- 0.1 What is the moral of MSND?
- 0.2 What is the mood of MSND?
- 0.3 How did Shakespeare’s audience react to his plays?
- 0.4 Who is the antagonist in MSND?
- 1 What is the theme of love in MSND?
- 2 What is the theme of reality versus dreams in the play MSND?
- 2.1 What happens in Act 4 of MSND?
- 2.2 Why did people enjoy Shakespeare’s plays?
- 2.3 What did the audience of Shakespeare experience on a typical day at the Theatre?
- 3 How did people at the time of Shakespeare think about plays and theater?
- 4 How does Midsummer Night’s dream make you feel?
- 5 Who suggests that the audience consider whether the play has been a dream?
How did the audience react to A Midsummer night’s dream?
Some members of the Shakespearean audience didn’t go out to enjoy the theatre, they only wished to show of their wealth and riches through what they were wearing. Audience members would have paid great attention to the theatre as it touched on a wide range of themes: the rich, the poor and sexual intensity.
What is the moral of MSND?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a humorous play by William Shakespeare. It is written in old English so it is not a real easy reading. William Shakespeare’s main purpose in writing this play is to show that love makes you do strange things. Also he is showing us that love is not smooth.
- A really good quote in the play is when Lysander says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” This statement makes a lot of sense later on in the book.
- Shakespeare is also showing us that when you love someone you do not pay attention to their faults, but when you do not love someone it is easier to pick out their faults.
Also Shakespeare is making fun of actors back in his time. Shakespeare thought that other plays were really pitiful. In this play there are these people making a play. One of the men had to be a girl. Another guy was a wall. They also say words that they don’t know the meaning of and they make a lot of mistakes.
- In the end the spectators liked it.
- This play mostly takes place in the woods.
- The reason he did this is because there are fairies in the woods and magic.
- In the woods many mysterious things can happen.
- This makes it so that things that can’t happen in real life can happen in this play.
- A fairy named Puck really messes with Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena.
Puck changes who they like. This causes them to fight. The fairies try to help the mortals. All the do is make things worse though. One lesson that I have learned in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is that if you love someone it should not be because of their appearance but because of their personality.
- If you do not do this you will have a lot of fights.
- Just because someone looks good on the outside does not mean they act good on the inside.
- In A Midsummer Night’s Dream people cared about what they looked liked.
- They also cared about what someone else looked like.
- Another lesson I have learned is that you should be content with what you look like.
Helena was mad because she thought that Demetrius did not like her because she wasn’t as good looking as Hermia. In reality she did look pretty. Everyone feels like they have faults with there body. Realistically, the reason this is so is because no one is perfect.
- Another lesson I have learned is that when you love someone you will not notice the fault of that person but you will notice the positive traits of that person.
- Lysander used to love Hermia but when Puck made him love Helena he noticed that Hermia was short and he made fun of her.
- When you love someone check your motives because people change who they like a lot when they love because of appearance.
If you love someone because of there heart you will have a long and smooth relationship. I would recommend A Midsummer Night’s Dream for teenagers and older. The reason I would recommend it to them is because it applies to them quite a bit. It has a lot of lessons that you should know too.
What is the mood of MSND?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is primarily a humorous play, but it also presents a greater variety of tone than may at first appear. The opening scene, for instance, begins with a conflict that has very serious stakes. When Theseus forces Hermia to choose between an unwanted marriage with Demetrius, and either life as a nun or death if she rejects that marriage, the audience may wonder if they’re watching a tragedy rather than a comedy.
Hermia isn’t the only character faced with a difficult love situation. Lysander risks losing his true love, Hermia. So does Helena, who longs for Demetrius. The strife extends to the fairy realm as well, where a jealous rift has opened between Oberon and Titania. But by the conclusion of Act V, all of the lovers have settled on their matches, the amorous discord has resolved into marriage, and Oberon closes the play with a magical blessing for the well-matched lovers.
Whereas the play begins with a serious tone, it ends on a romantic, reassuring tone. Though the play does flirt with seriousness, romance, and enchantment, the overriding tone of Midsummer is humorous, even satiric. Shakespeare threads humor throughout the play, and particularly in the scenes featuring Bottom and the other Mechanicals as they rehearse their adaptation of “Pyramus and Thisbe.” Aside from being amusingly incompetent thespians, Bottom and company lack the formal eloquence of the Athenian nobles and the fairies, often mispronouncing and even misusing words.
- The comic relief of the Mechanicals, which Shakespeare first introduces in Act I, scene ii, amplifies into full-on farce in Acts II through IV, when fairy mischief creates much chaos in a very short amount of time.
- The farce of the mixed-up lovers functions to alleviate the emotional gravity that characterized the play’s opening, and the amplification of confusion leads to a satisfying and romantic resolution in the final act.
In the end, the variation in tone lends Midsummer a greater degree of emotional complexity than audiences might expect from a comedy.
What is the main conflict in MSND?
Lesson Summary The only really serious conflict is the one between Hermia and her father, and that is literally a life or death situation for her. She does not have the right, under Athenian law, to decide who she wants to marry. Her father says it will be Demetrius or death.
How did Shakespeare’s audience react to his plays?
William Shakespeare is often credited with having a profound influence on language, literature, theater, and other elements of culture. It would not be difficult to argue that we owe most of modern storytelling’s characteristics to Shakespeare. Theater has never been the same since his plays’ first performances, and Shakespeare’s influence can be noted in everything from contemporary dialogue to expectations of audience behavior.
Shakespeare’s First Folio How Shakespeare Influences the Way We Speak Now Shakespeare’s Influence on the Arts (PDF)
No playwright before him could appeal to the masses quite like Shakespeare. Theater up until his time had been uniquely reserved for the wealthy and the educated. With the emergence of Shakespeare’s writing came tales that appealed to the masses. His plays were often imbued with universal truths of human existence, rather than acting as mirrors of the privileged life.
Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Audience (PDF) Theater Culture of Early Modern England Shakespeare: The Theater
Most of what we know about modern storytelling and language can be traced back to Shakespeare. Theater, in particular, has experienced many changes due to his influence. For example, the way in which Shakespeare’s plots move forward has helped define modern play-writing.
Similarly, Shakespeare’s complex characterizations have brought forth a new type of storytelling in which characters’ choices drive plots forward. As a result, journeys in his plays are dynamic and his characters undergo a significant amount of change while on them. In addition, Shakespeare is also credited as having invented genres that mixed both tragedy and comedy.
His genre-bending work contributed to brand-new experiences of both storytelling and theater.
