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A Midsummer Night's Dream Assignment

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Roshica Ponnampalam

on 31 May 2013

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Transcript of A Midsummer Night's Dream Assignment

A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare 'The course of love never did run smooth' William Shakespeare is a man regarded as one of the best poets and playwrights the world has ever seen. He was born in 1564 in a small town called Stratford-upon-Avon and later died in 1616 at the age of 52. Shakespeare worked and lived in London for most of his professional life and wrote a wide variety of plays including tragedies, comedies and romances. Some of his greatest achievements in writing were Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, the Tempest and Hamlet. One of his plays, categorized as a comedy that is still well known to this day is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare is believed to have written this play around the same time he wrote Romeo and Juliet, in the 1590s. The exact time that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed is not known but there is a myth that it was first performed in front of a private audience once an actual wedding had taken place. It depicts the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus (the Duke of Athens) and Hippolyta and includes the adventures of four young lovers. These stories are woven together with the tale of six actors and a bunch of mischievous fairies who live in the woods near Athens and decide to cause trouble for everyone. The result of this is a dream-like play that is one of Shakespeare’s most popular pieces to this day. Unrequited Love Unrequited love is one-sided love. It is when a person deeply loves another, but the feeling is not returned causing feelings of hurt and desperation. The key characters that explore this aspect of love are Helena, Demetrius and Hermia. An event that explores unrequited love is when Demetrius is looking for Hermia and Lysander in the woods. Helena follows him and relentlessly speaks of her love for Demetrius. All through their heated conversation, Demetrius keeps trying to get Helena to leave him alone and understand that he doesn’t love her. ‘Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair? Or rather do I not in plainest truth, tell you I do not, nor I cannot love you?’ When Demetrius says this quote, he is asking Helena whether he charms her, gives her compliments or if instead he is honest in saying that he doesn’t and can’t love her. This is an example of unrequited love because it shows Helena’s desperate love for Demetrius but Demetrius not returning her love.

Another event that explores unrequited love is when Puck puts the juice from the flower struck by cupid’s arrow on Lysander causing him to fall in love with Helena and forget his love for Hermia. This hurts Hermia a lot since in the course of one night, Lysander goes from doting on her to repeatedly telling her that he hates her and loves Helena, ‘Be certain, nothing truer.’Tis no jest that I do hate thee and love Helena.’ Lysander says this because Helena doesn’t get why he suddenly has a change of heart and she wants to believe that he is just confused. By saying this quote, Lysander is trying to hit some sense into Hermia by stating his love for her best friend through harsh words. This quote relates to unrequited love because it shows Hermia loving Lysander but him not loving her back and the pain and hurt that this causes Hermia.

Through these events, Shakespeare seems to be saying that unrequited love is unfortunate and heartbreaking. He shows us the pain and desperation that Helena goes through in her perusal of Demetrius’ attention and the confusion and betrayal that Hermia feels when Lysander falls in love with Helena. Unrequited love may not affect the one being loved much, but Shakespeare effectively captures the hurt and influence it has on the feelings of the lover. The Love of Mischief The love of mischief is the love of playing jokes on people and stirring trouble. The key characters that explore this aspect of love are Puck and Oberon. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the love of mischief is shown when Oberon asks Puck to put the juice from the ‘love-in-idleness’ flower on the eyelids of Titania and also Demetrius after overhearing an argument between him and Helena. He does this so that their roles as eluder and lover would be reversed, ‘Fare thee well nymph. Ere he do leave this grove, thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.’ In this quote Oberon is saying fare well to Helena and telling her that before they leave the woods, she would be fleeing Demetrius and he would be seeking her love. This explores ideas related to the love of devilment because it shows that Oberon intentionally wants to create trouble for the humans by meddling in their affairs. It also shows that the love of mischief can often lead to not thinking before acting as Oberon does here.

Another event that explores the love of mischief is when a fairy following the orders of Titania asks whether Puck is Robin Goodfellow and states some of the cunning tricks that he has played. Puck tells the fairy that he is indeed Robin Goodfellow and retaliated by saying some of the more amusing tricks that he has played like when he sometimes lurks in a gossipy woman’s drink disguised as a crab apple. When she raises the glass to take a drink, he bobs against her lips making her spill her drink on her withered old neck; ‘And sometimes lurk I in a gossip’s bowl, in very likeness of roasted crab, and when she drinks, against her lips I bob, and on her withered dewlap pour the ale.’ This explores ideas related to love of mischief because in this quote Puck is talking about a prank that he plays. This is an example of this aspect of love because it shows Puck’s love for stirring trouble.

Shakespeare seems to be telling us that the love of mischief can have its advantages and disadvantages. By asking Puck to put the love spell on Titania, Oberon ends up with Titania liking him again. The plan also goes wrong though; by accidentally putting the spell on Lysander as well as Demetrius, Lysander and Hermia’s love is torn apart but luckily mended. This shows that mischievousness in small doses can sometimes be helpful but when it goes too far, it can end in all sorts of trouble. Jealousy Jealousy refers to the feeling of unease that a person gets when they are fearful of losing something such as the one they love. This term can also be used when a person is envious of what someone else has. The key characters that explore this aspect of love are Helena, Oberon and Titania. An event that explores jealousy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is when Helena is telling Hermia that she wishes she could be transformed into Hermia. She asks her to teach her how to look like her so she could win the heart of Demetrius, ‘The rest I’d give to be you translated. O, teach me how you look, and with what art you sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.’ Helena says this because she wishes she was more like Hermia in looks and personality, so that Demetrius would love her instead of Hermia. This is a clear example of jealousy in the way Helena desperately wishes she was more like Hermia to win Demetrius’ affection.

Another event that explores jealousy is when Oberon and Titania are arguing in the woods. During this argument, Titania states that she knows of Oberon’s love for Hippolyta and Oberon says he is also aware of Titania’s love to Theseus. Titania then starts saying that these are the lies that jealousy cause and that they have never met on hills, in valleys, in forests or in meadows since the beginning of Spring; ‘These are the forgeries of jealousy. And never sine the middle Summer’s spring, met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead.’ She then continues to state all the problems that have arisen since they started quarelling with each other. The reason that Titania says this quote is because she is trying to tell Oberon that nothing good has come out of their jealousy towards each other like all the crows getting diseases. Although they are married, they never see each other and now lots of things have been going wrong. This examines ideas associated to jealousy because it demonstrates that jealousy can cause lots of trouble because of the hate it evokes between people.

I think that Shakespeare is trying to say that jealousy is a very disadvantageous aspect of love. It can lead to hurt, anger and most of all hate. Through these events, Shakespeare affectively shows that jealousy can often stand in the way of love and friendship, preventing them from taking their natural course. Roshica Ponnampalam 'The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometimes for three-foot stool mistaketh me,
Then I slip from her bum, down topples she And maidens call it, "love-in-idleness."
Fetch me that flower. The herb I showed thee once,
The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
upon the next live creature that it sees. And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies. And even for that do I love you the more.
I am you spaniel, and Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you. Thy love! Out tawny Tartar, out!
Out loathed medicine! O hated potion, hence! I love thee not, therefore pursue me not. None, but your beauty. Would that fault were mine! How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know the love to Theseus? Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs. Which, falling in the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents. Bibliography The Global Shakespeare Series, 1998, A Midsummer Night's Dream with Related Readings, International Thompson Publishing
Author unknown, No Fear Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream [online] Available: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/msnd/page_38.html [24th-30th of May 2013]
Author unknown, A Shakespeare Biography Quiz [online] Available: http://shakespeare.palomar.edu/quiz/bioquiz.htm [date visited unknown]
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