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

27 comments:

Tori "flash" said...

In my mind, I believe Bottom's speech to teh audience to be the most significant and true. Shakespear purposfully used Bottom to explain the relationship between dreaming and reality and the foolish men to attempt to explain or decode their dreams because he is the least likely to make deep connections such as this. Shakespear has survived because he doesn't take himself too seriously and is able to get a deep message across without sounding too overpowering. I wouldnt believe Bottom if he told me what happened in the woods, but he came up with an idea in which he could get his message across without sounding foolish. In the play Bottoms says, "Men are but an ass if they try to explain their dreams." I find the message he is trying to get across not only believeable but true. Shakespear was able to take the least likely character, and turn him for a brief moment, to a deep thinker that arose thought in all who watched.

Olivia said...

I think that Theseus's explanation of the strange situation between the four lovers to Hippolyta was the most significant. He explains that he dosent believe the silly stories that the four Athenians are telling. He points out the similarities between poets,lunatics,and lovers. They all see things that other dont and the all create things out of nothing. The lover sees ugly in beauty, the lunatic sees evil in every day life, and the poet forms unknown ideas and brings joy to everything."The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact."(Act 5, Scene 1, Line 7)I agree with Theseus's explanation the most. He creates these similarities between the three groups of people. This makes the most sense to me. Shakespear used Thesus's speech to create an explanation for what was going on in the woods. He gave the reader an idea that what the lovers say was fake or something they thought happend.

-Per 4

Lindsay said...

In my point of view, I feel that Theseus’s explanation of the lovers’ story has the most depth and is the most meaningful explanation of them all. In the beginning of Act 5, Theseus explains his feelings about the lovers’ story to Hippolyta. Theseus tries to make sense of it all by comparing different peoples’ actions with their feelings. When Theseus says, “The Lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact.” (Act 5, Scene 1, pg 71, lines 7-8), he rationalizes that although three of these kinds of people being categorized are different in many ways, they still all share very similar qualities, and sometimes their actions can have the same results. Theseus explains that the lunatic easily recognizes hatred, the lover sees beauty from the inside, and the poet can make connections between anything, while he can also write down things that are invisible; things that are not there. As we discussed his explanation today, I noticed that there are many things that are similar between these three kinds of people. For example, we wrote that the lunatic’s thoughts and sights are distorted, so he sees things that are sometimes not there. For the lover, we wrote that he/she sees what isn’t there, and also looks beyond the outside. And finally for the poet, we wrote that although he/she can make connections, he/she can make connections to things that do not exist. Theseus does, indeed, provide an understandable statement to analyze what happened in the woods. I think he means to say that everyone has things that they need, love, and care for. Sometimes this want for a certain thing can lead to someone’s actions resulting as a negative situation; for example, the lovers’ confutation in the woods ended up as a negative situation that only the fairies seemed to be able to resolve. I think that the feelings of another can definitely reflect on another person’s thoughts and actions.

-Lindsay, Period 1

katharine said...

I believe that Bottom's speech was the most significant. Shakespeare uses Bottom as a way to explain dreams from reality. Shakespeare is someone who never took himself too seriously, but he makes Bottom out to be a character who takes himself so seriously. Bottom is very into acting, and he thinks he's the best actor. He says that after the play at the Duke's wedding, since no one will believe his dream, he will write a song on it. Bottom wants to write a song about his dream to make it look like he doesn't really mean it. Bottom doesn't want to tell people because he doesn't think they'll believe him, and then mock him. Finally Bottom says something that took me by surprise. He realized that dreams aren't reality. Bottom says "Men is but an ass if they explain their dreams." After Bottom said that he realized that even if no one believed his dream, he would still know it was true.

ted said...