Shakespeare’s Genres The Characters of Shakespeare: A Visual Analysis Shakespeare’s Influence on Other Artists
Shakespeare’s plays were also a formative force in American theater. Despite still being in its infancy in the early 19th century, the country’s theater productions were predominately of plays written by the Bard. Productions could be seen on frontiers or even in towns that were not yet completely settled.
William Shakespeare in America Why Do We Still Care About Shakespeare?
Some historians of modern musical theater argue that the adaption of Shakespeare’s plays into 20th-century productions has changed the form and function of musicals. Before this period, musicals were known to place musical numbers and performances in between dramatic scenes to act as breaks from the main action.
Musical Theater West Side Story Turns 50 Shakespeare in Performance: Research Guides
Shakespeare had an influence on an international level as well. Foreign stages often had to contend with special circumstances when performing the works of Shakespeare. Theater clowns with bilingual abilities were typically employed to help translate the plays’ dialogue as it was revealed to the audience.
- To add to this unique performance, these clowns often satirized dialogue and the plot, which led to the potential for different experiences of the play.
- As a result, players in traveling Shakespeare troupes would often try to protect the integrity of the plays by taking on additional production roles to ensure fidelity to the original works.
Actors sometimes doubled as directors, and directors could adopt the duties of producer. These multiple roles may have helped to usher in the legitimacy of the hyphenate artist as we have come to know them today.
Shakespeare and Globalization (PDF) From David Lynch to Andy Warhol: Ranking Multi-Hyphenate Artists Shakespeare in Translation
How did the audience behave during Shakespeare’s plays?
How did the audience behave? – Some of the audience went to the theatre to be seen and admired, dressed in their best clothes. But these people were not necessarily well behaved. Most didn’t sit and watch in silence like today. They clapped the heroes and booed the villains, and cheered the special effects.
What happens at the end of MSND?
In the forest, fairies enchant Demetrius so he falls back in love with Helena. At the end of the play, Theseus marries Hippolyta; Hermia marries Lysander; Helena marries Demetrius; and Oberon and Titania reconcile with one another.
What is the climax of MSND?
In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream the climax occurs in the argument between the four lovers, especially between Hermia and Helena, when both of Hermia’s suitors turn towards Helena.
Who is the antagonist in MSND?
Egeus A Midsummer Night’s Dream Get Hermia to marry Demetrius (failed), Kill Hermia and/or Lysander if need be (failed),
|”||As she is mine, I may dispose of her: Which shall be either to this gentleman, or to her death.||„|
|~ Egeus saying he will have Hermia executed if she doesn’t marry Demetrius.|
Egeus is the main antagonist of the 1596 Shakespeare comedy play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, He is the exceedingly cruel father of the play’s protagonist, Hermia, who wants her to marry a man named Demetrius instead of another named Lysander (whom she loves), and who will have her executed if she defies him.
What is the theme of love in MSND?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play about love. All of its action—from the escapades of Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena in the forest, to the argument between Oberon and Titania, to the play about two lovelorn youths that Bottom and his friends perform at Duke Theseus’s marriage to Hippolyta—are motivated by love.
- But A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not a romance, in which the audience gets caught up in a passionate love affair between two characters.
- It’s a comedy, and because it’s clear from the outset that it’s a comedy and that all will turn out happily, rather than try to overcome the audience with the exquisite and overwhelming passion of love, A Midsummer Night’s Dream invites the audience to laugh at the way the passion of love can make people blind, foolish, inconstant, and desperate.
At various times, the power and passion of love threatens to destroy friendships, turn men against men and women against women, and through the argument between Oberon and Titania throws nature itself into turmoil. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, love is a force that characters cannot control, a point amplified by workings of the love potion, which literally makes people slaves to love.
What are examples of love in MSND?
There is unrequited love, shown between Helena and Demetrius; unstable, jealous love between Oberon and Titania; false love, shown between each character influenced by Puck’s love potion, including Helena and Lysander, Demetrius and Helena, and Titania and Bottom; earned love between Theseus and Hippolyta; and true
What are the symbols in MSND?
To recap, in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the main symbols are the moon, roses, and the love potion. Remember, a symbol is an object that represents a deeper, more important idea often explored through a piece of literature.
What are the relationships in MSND?
Lysander and Hermia are lovers that elope because Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius. Demetrius and Helena have a hectic relationship, as they start out in love, go through a break up, and come back together because of the love potion.
What is the theme of reality versus dreams in the play MSND?
In the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream one of the main themes is the difference between perception and reality. The idea that things are not necessarily what they seem to be is displayed throughout the play. This is significant because in this play, Shakespeare uses imagination to turn impossible things reality.
What happens in Act 4 of MSND?
Themes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 4 Oberon and Titania reconcile with her returning back to his arms and accepting his rule as right. Lysander and Hermia are allowed to fully embrace their love for one another, thanks to Theseus, and Demetrius has conveniently become enamored with his once-jilted lover, Helena.
Why did people enjoy Shakespeare’s plays?
Transcript – REID: Hello, and welcome to the tenth and final episode of ‘Let’s Talk Shakespeare’, a podcast brought to you from Stratford-upon-Avon by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I’m Jennifer Reid and today I’m asking, how did Shakespeare get so popular? Now, in previous episodes of this podcast, I’ve spoken to lots of different experts and practitioners to get to an answer.
In essence, that’s what I’m doing today except that the time we have is not nearly enough to cover such a huge subject. So instead, my clips today will be touching on lots of different reasons and theories about why Shakespeare became and remains so popular today; we’ll be jumping about a bit in the timeline again.
So my first clip is from Michael Dobson, who’s the director of the Shakespeare Institute, and he’s going to tell us a bit about Shakespeare’s fame during his own lifetime and introduce us to some of the ideas coming up in this episode. DOBSON: Shakespeare got very popular in his own lifetime; and, in fact, from very early in his own career.
His narrative poem, Venus and Adonis, was about his most popular printed work right through his career. As early as 1593 he had an overnight sensation with this poem, which everybody finds tremendously erotic, tremendously charming and tremendously classical. There are many, many allusions to it. It’s a best-seller, there’s only one surviving copy of the first edition; it was read to death, possibly in some fairly insalubrious ways.
But the copy in the Bodleian library, which is the one that survives, is at least clean. His plays, once they started getting into print, very soon start getting into print with his name on them. Henry IV, Part 1 goes through multiple editions in his lifetime and continues to stay in print as a paperback even after they all come out together after the Folio in 1623,
- He is sufficient celebrity to have anecdotes told about him by 1599 or so; his plays are really good and people recognise from the start that there’s something very special about his talent.
- The kind of pyramid marketing process that Heminges and Condell outline in the preface of the First Folio where they say if you like him tell your friends to read him – ‘make sure they buy this book and spread the word’ – has just continued to work ever since.
