion of such fancies. His wise words earlier, about his world of the rational, "Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends" could refer both to the action which we have seen so far, and the workmen's play we are about to see.
The audience views this absurd little play through the eyes of Theseus and Hippolyta. The young Athenian lovers are also present, having been satisfactorily paired off, as we suspected they would be. Everyone is relaxing and poking fun at the hapless players, "This is the silliest stuff I ever heard" protests Hippolyta, but Bottom, the bumbling buffoon, breaks out of character every now and then, to earnestly assure his audience that all is as it is meant to be - they merely need to keep watching and they'll understand Shakespeare has written their performance as a delicious satire of the overly melodramatic earlier actions of the young lovers, and recognising this makes it even more hilarious to the audience.
The young Athenians' overpowering emotions are made to seem even more ridiculous by virtue of these clumsy actors and this provides a comic ending to the play. Since the Pyramus and Thisbe of the craftsmen's play were themselves facing parental disapproval, it encapsulates and echoes the whole play within which it is set. The final speech by Puck highlights the thematic idea of dreams. If the audience does not care for the play, he says, or if we have been offended by it, then he suggests it should be considered as nothing but a dream.
It is interesting that the fairies are all still present as the wedding are about to take place. Shakespeare's message is not entirely clear here; it is as if he is merging the fairies and their magic with Theseus and Hippolyta's rational world. Perhaps it is to convey that we will never be free of the irrationalities and unpredictabilities of romantic love; either that or that the fairy folk will always be around us to create havoc.
The workmen's play was mocked by Theseus and Hippolyta, perhaps the message is that human behaviour and ceremonies of the larger play, that is the real rational world, are unknowingly mocked by the fairy folk. A Midsummer Night's Dream is not one of Shakespeare's greatest masterpieces. Although it remains popular and is staged quite regularly, this may be down to imaginative staging and the exceptional production values we now have.
On the page it reads as an inconsequential play, all whimsy, candyfloss and fluff. It is both significant and noticeable, how Shakespeare revisited some of the themes here, in "Romeo and Juliet," but in that play he used them with such skill that he created an abiding and deeply tragic drama. In both plays we have the intoxicating and overwhelming influence of romantic love, the powerlessness of young women to rise up against their families and conventions, and the "potions" to influence a particular course of events; all those elements are here too, but combined to make a fantastical, frivolous, illusory bit of nonsense.
However there is much beautiful poetic imagery in this play, such as, "My soul is in the sky" "Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;" " Yes, A Midsummer Night's Dream does provide a few smiles even now. And if your taste runs to flights of fancy; if you like to read tales of fairies such as Peas-Blossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustard-Seed, using language and imagery such as, "Those be rubies, fairy favours, In those freckles live their savours: It fell upon a little western flower, Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound, And maidens call it love-in-idleness" if you are attracted by gauzy fragility and a sense of illusion, then you may enjoy the fantasy and whimsy of Shakespeare's play.
For as "The Bard" says, " View all 26 comments. Feb 16, Josh Caporale rated it liked it. This particular explanation, for its face value, is neutral in its tone and execution, for this play is so absurd, but it almost seems like it is trying to be as such. While Shakespeare has been known to borrow his plots, I would say that his tragedies are better than his comedies in the way that the elements to his tragedies are a bit more original or is it the fact that we have seen elements of his comedies time and time again. In a way, this was original, but I feel that the structure of who loves who and who everyone wants who to be with is something I am way too familiar.
Meanwhile, Theseus turns to a group of workers, including Nick Bottom, to provide the entertainment. Bottom wants to play all of the parts in this play that they are planning to put on. There is also a group of fairies that mirror the participants in this play and Puck, who plays a key role in the many alterations of what takes place in this play.
This is by no means my favorite Shakespeare play, but it is certainly unique! It is as organized as an episode of The Muppet Show and just as insane, but if that's what you like, then this is the play for you! You can find the Literary Gladiators discussion of this play containing spoilers here: View all 6 comments.
I love William Shakespeare more than life itself. It had a lot fantasy aspects to it and a interesting combination between a comedy and a drama.
A midsummer night's dream, second edition. Teacher's guide
It worked really well and made the whole play confusing in a good way, if that makes sense. Somethi "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind" I love this play so much. Something I noticed was how much easier I found it to follow the plot. The characters were so diverse and interesting, which made the plot so much more funny and interesting. The characters and the relationship between the them is so ridiculous at times that it was difficult not to laugh out loud. This is one of my new favorites. Se ha enamorado de… de… un cabeza de asno, literalmente.
Dec 16, Geoff rated it it was amazing. The unconscious, the sleep-world, the dream-world. And what else sends a plague of fantasies across our minds?
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