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Social, cultural & historical aspects of "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

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Introduction

Although there is no definite evidence, historians say that the original production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will have probably been performed at either The Globe Theatre or alternatively, The Rose Theatre in around 1596, the year of Thomas Barkley and Elizabeth Carey's wedding. Carey was Queen Elizabeth's god-daughter, meaning that the reception and celebrations after the ceremony would probably have been of the highest-class. Because Shakespeare was creating this play especially for Elizabeth's god-daughter, he added a strong reference to her delivered by Oberon in Act 2 Scene 1 as he says, "Fair vestal, throned in the West." At this point William Shakespeare was one of the most famous playwrights around and to have him write a play for a special occasion would have been something that only royalty could do. It would have probably been written between autumn 1594 and spring 1595. We know that it was definitely not written before 1594 as there are two passages in the play that refer to this very year. Firstly, Titania's speech on the foul weather in Act 2 Scene 1. The summer was more boisterous and wet than "the agedst man of our land is able to recount." ...read more.

Middle

Nowadays, we would expect many sound effects, lighting, and special effects features. As a modern-day audience, we would go to watch and experience the play as opposed to purely listening to it. Also, for a younger audience watching a Shakespeare play in modern times, it would be difficult to understand the dialogue and language so the method in which the plots and themes are put across have had to change over the past 300 years. Because the audience would understand the play more back then, they would have obviously had a closer relationship with the characters on-stage. As well as this, many of the audience would have been peasants paying just one penny to sit just below the stage, and consequently been in a similar social and financial position to The Mechanicals and brought that character-audience relationship closer. Puck or Robin Goodfellow's final speech directly engages and communicates with the audience. This, once more brings the characters and audience closer together, although it shatters the 'dream' that Shakespeare builds up all the way through the dream when the audience once more acknowledge that it is just a play. In our time, it would be considered highly rude and offensive to shout out during a play and make your opinion clear. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, when Titania gives in to Oberon again, everything becomes back to normal and even natural aspects of the play are positive once more. The Elizabethans felt apparently that order was absolutely necessary in the natural and the human world. They felt that your place in life and death was determined by God and God only. As mentioned previously, The Mechanicals represented the Elizabethan working class. In many of the interpretations up until the last century, these scenes starring the Mechanicals were ridden, as they were so unlike the others and signified everyday life. However; this was the lower class' way of understanding the play as they could relate to the prose that they spoke in and they were all in manual labour like the majority of this lower class. The Mechanicals would have been played by amateur actors originally to add realism. In conclusion, the social state of the country has changed in terms of sexism and discrimination and fewer and fewer people now live rurally, therefore these folk tales are less popular amongst society today. Culture has also changed as mentioned before about manners and politeness within a theatre. Interpretations of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" have been changing for the past 3 centuries and will probably continue to do so for another few more. SOCIAL, CULTURAL & HISTORICAL ASPECTS OF "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM" ...read more.

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