There’s such a range of stuff in the plays, they always have to be cut and adapted and slightly modified for performance so that people and actors always have to contribute lots of themselves. There’s always perpetual opportunities for other people to get in on the act and do new things with them.
As drama, they always happen in the present; it’s not monumental stuff that goes out of fashion. It’s perpetually asking to be regenerated, translated and spread. He’s already well known, or at least some of the plays are already well known in continental Europe, before he dies. We know that Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice are being taken on tour and adapted, and adapted into German around the Baltic states while Shakespeare is still around.
Soon, anywhere the English language goes, so does Shakespeare. There’s an Italian book from the 1680s, that’s encouraging Italian people to learn English. The main reason that you would really bother to learn English is their ‘thundering tragedies’; you only bothered to learn English in the 17th century for the sake of the theatre, because the theatre was so good.
London was famously a theatre capital while Shakespeare was working there. We’ve got Thomas Platter coming from Switzerland and commenting on seeing Julius Caesar and Arnet van Gorkul from Holland describing that they’ve still got these amazing Roman playhouses in London. So, it’s a tourist phenomenon from early.
These plays really are extraordinarily good in a sort of generative way; they adapt things themselves and they ask to to be adapted themselves, into whatever medium may be lying about. They’re sort of measurably popular. It would be really interesting to do an animation of a map of the world and colour it in wherever they’ve actually seen Henry IV, Part 1 or first adapted Merchant of Venice, which is one of the most popular plays.
It’s often the first play done in any given country, in any given amateur dramatic society. Shakespeare is folk art as well as high art, people do it for themselves whether you like it or not. REID: So, Shakespeare was popular in his own lifetime; or rather, his work was. My next clip is from Elizabeth Dollimore, who is the Learning Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and she goes back to Shakespeare’s popularity just after his death and with the next generation through to the Victorians and the Romantic poets.
DOLLIMORE: A lot of it can be attributed to his popularity during the Victorian era. But let’s take a little back step and say, Shakespeare was popular amongst those who knew him and within the circle of the sort of person who would be exposed to that in his own lifetime.
He wouldn’t have been a national celebrity because there wasn’t much communication between, say, London and Yorkshire. But he certainly was popular in his own lifetime for what he did and, as most popular people, there were people who liked him and people who didn’t like him. So when we think about what happened next, there was a period in history where the theatres were closed and then reopened in about 1660.
At that time, Shakespeare’s plays were still being performed and were performed: although, were frequently amended by the next generation, sometimes quite hugely. There wasn’t at that time, any sense of reverence towards Shakespeare’s plays. They were nice blueprints that you could start with: if you wanted to add other characters, other scenes or alternate endings that was fine and up for grabs and you just did that.
- That tradition carried on roughly to the Victorian period where we start to see the beginning of what we might call ‘Bardolatry’, or people idolising Shakespeare.
- There’s a little bit of that with the Romantic poets; for instance, Keats is said to have always carried around a little portrait of Shakespeare when he went on holiday.
When he went on holiday, he said he never felt at home until he’d put up his little portrait of Shakespeare. In fact, there’s a well known portrait of Keats which has the portrait of Shakespeare in the background. So that’s fairly ‘Bardolatrous’, I’m not sure many people carry with them a little portrait of Shakespeare wherever they go.
- So, that kind of reverence kind of began with the Romantic poets and continued on into the Victorian era.
- By the middle to late Victorian era, we are beginning to see that reflect itself in the idea that stage performances out to be reverent towards Shakespeare’s original text and ought not to change too much from what was felt Shakespeare wrote.
Also around about that time, during the Victorian period, it became something that was taught at school and that immortalised it really because it got onto the curriculum and has stayed there ever since. Every person who goes through the education system in the UK is exposed to Shakespeare.
Whether that makes him popular or the person that most people would like to smack, I’m not really sure. Of course, that’s a famous Blackadder skit where Blackadder goes back in time and gives Shakespeare a left hook and says ‘That’s for all the schoolboys!’. To a degree, we should blame the Victorians for Shakespeare’s current ‘centrality’.
REID : Let’s talk about the theatres closing in the 17th century. The mid-1600s were not a great time for theatres in England and they were closed for eighteen years following the outbreak of civil war in 1642. They were reopened following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and after this, tastes changed but Shakespeare remained popular, if a little changed.
- The next clip is from Paul Edmondson, who is the Head of Research and Knowledge here at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, to talk about this and to introduce us to the idea of how Shakespeare travelled around the world.
- EDMONDSON: Shakespeare was popular in his own lifetime, he’s written about by other poets and literary critics of the day, always in terms of admiration.
This continues posthumously with the publication of the First Folio, which has lots of commendatory verses at the beginning of that, and with the funerary bust in Holy Trinity Church which compares him to Socrates, Virgil and Nestor. It talks about him as a writer, it invites us to see all he has written as living art.
It also talks about him as a poet of nature, it says ‘With whom quick nature died’; so when Shakespeare dies, something of nature dies as well. From the earliest point, Shakespeare is famous. He continues to be famous in lots of ways through to the closing of the theatres in the mid 17th century, when Britain was momentarily a republic, because of his influence which can be discerned through other playwrights who were wanting to evoke his greatness and popularity through their own work.
A major example is his collaborator John Fletcher who writes the first sequel ever to a Shakespeare play with his play The Woman’s Prize (or The Tamer Tamed), which is the continuation of The Taming of the Shrew, such was his admiration for his friend and co-author.
- They worked together on The Two Noble Kinsmen, Cardenio and Henry VIII: All Is True,
- Then, the theatres close and the restoration comes about with Charles II in the 1660s and the theatre starts to become popular again but the tastes have changed.
- We’ve moved from the outdoor spaces to massive indoor spaces and what happens then is that Shakespeare’s work undergoes a very significant renovation and adaptation for the taste of its time.
For example, a very popular playwright/poet of the time, Nahum Tate rewrites the ending of King Lear and adapts it significantly to give it a happy ending. Tate’s version holds the stage for about 150 years, which is extraordinary to think about now. Shakespeare builds in popularity in the middle of the 18th century: he becomes the playwright who is exported to the growing British Empire and then, lo and behold, stays behind after a century and a half of the empire.
Shakespeare remains: he becomes so embedded in the culture there and appropriated by the culture there. A very significant example of that is the United States of America: after the War of Independence, Shakespeare remains in the late 18th century and becomes part of the cosmopolitan makeup of the United States of America.
We see that all over the British Empire territory; Shakespeare is exported and that Shakespeare remains, which is one of the reasons why Shakespeare is world famous. Because of the British Empire, he’s translated into different languages and adapted by many different cultures.
