All of Shakespeare by the 450th: Dreamy or Just Drowsy?
The quick answer: Drowsy. I just about slept through my reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I like a good dream, but after this one I woke up in a bad mood. My last exposure to A Midsummer Night’s Dream was in a local high school, and I think that’s where I’ll leave it. Let me admit that fairies are not my favorite characters. Considering its continued popularity, I’m clearly out of the mainstream. (Maybe I’m just getting tired of the comedies.)
Words that come to mind after reading the play: I guess it was about love, but it seemed more about antiquated laws that subjugated women to their fathers’ and the state’s will. A little manipulation to get a love or some other object was thrown in for good measure. From my personal experience, I’m not sure laws, father or husband could convince my wife and daughters to do anything they felt wasn’t right, so maybe you had to be there (England in the 1590s) to feel the drama and reality. Of course, manipulation is still with us, so maybe that keeps the play current; but manipulation never was the way to create a long-term, loving relationship.
Quotes that appealed to me for various reasons (and a brief thought on a few of them):
Helena: Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind….
Titania: These are the forgeries of jealousy: and never, since the middle summer’s spring, met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead, by paved fountain, or by rushy brook, or in the beached margent of the sea, to dance our ringlets to the whistling wind, but with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport. Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, as in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea contagious fogs; which, falling in the land, hath every pelting river made so proud that they have overborne their continents: the ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain, the ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard: the fold stands empty in the drowned field, and crows are fatted with the murrain flock; the nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud, and the quaint mazes in the wanton green, for lack of tread, are undistinguishable. The human mortals want their winter here; no night is now with hymn or carol blest:–therefore the moon, the governess of floods, pale in her anger, washes all the air, that rheumatic diseases do abound: and thorough this distemperature we see the seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose; and on old Hyems’ chin and icy crown an odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter, change their wonted liveries; and the mazed world, by their increase, now knows not which is which: and this same progeny of evils comes from our debate, from our dissension; we are their parents and original. (This appears to be the true explanation of global warming: So it’s not caused by humans after all.)
Puck: Their sense, thus weak, lost with their fears, thus strong, made senseless things begin to do them wrong: for briers and thorns at their apparel snatch; some sleeves, some hats; from yielders all things catch. (The impact of fear in our lives.)
Puck: What fools these mortals be! (No comment required.)
Demetrius: Disparage not the faith thou dost not know.
Helena: So we grew together, like to a double cherry, seeming parted; but yet a union in partition, two lovely berries moulded on one stem: so, with two seeming bodies, but one heart, two of the first, like coats in hearldry, due but to one, and crowned with one crest. (Wonderful description of what unity of soul in love is.)
Lysander: Although I hate her I’ll not harm her so. Hermia: What! can you do me greater harm than hate? (A great question)
Theseus: Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact….
Next Up: Love’s Labour’s Lost