23 April 2007

Midsummer Post #6: "This weak and idle theme..."

This is the 6th and final Midsummer post and is due before class starts on Thursday, April 26.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare presents us with an unusual and fantastic series of events as fairies and mortals mix in the mysterious woods just outside Athens. The four lovers and the mechanicals each undergo their own experience with the fairy world. However, different characters provide varying takes on the night's strange happenings. Consider the following three reactions/explanations by different characters:

  • Nick Bottom awakes from his dream, his "most rare vision," and offers one explanation at the end of Act IV, scene 1.

  • At the beginning Act V, Duke Theseus explains to Hippolyta what he thinks of the situation in the woods.

  • And finally, Puck re-appears with his own suggestion for the audience in the closing lines of Act V.

Of the three reactions/explanations, choose one that you believe the most significant or closest to how you might try to explain what happened in the woods. Whom do you believe the most? Bottom, Theseus, or Puck? Why? Point to specific lines from the play to help make your point.

photo credit: Midsummer Night's Dream by taichi UK on flickr

15 April 2007

Midsummer Post #5: 'Lord what fools these mortals be!'

This is the fifth Midsummer post and is due before class starts on Thursday, April 19.

In the middle of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the four Athenian lovers have found themselves all mixed up due to the love spell two of them are under. As a result, they bicker, beg, fight, plead for love, and do many seemingly "crazy" things all in the name of their love. During it all, Oberon and Puck watch the mayhem their love spell has created. Puck tells Oberon, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" He's referring to the lovers, of course, but Shakespeare also seems to be making a point that humans in general are capable of doing and saying some crazy things because of love. The lovers don't notice it, but for any outside observer - like the fairies who take on the role of an audience in this scene - the foolishness is readily apparent.

So far in the play, what do you think has been the most "foolish" thing one of the lovers has said or done? Now think about people you know in your life: is the Midsummer lover's "foolish" action realistic for someone under the spell of love? How is the lover's action like or not like people you know? What does Shakespeare seem to be saying about the power of love?