Germany had a special affection for Shakespeare and has always had that, I think. Some of Shakespeare’s own actors went to perform in Germany in his lifetime and it’s Germany where the first translation of Shakespeare occurs in the middle of the 18th century. Such is the extent of Shakespeare’s popularity, he becomes an honorary German national poet.
By the middle of the 19th century, he’s there with Goethe, Schiller and German Shakespeare. It was a great translation by August Wilhelm Tegel and Ludwig Tieck in the early 19th century that would turn Shakespeare into a Romantic German playwright/poet through their translation.
- It’s still the most famous German translation: Germany, like any country that translates Shakespeare, will often translate the play afresh each time it’s performed.
- A director of the play might commission a new translation, so you’re always hearing and encountering Shakespeare differently each time when you go to the theatre in another language.
This helps to explain why he continues to be popular in other cultures, because he always seems like a modern playwright with new translations being lavished upon him. REID: One event that really put Shakespeare up on his pedestal was David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee, staged in September 1769 in Stratford-upon-Avon,
It not only had an effect on ‘Bardolatry’, but also for the first time really shone the spotlight on Stratford as the birthplace of the great national poet. So, back to Paul to introduce the Garrick Jubilee for us. EDMONDSON: A really important moment in the 18th century for the popularity of Shakespeare came with the great actor David Garrick, who in 1769, was invited by the corporation (the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon) to hold a special celebration of Shakespeare, which he did in the form of a jubilee in that September.
It was the first time really that Shakespeare broke out of the playhouses and out of the libraries, and onto the streets among the people. It was, as it were, a ‘civic Shakespeare’ and it really helped to encourage a general feeling of popularity for Shakespeare.
In fact, one of the things that is notorious about the Garrick Jubilee is that not a word of Shakespeare was spoken. His fame was so kind of self-assured in the minds of those who were gathering to celebrate him that they were celebrating, as it were, the name and the reputation already, rather than the work itself.
Any allusion, any moment of Shakespeare that was referred to through David Garrick’s own adaptations of his work. There was a great ode spoken in a temporary theatre pavilion that Garrick had built on the site of the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Garrick himself spoke the ode and was given the Freedom of the Town of Stratford and Thomas Arne, who wrote Rule Britannia, wrote the music for the ode. It was a great national moment that took place in the town and from then on, it sort of sealed Stratford’s fate to become a Shakespeare ‘destination’.
People were already visiting the house on Henley Street, Shakespeare’s birthplace, prior to the jubilee but of course they did so much more afterwards. The jubilee itself transferred to the West End of London and became a show in its own right and very popular.
- REID: Now although it’s not quite true that there was no tourist industry in the town prior the jubilee, like is often said, it certainly did the town no harm.
- It was this increase in tourist interests that led to the eventual purchase and saving of Shakespeare’s Birthplace by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
My final clip from Paul today is about this purchase. EDMONDSON: Descendants of Shakespeare’s sister lived in part of the Henley Street house until the early part of the 19th century. Then, it fell into further private ownership and the whole site came up for auction in 1847,
- There was a public feeling that monies could be raised in order to secure the memorial for Shakespeare through the Henley Street house.
- Monies were collected in Stratford and London via committees: the London committee included Charles Dickens among its members and enough money was raised for it to be accepted by the auctioneers in September 1847.
That meant that the house was effectively in public ownership and a trust, what became the Birthplace Trust, really started with the purchase of the house. It was a conservation purchase, it was self-consciously an effort to commemorate Shakespeare through a living memorial: a house.
Charles Dickens, for example, thought that whereas he didn’t really want to see a statue of Shakespeare that he did think a house was a good way of remembering a writer. Of course, Shakespeare’s house is amongst the first of writers’ houses in Britain to commemorate the writer in this way. Then follow lots of similar examples: for example, the Brontë Parsonage in the 1890s, is in a way modelled on the example that you can visit a place and visit the house of a writer.
REID: And of course, without the Birthplace we wouldn’t have this podcast. My next clip is from Ben Crystal, who is an actor, director and producer, who has a slightly different take on this question than my previous speakers about how Shakespeare has been turned from a playwright and man of the theatre into a legend and man of the millennium.
- CRYSTAL: Why are we talking about Shakespeare today rather than someone else? It starts at the time: before Shakespeare was ‘Shakespeare’, Marlowe was ‘Shakespeare’ and before Marlowe was ‘Shakespeare’, Lilley was ‘Shakespeare’.
- There was always someone at the top of the tree.
- It was Marlowe who had the notion that if I give my characters poetry to speak, as their dialogue, and a particular type of poetry with a particular type of rhythm, that has the same rhythm as spoken English then they will sound normal and natural and at the same time at the same time heightened.
Shakespeare took that idea and ran with it and realised that if he bent and broke that rhythm every now and again that it would replicate the same sort of non-fluency that we have now: the stuttering and the hesitations and the pauses and the fast-paced dialogue that the Greeks hundreds and thousands of years before had called stichomythia (rapid dialogue in poetry and plays).
To sort of bridge it to now, the reason why he probably became popular then and is popular now is because he didn’t ever write what it was to be from Stratford-upon-Avon or Warwick or England, he wrote what it was to be human. Whether it’s being jealous of your best friend’s girlfriend, or loving someone so much you want to kill them, or trying to understand what it is to be a king or a soldier or a strong woman in a patriarchal society.
These are all things that we can relate to around the world; love and loss, yearning and hatred, jealousy and death. It’s not like Pinter, where you have to have a bit of an understanding of what it is to rent a basement flat in Camden Town: the themes and the issues are universal.
- Shakespeare became ‘Shakespeare’ only relatively recently, 100 or so years after he died.
- First of all, you’ve got the Puritanical regime in the civil war, where no theatre was put on.
- Then in the 1660s onwards, you have Shakespeare’s plays being rewritten with happy endings.
- Then about 100 years later you have David Garrick, who started the Stratford Festival, and that’s only really when Shakespeare started to become ‘Shakespeare’.
Then 15 years after that, such was the interest in Shakespeare, that for the very first time someone reordered the plays not by genre (as in tragedy, comedy and history) but chronologically. They didn’t really know the chronology of the plays and the order in which they were performed and written: we still don’t really know fully the exact ordering of them, but we have a pretty good guess.
As soon as you start to think about the order in which the plays were written, it’s hard not to blend that into at the arc of the man’s life. As soon as you try to drill down deeper into when those plays were written and what things were happening in Elizabethan London at the time and the mirroring of, or the references to, the Irish skirmishes and Henry V and that kind of thing which places it quite firmly in 1599.