The most significant reaction/explanation out of the three reactions/explanations I would have to say is when at the beginning of Act V when Duke Theseus explains to Hippolyta what he thinks of the situation in the woods. I believe it is the most significant because what he is saying is that the world's people are from one of the three groups which are the crazy people (madmen), the lovers ,and the poets. The three groups are compared to each other and show how that all can become one. Theseus even says, "The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact."(Act 5, Scene 1, Line 7).Theseus says that the crazy people see devils, the bad in things, and things that are not even there. He says, “One sees more devils than vast hell can hold; that is the madman.” (Act V, sc. I, lines 9-10). They're also paranoid. As the lovers are frantic, over-reacting people who always see the beauty in everything. Theseus says, “The lover, all as frantic, sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.” (Act V, sc. 1, lines 10-11). Lastly, Theseus says that the poets see things that they don't even know about and try to explain those things to other people. He explains, “The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown…” (Act V, sc. 1, lines 12- 15). What he is trying to say is that they all see things that are not present or accurate which means that you cannot trust anyone. I can see how people today can fit into these three groups and I think this makes the most sense in this story to explain what is occurring in the woods. This shows how the four Athenian lovers act.

Dominique said...

I think I would agree with Bottom's explanation of what happened to him and all the lovers the most. It really can't be explained to anyone, it's just too strange. The whole story seems like it could have actually been a dream, if it didn't happen, because it's so bizarre. Bottom says " the eye of man hath not heard, ...nor his heart to report what my dream was." I think this means that there is no way for people to understand what happened, even if you tried to explain it to them. And therefore, Bottom rationalizes what happened to him as a dream. He doesn't really even understand it. I don't agree with Theseus's explanation, because I don't think all those people would make it up, or imagine the same thing happening to all of them. I don't understand what Puck is trying to say at the end of Act 5. I think he is also saying it is a dream?

Jenn with Two N's said...

I agree with Duke Theseus because the way he explains it made sense to me and he had every right to feel the way he did. He said "lovers and madmen have such seething brains such shapin fantasies that aprehend" and he is right the fairs do have the violently brains . THesus explain in serious thought his feeling on the situation to Hippolyta and I agree with the way he feels as well. THe lovers and the poets seem to me be both very wild and Thesus sees that so he explains yhow they both are "frenzy" . But in my opinion THesus seems to be just getting annoyed overall with the dream and dosent really want to deal with any of the situation anymore.

Morgan said...

Theseus had the most significant explanation about the lovers’ story. In the beginning of Act V, Theseus explains his feelings about the lovers’ story to Hippolyta. He starts to compare and describe different types of people and how they act. He talks and compares the Lunatic, the lover, and the poet. Theseus says, “The Lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact.” During his explanation he says that he doesn’t believe any of the legends or fairy tales. He says that lovers and madmen hallucinate about things that sane people just can’t understand. Theseus says that lunatics, lovers, and poets all are ruled by their imaginations. He explains that the lunatics are like people who see devils and monsters everywhere, and lovers are just as crazy. Except the lovers think a dark-skinned gypsy is the most gorgeous women in the world. Also, he says that the poets are the people who always are looking around like they’re having a fit, and they describe things that simply don’t exist. The last thing that Theseus says in his explanation is that all of these people have such strong imaginations that, when they feel happy, they think something else is bringing happiness to them, like a god or something like that. If they are scared at night, he says that they look at the bushes and imagine it’s a wild bear. Theseus realizes that although three of these kinds of people being are different, they still have some similar characteristics and qualities, and sometimes their behavior can have the same outcome. I think that Theseus definitely gave the best explanation to explain what was going on in the woods. He does a good job describing the way people act, and I can even relate it to the way people act everyday.
Period 1

Dana said...

I believe the explanation of Bottom. When Bottom awakens from his “dream”, he tries to explain what happened to him, but it is too hard. That is why I agree with his explanation. What happened in the woods is just too hard for anyone to explain. Bottom says, “Methought I was- there is no man can tell me what. Methought I had- but man is but a patch’d food, if he will offer to say what methought I had.” (Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 206-208) He is saying here that is too impossible for anyone to explain what happened to him or anyone in the woods. I agree. What happened to Bottom, when he had the head of the ass and the fairy queens love, would and could never happen. It doesn’t make any sense. The only explanation is that there must have been some sort of fairy spell, and the only people who know that that happened are Oberon, Puck, and the audience. For everyone else, what happened in the woods would be too hard to try to explain.

Michelle said...

In my opinion I think Theseus’ explanation was closest to how I would explain the situation in the woods. In his explanation he compares the lunatic, the lover, and the poet. Theseus compares how these people think to how the people feel. The lunatic “sees more devils than vast hell can hold” (act 5, scene 1, line 9). This is like how the lover sees beauty in a person that someone else might not see beauty and the poet can describe things that are invisible. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet all see things that aren’t there. Theseus’ statement shows how very different people can be compared. I think Theseus wanted to show how people see things differently, but they are still alike. Therefore, Theseus’ statement shows people feeling different about something.

