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Shakespeare - Midsummer Night's Dream "In what ways (and to what ends) does Shakespeare use metamorphosis?"

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Introduction

Shakespeare - Midsummer Night's Dream LT111-1 "In what ways (and to what ends) does Shakespeare use metamorphosis?" Throughout this play, Shakespeare employs the theme of metamorphosis (through the inclusion of the fairies and their magic) not only to further the story as an indirect plot device but also to highlight the play's other prevalent themes (e.g.: love, marriage, gender, jealousy, etc.). Despite the undertones of 'tragedy', the play is primarily concerned with comedy, the employment of both ideological and physical metamorphosis throughout providing the basis for the comedic elements. The majority of the comedy revolves around the derision and scorn of the craftsmen whose inclusion supplies the humour in their woeful attempt at writing a tragedy (a scene specifically calculated to amuse regular theatregoers and urban sophisticates) and the patronising tones by which they are addressed (regarded as 'hempen homespuns', III.1.70 and 'hard-handed men...which never laboured in their minds until now', V.1.72-3 by Robin and Philostrate respectively). On a more base comedic note, Bottoms physical metamorphosis also serving to belittle the craftsmen further as well as the humorous pun regarding his name coupled with the fact that he is transformed into an ass. ...read more.

Middle

through the application of the fairies magic), adoring and deriding their partners by turns, while confidently proclaiming all the while that their behaviour is prompted by judgement and reason. Again reiterating comedic undertones of the play in general. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is thematically a marriage play, another medium through which metamorphosis is utilised in this play. The quintessential example of metamorphosis, marriage takes two seeming opposites (two differing personas with conflicting aspirations and ideals) and combines them into a cohesive entity that is better than the two were separately (e.g.: that of Theseus and Hippolyta). Both physical and ideological metamorphosis have a pivotal role in the play, the changes themselves are not predominantly arbitrary supernatural acts (as for example Ovid's 'Metmorphoses' a book that heavily influenced this text). The changes that do not allude to this consensus are the short-term plot devices such as the ass's head and the magic juice that controls Robin and Oberon. The major transformations - from rehearsal to performance, from child to adult, from single people to couples - each involve a permanent growth from one state to the next. ...read more.

Conclusion

Indeed, the consistent motif of metamorphosis would suggest that this play has been heavily influenced by Ovid and various other Greek literary works such as X and Y - which also detail the power and mysticism of metamorphosis. Metamorphosis, central to Ovid's opus, is clearly represented in Midsummer Night's Dream by Bottom's partial transformation to a f�ted donkey (a reference to another Metamorphoses, that of Apuleius). More subtle metamorphosis can be seen in the many love-relationships among fairies and mortals. Also, Titania's name and much of her speech on the disorder and shifting of the seasons (Act II Scene 1) is reminiscent of Ovid's work. In summary, Shakespeare expresses the concepts of metamorphosis through emotive diction and the vivid imagery of the transformations that serves reiterate the power of the alterations themselves and the extent of which the characters are subject to them. Metamorphosis is utilised not only to convey the fundamental themes of the text but also to underline characterisation and further the plot when required. The power of metamorphosis in its ability to alter both ideological and physical form accentuates its mythical eminence. Oliver Simpson Page 1 4/27/2007 ...read more.

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The prose style is fluent here, and there is much thoughtful commentary on the theme of metamorphosis, some of which may have been influenced by secondary reading. However, there is very little quotation from the play, and the writer has confused the names of some of the characters. While background reading can be a useful aid to thought, it is not a substitute for close reading and analysis of the text, which is the hallmark of the best A level essays.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 01/03/2012

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