Or the movement of his company, when his clown left in 1599 and the new clown arrived or the change of monarch. Then you start more and more to try to divine the man from the works and ascribe biography from the fiction, essentially. REID: My final clip today is from Professor Stanley Wells, and Stanley has been seeing Shakespeare’s plays for 60 years or so.
He can summarise perfectly for us why we never tire of seeing the same play, over and over and over again. WELLS: Shakespeare is more famous now than most of, but not all the other writers of his time. Some of them are highly regarded by people who take a specialised interest in literature and in drama.
People like Christopher Marlowe, author of Doctor Faustus or Ben Jonson, author of great comedies like War Pony and so on; their plays are valued. But Shakespeare is valued much more than any of his contemporaries, for many reasons. One is that he wrote more plays than them and another is that he most of the plays he wrote are good plays or, successful plays.
- Another is that they are varied plays that he writes: light comedies like Two Gentlemen of Verona ; profound tragedies like King Lear ; fascinating histories about politics of the past which relate to the politics of his own time, quite strongly too.
- These are some of the reasons why Shakespeare remains popular but fundamentally, I think Shakespeare has outstripped his contemporaries because he is such a profound writer.
His plays give us the greatest sense of the value of human life; of how people live; of how people love and of the importance of human relationships than any other writers of his time or of any other time. Shakespeare’s plays are as popular as they are because he was perhaps the greatest writer who has ever lived.
It’s partly because he was writing plays which go on being performed and therefore which can be brought freshly to life for each generation by actors of the present. In other words, he’s not simply a bookish writer like some other great writers of the past like John Milton or Alexander Pope who are great writers, but you’ve got to sit down with a book and read them.
With Shakespeare, you can the full Shakespearean experience – you can only, indeed, get the full Shakespearean experience – seeing his plays acted. Preferably, I think, in the theatre but also in the cinema. Every time the plays are acted they become slightly different, of course, because each time there is a necessary interaction between the text, which is what the actors are saying, and between the personalities and the skills of actors themselves.
- This is one of the reasons why one can go on seeing Shakespeare’s plays with great pleasure and fascination over many decades.
- I’ve been seeing Shakespeare’s plays for 60 years or more, and I can still keep go and see Much Ado About Nothing or Hamlet or King Lear with expectations of not only pleasure but of having a somewhat different experience of the last time I saw that particular play because of the different styles in which it’s performed and personalities of the actors, who are performing these great roles.
Each time the plays are performed, they take on new resonances with life at the time they’re being performed. They’ve been used sometimes for political purposes in Soviet Russia, for example: they became used often as an expression of dissidence from the current regime.
Hamlet could be seen as a protester of the state. When Hamlet was performed in Romania during the regime of the dictator Ceauşescu, Claudius – the villain of the play – was actually played as Ceauşescu and Gertrude, his wife, as Madame Ceauşescu as a way of pointing political parallels with the time at which the play was being performed.
That’s just one example of the way the plays can take on new resonances in relation to the society prevailing at the time they’re being performed. REID: Well that’s the end of this episode and it’s the end of the series. Thank you to today’s speakers, Paul, Stanley, Ben, Michael and Liz and to everyone whose spoken to me throughout this series.
How does Shakespeare use conflict in his plays?
Introduction – In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Shakespeare explores the subject of conflict in a variety of powerful ways. The main way conflict is demonstrated is through physical violence, purposely connected to the fact that the play is set in an era characterized by the wars between some of the European countries.
Shakespeare also explores other types of conflict, including the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets as a consequence of the macho Italian culture present in those years, the consistent parental conflict between Lord Capulet and Juliet, the inner and emotional conflict that conditions Romeo and Juliet, and conflicts caused by friendship, loyalty, pride and honour.
Shakespeare’s play recapitulates the story of two young lovers who, despite the opposition of their families, decide to marry clandestinely; however, the pressure of the family feud and a chain of fatalities lead to the couple choosing suicide rather than living without the other.
- Conflict is the theme that sustains the structure of the play, as it appears in the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement.
- The audience is constantly noticing the numerous conflicts by the language used, especially by the contrast between love and hate that is successfully produced with oxymorons, juxtapositions and paradoxes.
In Romeo and Juliet, a well done tragedy, the rule of the three unities is not kept which gives a sense of disorganization that brings conflict with it, as the three unities rules gave strict directives and limitations of place, time and action that directly avoided a complicated trama, and since Shakespeare ignores this rules, the trama itself is complicated and so on it portrays a sense of complexity and conflict,
- Also the technique was derived by French classicist, a culture that existed during the French revolution, a period of time known by its wars and conflicts between two sides; the good ones; the victims, and the bad ones; the powerful.
- Furthermore, Shakespeare mixes prose with verse, this could represent the contrast between love and hate portrayed through the entire play.
Also, this might be used to resemble the different social and economical status of the characters, as the main ones that use prose are the nurse and the servants. But, verse, on the other hand, is portrayed through the characters of Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Benvolio, Mercutio and any socially “important” character.
- He also mixes the tragic events with funny ones in order to make conflict seem ridiculous and absurd.
- An example would be when Lady Capulet mocks Lord Capulet in Act One, Scene One, by saying “A crutch, a crutch! why call you for a sword?” just before they intervene in a serious fight between the Montagues and Capulets.
Conflict is expeditiously introduced in the Prologue. The Chorus intones a Shakespearean sonnet (which was something usually used in the love poetry of the Elizabethan times) presenting the rivalry between the Montagues and Capulets. By mentioning the “ancient grudge”, Shakespeare highlights that the feud between these two families originated a long time ago and it informs us that it has spread throughout the entire community when we read “where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” since we assume that by civil he is referring to everybody.
This is directly connected with the characteristic national and/or international conflicts of these era such as the Italian and Anglo-French wars. Furthermore, the Prologue lets the audience know that this ancient grudge has resulted in recent violent altercations by saying that it would “break into new mutiny.” This is significant since it already tells the audience that Romeo and Juliet are going to be victims of this problem, making the audience feel powerless and sympathetic towards both of them.
The Prologue then describes the situation of Romeo and Juliet, an unsuccessful and unlucky couple, labeling them as “star-crossed lovers,” which refers in a literal way, to be against the stars. During that period of time, people believed that the stars determined people’s fates.
Considering this, Shakespeare creates dramatic irony by giving the audience information clarifying that Romeo and Juliet will die as a consequence of the conflict spreaded by the older generations and the conflict would only be resolved through their deaths: “Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.”.
Shakespeare also expected a sense of empathy from the audience towards Romeo and Juliet. Both of them are victims of fate, caught up in the conflicts between their parents, and a 16th century, as well as a modern audience would be likely to identification with them.