Michelle
Period 1

natschja said...

I think the most significant explanation came from Bottom. Bottom sees what happened in the woods as something that can’t be explained, a dream that was rather unusual and worth remembering. He says, “I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass, if he go about t’ expound this dream. (Act IV, sc. ii, lines 204-206.)” Bottom doesn’t know what this dream means, and he won’t go explaining it. However, he still realizes the significance of this dream that he decides to let Quince write a ballad about it. What happened in the woods sounds unbelievable, but it still has some significance. So, I think that Bottom’s explanation is how I would explain what happened in the woods. He says it was a dream, but the reader can tell that it would’ve been a pretty good dream.

Anonymous said...

i believe that thease explanation of what happen in the woods is one that best explain how the four acted in the woods. he says he dose not belive in legends or farry tails. thease compares poets, lover, and luntices that they all make up thing that do not exists. people in love invent storys, poats invint storys, and lunitics are craze and make up storys.thease says this storys are so far out that he would not belive them. sometimes our imaginsion would play tricks on us.
giuseppe period 4

Zachary F. said...

In my opinion, what Theseus had said in Act five would be the best explanation of what happened in the woods between the lovers and the fairies. If I were to listen to such an unbelievable story about fairies, I would agree with Theseus all the way because such things do not exist. It was all in their imagination, as Theseus had said, “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact” (Act V, Scene I, lines 7-8). Each of those type of people have a wide range of though, and tend to picture things that are truly not there.

Zachary F.
Period 6

Matt T. said...

Midsummer Post # 6

Out of these three reactions/explanations I think that Nick Bottom’s way would be the closest to how I would describe this mess. The way he describes it really fits the type of situation. I liked how he said one would sound of an ass if he ever spoke of this dream. That means to me that it was a very confusing time, and it really was. Nick uses great description as metaphors too. He says things like how the hand does not smell and the ear does not see. That also explains how it was really hard to believe what had happened. Knowing how Nick felt related to what I felt too. After what happened I was confused as Bottom, so to speak and that’s why I chose what he said at the end of Act IV, scene 1.

matt schell said...

Out of these three Bottom's speech is the most signifcant and effective in explaining what has happened in the woods. He is the most believable and properly spolen. His quote "Men are but an ass if they try to explain their dreams." and "The eye of man hath not heard, ...nor his heart to report what my dream was." Both of these explain to the audience how amazing and rediculus the events that happened in the woods were. I believe his message has a deeper importance than telling what happened in the woods. It seems as though he is trying to answer the mystery of love. The many love catastrophies and hurdles have been summed up in bottom's words. It is impossible to describe the power or motive of love.

Will J said...

I think that Nick Bottom's version is the most significant. When he says "Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.", he's saying we can't really explain our dreams, and would be foolish to try. He's saying we should let dreams be dreams. When he says "but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had.", he means dreams are not real and should be set aside. He thought that he dreamed that he had an asses head when he actually did, but he just dismissed it.

Alyssa said...

i think that Nick Bottoms was the most significant to explain, because his was the most wierdest one out of the three. the one that was most like a dream and hard to explain or ever understand. i think that bottom couldent even explain it nor understand what he was dreaming either. its pretty hard to actually explain what happened in the woods because it seems so unreal to him.

Anonymous said...

I think the most reliable explanation comes from Bottom.Bottoms explanation seems to be the most realistic. Bottom remembers he had a dream , a strage, rare dream that hes never had on like before. The dream makes him wonder if it really happend, could possibly happen, or if it was just a dream.But to bottom it all seems so real like he could almost feel it. Bottom says,I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass, if he go about t’ expound this dream. (Act IV, sc. ii, lines 204-206.)” When bottom said that he means that if one were to have this dream and then wakeup and not care to think about it ,question it or try to remember it in anyway then there a fool.To bottom this dream is worth remembering and worth digging into to try to find out more about it.

-Liz P.

