'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

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By Peter Yeung M51A

                                English Coursework Third Assignment

        I have read and studied ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, an enthralling romantic comedy that is still enjoyed. The play was thought to have been written in 1595 or 1596, by William Shakespeare. At the time Elizabeth I was on the throne and both the vulgar crowd and upper class enjoyed it. Shakespeare was not only popular because of his sharp wit, but anyone could relate to the stories in some way. I am going to direct the concluding sequence of events, with my own preference of stage setting and how characters act, in order to show how the play’s themes can be made clear and exciting in the theatre, using its resources.

        The themes that I shall outline are the pain and the pleasure of love, marriage, unity, superiority and transformation. The series of final events are very important to the story itself. The ending completely changes the genre of the story, from difficulty to serenity. When Titania and Oberon fell out it caused drastic human difficulties. It is like the world Super powers falling out, and having a nuclear war.

TITANIA: The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,

    The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn,

    Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.

Once Titania and Oberon are back together peace is restored, the couples join together in unity, as when before they were apart. Theseus and Hippolyta, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius unify in marriage. This unity may even be Shakespeare’s idea of representing the need for the National Unity of England; For England to join together to fight against the threatening Catholic forces of Europe.

Marriage is portrayed as a rite of passage; it gives us the idea of ‘standing on our own two feet’. In the 21st Century the first rite of passage for us is probably our driving license. We would no longer need to rely on our parent to take us around everywhere; we could drive ourselves wherever, whenever we want. This alarms our parents of our growing independence and stability, just as, here, the choice of a partner represents independence and plans for a future, and a future generation.

Love is shown to provide both great joy and also an exceptionally dangerous emotion. Love disrupts thoughts; it blurs thoughts that were once clear, it could split one generation from another. The pain that Helena must go through to gain her lover, Demetrius, as she follows him persistently, chasing the ever-elusive emotion, is a clear sign of that.

DEMETRIUS: Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?

                        Or rather do I not in the plainest truth

                       Tell you I do not, nor I cannot love you?

HELENA: And even for that do I love you the more.

                 I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,

                The more you beat me I will fawn on you.

Demetrius shows his feelings, unmistakably, while, despite his rebuff, Helena uses imaginative vocabulary, like ‘spaniel’ and ‘fawn’ that show her blind devotion to him. But, thanks to the spirits, at the end, when all faith is lost; she is finally married to Demetrius.

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Lastly, Transformation is a recurring theme throughout the play; the main story takes place in a forest, normally a place thought to be hazardous, with danger lurking about. However in this play, the forest is portrayed like a fairy tale. All of the main transformations occur here. Bottom is transformed into a beast, yet ironically Titania is also transformed, to someone that passionately and embarrassingly loves Bottom. Men who were once civil, Demetrius and Lysander, declare their love for the same woman, Helena, and at the same time loathe each other, as if the forest has an eerie and ...

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