- Shakespeare introduces conflict with a violent scene In Act 1, Scene 1, the exposition, to emphasise the “ancient grudge” between the families and, partly, to highlight the possible consequences of unnecessary conflicts to the audience.
- The play begins with random violence from the servants, the macho posturing spreading into a violent brawl.
This whole fight is a consequence of the macho Italian culture in the late 16th century that “forced” men to prove their masculinity with violence. And also the focus on family name played a part, honour and pride, springs out of a small insult of biting a thumb.
- Basically the main cause of this fight is the competitive environment that men and women, but especially men lived in.
- This conflict also introduces the main antagonist of Tybalt who ridicules Benvolio for being “drawn among these heartless hinds”.
- A hind is a male hart, so basically he is insulting his manhood to provoke him.
Here the animal terminology refers to the low status of the servants that were previously arguing. Benvolio tries to preserve the peace by saying ” I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me” showing him as a peacemaker and a foil to Tybalt.
- However, Tybalt states that he “hates the word As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: Have at thee, coward!” peace.
- Tybalt figuratively refers to peace in such a way to represent his repulsion towards the actions caused by it.
- This exhibits the profound, established hatred and opposition between some members of the Montagues and Capulets.
He also compares it to hell which, if we consider the importance of religion during the Middle Ages, we can deduce that it was a really serious topic for them. Taking into account context, we can clearly witness that Tybalt considered the Montagues as the most horrific thing in earth.
When the Prince appears with the intention of ceasing the brawl, he refers to them with an interesting terminology, comparing them with “beasts” to illustrate his low opinion of them. The play is structured so that the conflicts caused by love and hate are never far apart so that they remain a focus in the audience’s minds.
In the ball scene love and hate are successfully juxtaposed. When Tybalt, Capulet’s nephew, notices that Romeo is at the ball uninvited, he is outraged that a Montague has dared to attend the ball causing conflict “Now, by the stock and honour of my kin, To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.” A conflict between him and Lord Capulet who doesn’t want any confrontation at his party “Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone”.
Romeo approaches Juliet and kisses her immediately afterwards which emphasizes the important role of conflict in their love story. Romeo is more than surprised that Juliet is the daughter of her father’s enemy; “Is she a Capulet? O dear account! my life is my foe’s debt” expressing how bad his luck is and completely changing the mood of the scene from an optimistic one to a pessimistic and heavy tone.
Juliet is equally stunned and furious at fate when she finds out the true identity of Romeo: “My only love sprung from my only hate!” The contrast between love, represented by Romeo and Juliet, and hate, portrayed by Tybalt, is a procedure to combine the two concepts and establish relationships between them.
- More exactly, it is used as a technique to present two opposite concepts that are related at the same time.
- By using this, Shakespeare is able to further enhance the beauty of their love story since the presence of violence makes it seem against the odds.
- Also the instability of this scene’s tone triggers a sense of conflict.
Conflict is played out in all its forms in the climax of the play. In Act 3, Scene 1, the slightly optimistic tone of the play when Romeo and Juliet marry changes dramatically as Romeo is drawn into the family feud.Tybalt provocatively labels Romeo as a ‘villain,’ and when Romeo rejects the challenge to a duel, Mercutio steps in to defend his family name.
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Place Order Mercutio gets gravely hurted and immediately declares “A plague o’ both your houses!” as soon as he discovers the cause of his death, the needless but prominent hatred between the two families. In the film version directed by Baz Luhrmaan in 1996 the situation is accompanied by a serious storm, this pathetic fallacy emphasizes the transformation into a tragedy.
By wishing a “plague” on them, this phrase could easily be interpreted as a curse, highlighting how cursed these two families are. This situation is the catalyst for the tragic route that the play takes from this point onward. Moreover, Romeo passes from the stage of childhood into adulthood. Romeo isn’t genuinely interested in participating in the family’s grudge, but his responsibility for his best friend’s death “O, I am fortune’s fool!” generates in him a powerful thirst for revenge that is successfully sealed by killing Tybalt showing that hatred only breeds hatred.
This impulsive decision feeds the conflict he had once desired to conclude: “This day’s black fate on more days doth depend; This but begins the woe, others must end.” He is implying that fate controls everything so he is going to fight Tybalt and let fate deliver the final outcome.
- As a concept, this could be considered as an ethical lesson about the consequences of our actions, especially reminding us, the audience, that the simple existence of a conflict, or part of it, can trigger a tragic event.
- Another type of conflict presented in the play is the relationship between parents and their children.
The discord between Juliet and her parents is clearly detectable in the play. In Act 3, Scene 5, as a father in a patriarchal society, a society where man had all the power, Lord Capulet believes he has the right to choose who Juliet should marry, and with the intention of solidifying his social position and wealth, he chooses Paris, a noble, wealthy gentleman.
When Juliet refuses to marry as she loves and is already married to Romeo, Lord Capulet becomes furious, as he perceives it to be the reaction of an ungrateful, disobedient child. His tone is angry and violent and his threats are shocking. He accuses her of being a “mistress minion” sarcastically as she is doing the opposite of obeying which is the main job of a minion, “green-sickness carrion! where the idea of an illness caused by not being married was implied to make her scared”, “baggage” or prostitute to make her feel dirty, “tallow-face” tallow is the fat part of an animal and the idea of being ” fat” is usually associated with ugliness, “curse” to victimise himself and make her feel pity for him, and “hilding” or despicable; when he refers to her as a mistress minion he is calling her a spoiled and immoral woman just because she isn’t doing what the man of the family wants, revealing the authoritative and patriarchal side of Lord Capulet that he wants to maintain.
Shakespeare used animal imagery to reflect how much the marriage of Juliet and Paris meant to Lord Capulet, since this terminology was typically used to describe or dishonor the low status members of the community, the servants. This scene illustrates the obsessive necessity that Lord Capulet has for control.
He wants to possess Juliet; in most of the scenes he easily manipulates her treating her as a unworthy puppet in order to receive specific and planned benefits. Also, he doesn’t retain any gram of empathy for her unhappiness. Clear evidence is when he threatens to disown her if she doesn’t marry Paris, with: “I tell thee what: get thee to church o’ Thursday, Or never after look me in the face.” and if she doesn’t obey, he will leave her to “hang, beg, starve, die in the streets ” direct aggressive verbs, illustrating how little he cares about his daughter’s happiness and how much he does for what this marriage would imply.