Anonymous said...

believe that Nick Bottoms speech is the most believable out of the three. When he awakes he tries to explain his dream and realizes how his dream is so out they’re that it’s hard to explain. He says that "man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream" he saying that for someone to believe this dream they would have to be foolish because its so crazy. In a way what he says explains the whole mess that has happened and how it is so unbelievable.

period 1
Danielle

bekah said...

I think that Puck's reaction to what happened in the woods was the most significant (he's the one I believe the most). Puck points out that if the audience dislikes the play, just tell yourself that the whole thing was just a dream, "That you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream..." (Act V, sc. 1, lines 412-415) So Puck pretty much just says, "Hey don't get mad at us if you don't like the play, tell yourself it never really happened." So in the end, if you don't understand what really happened, you probably don't like the play, so his explanation tells you to pretty much decide that it never actually occurred; forget you read it! In my case, that can't apply because if I pretend I never read the book, well I'd probably fail my test; for the general audience I think that his explanation is very practical and speaks to Shakespeare's audience quite clearly.
Period 6
Bekah

George D. said...

I definitely think that Nick Bottom's speech was the most effective and believable out of the three choices. He states that "Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream." In reality, this means that we truly cannot explain or give reason for the actions that happen in our dreams. Yet, in the more literal sense, it is regarding the lover's in the wood. We can also not explain or account for their mysterious dreams and the events that took place within these. Yet, I feel this quote carries to a further, deeper level on the whole towards man himself. He is saying that there is no true human explanation for dreams or what happens while you're dreaming. It is simply an unreachable feat for a human to recognize the meaning of a dream.

will b. said...

I feel that Nick Bottom's vision of the dream was the most significant. Everything that he said had stood out to me, and was in my opinon one of the most memorable passages from the play. He basically is saying that no man can say exactly how a dream is, and that "man is but an ass, if he go about t' expound this dream." He basically means that anybody would sound stupid trying to say the dream. Also, I think Bottom is basically say dreams should just be left as dreams, and we shouldn't have to worry about trying to say what they are, and that there isn't any real way to express what the dream was. Bottom however seems to try expressing it through a ballet that he calls "Bottom's Dream."

Jess W. said...

Nick Bottom expounds upon his dream with the statement that "man is but an ass," and in saying so, he makes his more believable and truer so because he is the only one to not run around telling everyone. Keeping it a secret is precisely what makes it the most believable. Theseus is stuck with his own suggestion, but he really has no idea what happened, and Puck is everthe unpredictable and sly character, and says things without meaning them, in a very cryptic way. Being that Bottom is the least philosophical of these three, it seems most fitting because he is also the least likely to have gone through or made this sort of thing up.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Bottom. What happened in the woods is so unbelievable, unexplainable. Liteerally. If you heard a story such s A Midsummer Night's Dream, u wouldn't believe a "fairy queen" falling in love with an "ass" literally an ass. and having little fairies cater to him. And the lover's story couldn't sound believable neither. Their dreams couldn't all be the same. It was a rare vision. I'm sure nothing like tht could happen again or has happened in the past, it was rare. it was a vision. like a dream. Bottom says "i have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what a dream it was." and he's right for calling it a dream, after waking up you would think everything, something like that, that you have been through had to have been a dream, and you couldn't describe it. You could, but would it really make any sense?
(Nicole T.
P.1)

matt r - period #1 said...

I believe that Bottom’s description is the most significant explanation of what actually happened in the magic forest. According to Bottom, “I have had a dream, past that wit of man to say what dream it was (IV. ii. 204-205).” By this, Bottom essentially means that it would be absolutely impossible to fathom the true meaning and purpose of this vision. In fact, Bottom refers to any person who tries to interpret this dream as an “ass.” Instead of explaining it in a literal sense, Bottom says that he will have Quince write him a song about the so-called dream. In comparison to Theseus’s skeptical view upon the story and Puck’s biased outlook on the occurrences, I believe that Bottom’s account of what happened was the most noteworthy overall.

matt r - period #1

said...

i think that Bottom's explanation, of the situation between the four lovers was the most significant. He explains the differences between dreaming and reality, (like his dream). Bottom tries his hardest to make his message sound believable, but is still a little sketchy on what he is trying to get across. So he says, "Men are but an ass if they try to explain their dreams." I think that bottom's statement is very true but only for a short while will people think that bottom's statement is believable.

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