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A Midsummer Night's Dream Introduction
Transcript of A Midsummer Night's Dream Introduction
Watch and see if you can figure it out
Jot Down Your Ideas
Based on the "preview" that you saw, what do you think the play will be about? Based on the name, what kind of plot elements can we guess about?
Predict FIVE different things about they story.
Broken down by: storylines, setting, and characters
Histories: Serious plays dramatizing the destructive results of weak or corrupt rulers.
The rulers featured are real rulers, yet of the events of the plays are not completely factual.
Comedies: Light-hearted, involving mistaken identities and ending with goodwill, forgiveness and marriages.
Tragedies: Dark in tone, involving betrayals, plots to overthrow rulers, and ending with many characters murdered or falling upon ill-fortunes.
Tragicomedies: Plays that are dark in tone, but end with reconciliation than death and destruction.
Characteristics of Shakespeare’s Plays
Among his plays, Shakespeare wrote:
Histories: Richard II, Julius Caesar, Henry VI (parts 1, 2 and 3) and Henry V
Comedies: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing,
As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Tragedies: Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth.
Tragicomedies: Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest.
Shakespeare died in 1616.
Over a century after his death, scholars began to dispute whether Shakespeare was really
the author of many of his plays, insisting that Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon may be the true authors. Most of this conjecture stems from details of his low birth and his lack of education.
Shakespeare is known for writing dozens of plays and sonnets.
He filled his work with elaborate metaphors,
double entendres and rhetorical phrases.
With only small degrees of variation, Shakespeare primarily used a metrical pattern consisting of lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, or blank verse, to compose his plays. (We will come back to verse when we study poetry later this year)
Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon (Southern England)
He married and had one set of twin children. Although, he is rumored
to have had many male significant others during his life time as well.
He became a playwright in London, though considered lower in rank because of his lack of education and nobility.
Estimated 1554 - 1616
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
burnt down and was rebuilt, but closed in 1692. A replica was built and is still standing
on the south banks on the River Thames in London. Its plays were attended by royalty and the poor alike.
Shakespeare and his business partners built
the Globe theater in London in 1599, which has
1. THE ATHENIANS:
• Theseus and his bride, Hippolyta (Theseus represents law and order.)
• The four lovers: Hermia, Helena, Demetrius,
Lysander (They represent adolescent rebellion.)
• Egeus (Hermia’s father)
THE THREE WORLDS of
2. THE ACTORS:
• Bottom (the rather vain “leader” of the group
who wishes to play all the parts
• Other members of the cast: Quince, Flute, Starveling, Snout, Snug, Philostrate
Bottom and Titania
Puck and Oberon
Their realm is the woods where they interact with
the humans who wander there. This setting is outside the walls of Athens and so disorder prevails.
• Titania (Queen)
• Oberon (King)
• Puck (a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow) – Oberon’s loyal helper
Other topics (besides “love”):
Reality versus illusion
In act One, Lysander laments: “The course of true love never did run smooth” (1.1.134).
The play deals with the trials of those “in love” both in the world of
the Athenians and the world of the fairies.
Because the play is a romantic comedy, the audience can enjoy the conflicts, mix ups, and misunderstandings without ever doubting that all will turn out well.
Some of the contrasts in the play:
Reality vs. Illusion (Dreams)
Athens vs. the forest
Day vs. Night
Order vs. Confusion
Aristocrats vs. Workmen
Tall vs. Short
True love vs. False love
Lyrical language vs. Rough prose