Lord Capulet isn’t aware of Romeo and Juliet’s marriage but the audience is. The perception of the audience would be mixed between dramatic irony and suspense since the scene is juxtaposed with Romeo and Juliet’s wedding night. During Elizabethans times, Catholics considered bigamy a mortal sin, so this situation would engage them since they would want to discover if f Juliet will develop into a sinner or not.
- Language is also systematically used to represent conflict in a variety of ways.
- Romeo uses terms commonly used in a battle description such as “siege” or “‘well armed” while he expresses his love towards Rosaline.
- This use of imagery represents his incessant fight with this toxic obsession.
- By using oxymorons, Shakespeare also magnifies conflict through antagonistic concepts by using words like “brawling love”, This is a negative concept (brawling) contrasted with a positive topic: love.
Considering that an oxymoron possesses an imbalanced nature of the phrases it subconsciously emphasizes conflict. In Act 1 Scene 1, Romeo enthusiastically says “O brawling love, O loving hate”. These terms contradict themselves and emphasize the continuous imbalance that is deliberately generating and even worsening the conflict.
As an audience we notice conflict a lot more if there is such a prominent contrast as this one. Light and dark imagery is also used as representations of love and hatred, to illustrate the of aversed possible choices on every situation. In Act 3 Scene 5, Juliet has a conversation with Romeo, already exiled, and declares that there is lightness in the darkness: “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes”.
This contrast between light and darkness is developed metaphorically by the oppositions love-conflict, sometimes creating irony. For example, the love of Romeo and Juliet is a light in the heart of the darkness and hatred that surrounds them, but they are always together at night, in the dark, while quarrels and clashes take place in broad daylight.
- Conflict is finally resolved in the denouement of this exceptional play.
- Romeo and Juliet, the two heroes, both kill themselves.
- It is also the outcome of the play because the truth about the secret marriage, the elaborate ploys by the Friar Laurence´s confession: “I married them”.
- The stupidity of the two families are disclosed by Prince Escalus, the man in charge of justice, and Capulet and Montague end their feud.
Their reconciliation was already mentioned in the Prologue “They share words of reconciliation and peace, with the Montagues offering to “rise her statue in pure gold” and the Capulets offering the same for Romeo, saying: “O brother Montague, give me thy hand: This is my daughter’s jointure, for no more can I demand.” In conclusion, this play presents different types of conflict in a variety of engaging ways.
What might the audience do during the performance?
Sometimes, audiences will be expected to say particular lines, sing along with songs, or even perform simple choreography. In some theatrical performances, actors will bring an audience member up on stage for a short time, or will go into the audience and walk around among the seats.
Did Shakespeare’s audience understand his plays?
Only to an extent. The more educated his audience, the more likely they were to ‘get’ some of the more subtle parts. The ‘Groundlings’ in the cheap seats would get the crasser humor. The language, however, would be their everyday language.
What did the audience of Shakespeare experience on a typical day at the Theatre?
How Was Seeing a Play in Shakespeare’s Time Different from Seeing a Play Today? – Shakespeare’s audience was perhaps not as well behaved as you are. Since the play was so long, people would leave their seats and go looking for food to eat and ale to drink during the performance, or perhaps go visit with their friends.
How did people at the time of Shakespeare think about plays and theater?
The theatre in Shakespeare’s time was much different than it is today. Authors wrote plays for the masses, especially those who couldn’t read or write. The theatre changed a lot during Shakespeare’s lifetime. The authorities didn’t like it and didn’t allow acting in the city itself.
They thought it had a bad influence on people and kept them from going to church. Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, loved acting and helped the theatre become popular. As time went on more and more popular theatres emerged outside city walls. This was considered an unsafe area with crime and prostitution,
Shakespeare’s theatre was full of life. People did not sit all the time and it was not quiet during the performance, The audience could walk around, eat and drink during the play. They cheered, booed and sometimes even threw objects at the actors. Theatres were open arenas or playhouses that had room for up to three thousand people.
They were structures made mainly of wood. There was no heating and actors got wet when it rained. The stage was higher and there was an open pit in front of it where most of the people could stand in. Richer people and noblemen sat in the gallery. There was almost no scenery because the dialogue was the most important part of the play.
Colourful and well-designed costumes were very important and told the people about the status of a character. Women never performed in plays, so young boys played female characters. The performances took place in the afternoon because it was too dark at night.
The company belonged to shareholders and mangers. They were responsible for everything and got most of the money when the company was successful. Sometimes they even owned there own buildings. Actors worked for the managers and after some time became a permanent member of the company. Apprentices were young boys were allowed to act in menial roles. They also played females characters in plays.
Lord Chamberlain’s Men and the Admiral’s Men were the two most important companies in London at that time. Among the most famous theatres during were the Globe, the Swan and the Fortune.
How does Midsummer Night’s dream make you feel?
Mood in ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” By keeping things light and comical through the use of the setting, the language and the plot (character mix-ups, anyone?), the mood you can take from this Shakespeare creation is one of happy amusement and playfulness.
Why do people like A Midsummer Night’s dream?
Why should you read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream?” – Iseult Gillespie A Midsummers Night’s Dream uses an abundance of magical imagery, quirky characters and entrancing language to entertain the audience with a story that is simultaneously a romance and a fairy story, set primarily over the course of one night in the woods.
- The whole text is available as a Folger Digital edition,
- The seemingly chaotic plot draws heavily on carnival, mischief and magic – but it also draws us into a world that reveals common concerns about finding human connection, fun and inspiration, As with all of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has roots in different sources, mythical motifs, and other stories.
offers a fascinating overview of Shakespeare’s inspirations for his most topsy-turvy play. In turn, the play has sparked many more creations – see for details on the visual art Shakespeare’s magical fairies and spell-binding language inspired. Although Shakespeare’s language can be tricky to get to grips with when you’re reading or watching his work.
- Jame’s Baldwin’s essay “” offers a brilliant argument for why Shakespeare’s language still resonates.
- A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has been discussed and reimagined countless times since it first appeared.
- Read about its extensive staging history by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
- As details, the story remains up for all types of interpretation; and has taken as many surprising forms as its characters.
Visit to discover more about a particularly experimental recent staging, which reveals the radical nature of the story. : Why should you read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream?” – Iseult Gillespie
Who suggests that the audience consider whether the play has been a dream?
What can you find by looking at the same things in Oberon’s speech? – In this scene, Oberon is talking about Titania in front of his servant Puck, but the speech reveals a lot about his motives, emotions and offers an introduction to what Oberon is like as a King and leader. Above you can explore Oberon’s speech in more detail. See if you can notice the things Mark tells us to look out for:
What can we learn about Oberon and his world from this speech? Ask yourself:
What do you notice about the number of adjectives, compared to verbs, in the speech? What does this tell us about the environment Oberon is describing?What effect do the rhyming couplets have on the speech? How does the rhyme scheme, metre and word choice effect the way you view Oberon? Does Oberon always talk in rhyming couplets? If not, what does it mean when he doesn’t?How is imagery, particularly natural imagery, used in this speech? What does this suggest about Oberon and his position?
Using Mark’s strategies, we’ve started to look at what Oberon’s language tells us about him in this Act 2 Scene 1 soliloquy. See if you can complete the grid below and finish the four points which explain what this speech reveals about him and his world.
Point Oberon dislikes the fact that Titania has not given him what he wants and wants her to suffer. Evidence ‘And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes, / And make her full of hateful fantasies.’ Explanation Words like ‘streak’, ‘make’, ‘full’ and ‘hateful’ are harsh and show us something about Oberon’s state of mind, particularly his attitude towards Titania in this moment.
He seems to want Titania to suffer as a result of their argument. Where he later tells Puck to ‘annoint’ Demetrius’ eyes with the juice of the flower, his choice of the word ‘streak’ when speaking about Titania indicates a very different motive for the same action.
- Taken together, this reaction could also suggest that Oberon is not used to being denied, or to not getting his own way.
- Point Oberon has a gentle side to his personality, even when plotting his revenge.
- Evidence Select an option ‘There sleeps Titania sometime of the night / Lull’d in these flowers with daces and delight.’ ‘A sweet Athenian lady is in love with a disdainful youth.’ ‘Effect it with some care, that he may prove / More fond on her that she upon her love.’ Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here Point Oberon is powerful and understands the natural world around him.
Evidence Click text to edit Enter your evidence here. Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here Point Click text to edit Enter your point here. Evidence Click text to edit Enter your evidence here. Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here.
Look at Oberon’s instructions to Puck in the rest of the play. How does he speak to him and how are these speeches and instructions structured in comparison to this speech? Does his language change when he addresses different audiences? Take a look at the things he says immediately before this speech, when talking to Titania. What impression do we gain of him during these interactions in Act 2 and what is the dynamic of their relationship? Why do you think he reacts the way he does to Titania when she refuses to hand over the little changeling boy that he wants to be his henchman? Why do you think he uses the juice of the flower against her?Oberon only speaks to Puck and Titania during the play. Take a look at the language he uses, including the names and titles he uses for the other characters, in these interactions. How is his language different when talking to Titania?
Analysing the Themes As with all Shakespeare’s plays there are lots of themes that appear in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a great idea to keep a list of key quotes and examples of these themes in each act as you go through the play, looking at who uses them and where they come up. Here are three of the themes that can be seen a lot in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and are useful to look out for:
Many of the characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream experience unrequited love. Helena says of Demetrius ‘He will not know what all but he do know; / And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes, / So I, admiring of his qualities’ (1:1). Later, Demetrius says of Hermia ‘O why rebuke him that loves you so?’ (3:2). After the juice of the flower is administered by Puck both Hermia and Lysander feel the pain the others have gone through, experiencing an unrequited love of their own. Even Titania has to work hard for Bottom’s love, as he seems more interested in what the fairies can fetch for him. Each character responds to unrequited love in different ways, particularly as some of them have had their love returned previously. For example, Hermia sees Lysander’s sudden change in feelings for her and Helena was once engaged to Demetrius, only for him to fall out of love with her. How does this change impact on their emotions and experiences? How does it make the characters feel? How is it resolved for them?
Puck’s epilogue tells the audience to imagine the whole play and its events have been a dream, a false reality that has no power to offend. Ending the play this way means the audience has to think about how much of what they have witnessed was actually real. Even when Theseus and Hippolyta hear the lovers’ version of events they also struggle to believe what has occurred. Take a closer look at the text and watch the video. Think about why Shakespeare would put this speech at the end of the play. What does it tell us?
Many characters have power or control over others in the play. Hippolyta has been ‘won’ by Theseus when he defeated her armies, although it is unclear how she feels about this and the language is ambiguous; and Hermia is being given to Demetrius against her will. In the forest, Oberon uses magic and deception to control Titania and both he and Titania have servants in the fairy world. Helena talks about the power Demetrius has over her and even the mechanicals could be said to have power struggles, with Bottom’s attempts to claim every part and to run their rehearsals. In which scenes do you see these power struggles take place the most? Who wins them and how are they resolved? How does it change the way we think about the play if you focus on the way in which people are controlled against their will? How might it resonate with a modern audience?
Thinking specifically about the theme of Magic and Reality, look at the extract from Puck’s Act 5 epilogue. In this speech he asks the audience to imagine they ‘have but slumbered here’ and that the magical events they have seen are not real, but ‘a dream’. Puck If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend. And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearnèd luck Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue, We will make amends ere long: Else the Puck a liar call. So, goodnight unto you all. Give me your hands if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends. To avoid the audience hissing at us. Looking at this speech, think about why Shakespeare chose to end the play in this way. What references does Puck make to reality and dreams and why? We’ve started to think about this question here. See if you can complete the grid below and finish the four points about Puck’s closing speech. Point Puck suggests that everything the audience has just watched might have only been a dream and not reality at all. Evidence ‘That you have but slumbered here / While these visions did appear.’ Explanation Puck suggests that the audience have been sleeping and that the events of the play might only have occurred in their dreams. However, he only asks the audience to do this ‘if we shadows have offended’ which adds doubt. In using these references to dreamers and dreams, Shakespeare also reminds the audience of the play’s title and the fact that the play was meant to occur at ‘Midsummer’, a time when the divide between the mortal world and the magical realms was believed to be thin. Point Puck mentions the offence the fairies may have caused in meddling with mortals, which connects the audience with the lovers and mechanicals. Evidence Select an option ‘If we shadows have offended, / Think but this, and all is mended, / That you have but slumbered here / While these visions did appear.’ ‘And this weak and idle theme, / No more yielding but a dream, / Gentles, do not reprehend.’ ‘Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue, / We will make amends ere long.’ Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here. Point Puck’s speech feels rehearsed or even planned, with a structured form. Evidence Click text to edit Enter your evidence here. Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here Point Click text to edit Enter your point here. Evidence Click text to edit Enter your evidence here. Explanation Click text to edit Enter your explanation here.
You can print the PEE grids from each of the sections on this page to help students explore the language of central characters and some of the imagery used in more detail. The following theme guide may also be useful in discussing the ideas in the text. Themes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Who addresses the audience at the end of Midsummer Night’s dream?
William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream ends with the fairy Puck breaking the fourth wall and delivering a monologue directly to the audience. This monologue functions as epilogues to the play. While these visions did appear.