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 mystical force, such as the spirits do, which manipulates and influences any who enter. Perhaps it stands for the experience of love, or growing up, with all its pains and difficulties.
The first main distinction between the characters in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is their speech. The Mechanics speak prose or pitifully bad verse; this implies that they have had a bad education and a poor upbringing. Their speech is very dull and clumsy showing that like their lives, they are the ordinary Athenian people; there is nothing special or supernatural about them. The mechanicals are very much an ordinary, mundane, tactless collection of individuals; for the great and joyous occasion of a wedding, those chose to act out a tragedy, in which one person commits suicide and a lion eats another. To portray a wall, once mechanicals stands with his arms out stretched with some cement dust spread laughably, showing how down to earth, and how unimaginative they are.
FLUTE: No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens.
QUINCE: Yea, and the best person, too; and he is a very paramour for a sweet voice.
The Aristocrats are a ‘level’ above the Mechanicals; the Aristocrats speak in a sophisticated way, using Shakespearean blank verse. Towards the start of the story Hermia and Helena are ‘in tune’ with each other. They even continue each other sentences rhyming, but after the many incidents that occur, they soon lose this closeness of response.
HERMIA: I frown upon him; yet he loves me still
HELENA: O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
By the middle of the play, in the transforming wood, what was once great friendship between Hermia and Helena, turned to disputes and antagonism. The forest seems almost spirit-controlled, it seems to drive a wedge between the two companions, and force them to dislike each other. Yet once out of the forest, the friendship recommences, no longer under control of some unknown power.
HERMIA: Methinks I see these things with parted eye, When everything seems double.
HELENA: And I have found Demetrius, like a jewel, mine own, and not mine own.
Lastly the spirits speak in the most superior manner; they cunningly rhyme in many ways and in all speech. They speak in short, sharp bursts, much similar the spirits, they have energetic and vigorous personalities. The spirits are treated like God himself, but they are pagan Gods. They act much like Paganism allows, rebellious, eccentric and very much hedonistic. At the time, England was a very right and proper, being a Christian country, where ‘worship’ of such ‘spirits’ as God would be contemptible. The spirits are very mischievous and marvel at the human world; they do whatever pleases them. With such great power that Oberon posses, he has the ability to alter the course of life, he has the ability to allow a baby to be born ideal or deformed.
OBERON: How long within this wood intend you stay?
TITANIA: Perchance until Theseus’ wedding day
Oberon makes many references to ‘field-dew’ and other natural phenomena. This implies that he is a creature of the forest, who regards the outdoors as his home. This is very respectable because he has chosen to stick with his roots. This is something that the human is incapable of; by reforming every few years for a new era, a new fashion, we are pitiful, compared to the wondrous and enviable spirits, who know their strengths and are secure in their setting and their power.
OBERON: With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gate.
This leads on to how I will set and dress my play; Oberon would be dressed very mystically and naturistic. However I shall go into greater detail later. Firstly, my set would be staged indoors, the centrepiece, a large richly furnished staircase heading up and away from the audience. There will be two places which you could exit the stairs; two small exits each side of the stairs, turning off to a hallway on both sides. On the left side there would be a slope going down and a large crystal chandelier hanging down from the ceiling. There would also be wires, on which the spirits could fly and also have elevated jumping. Also the spirits would all be in dark patches on the stage, when it came to them acting, they would be lighted up slowly, as if the materialised out of nowhere, when darkness falls.
My cast shall be clad in a suitable, yet modern style of outfits, some portraying their personalities, and others showing their stance of superiority, or inferiority. Puck would be dressed in a jester hat and also in a suit, half black and half white, split down the middle, implying his unpredictability, and also his split personality; sometimes loyal friendly servant, at other times a wild eccentric joker. Oberon would be dressed in many shades of green, wearing a rough material, which is very worn. With a large, extravagant crown, made out of exotic leaves, and green feathers. This would show Oberon’s love of nature and also his power signified by the crown. Titania would be dressed in yet another crown; however, this crown would be fluffy, encompassing bright red and fluorescent yellow. Her dress would be ragged, and multi-coloured, with many beads, and jewellery. Hermia would be clothed in light peach colour, looking well groomed, with polished nails and with her hair loose, but attractive. This would show Hermia’s relaxed attitude, and content mind. Helena would be dressed in red, high-heeled shoes, a short dress and bright lipstick. This would be because Helena is trying to entice Demetrius; the one she loves. Demetrius would be dressed in a stylish black tuxedo, this would also be to entice the one he loves, Hermia. But also the majority of black would also portray his coldness towards Helena.
The company enter the stage, two of them joyfully dancing around and in between everyone, and the others chattering excitedly, the two dancers would then stay onstage and the main group would temporarily go off.. I think that the two dancers should be Bottom and Flute, both strong contrasts. Bottom, being extremely clumsy, oafish and cumbersome, whereas Flute is towering, thin and exact. Bottom, however when dancing, tries to gain the attention of the crowd, by stamping his feet as hard as he can, yet inadvertently, tumbling over into many others. However, Flute would dance with very light steps and it would accompany the music. Then, they would slowly make their way across the stage to meet the main group again, messing about with each other and play fighting. As the company eventually leave the stage, Bottom gives a short wave and a large grin; cheek to cheek. The music slowly becomes quieter and eventually stops.
The three pairs of lovers make their way up to the bedrooms by climbing up some stairs. This signifying the end of their journey, and also that they are leaving the lair of the mechanicals, to better place; one-step closer to the spirits, and their domain. As the first couple, Theseus and Hippolyta, make their way up the stairs, correctly and with decorum, with their arms intertwined they gradually, step by step, make their way to the top with perfect synchronisation. Here, Theseus steps ahead, and opens the door politely; allowing Hippolyta to enter first, then gently shuts the door behind her. When entering the room, Theseus makes his way towards the curtains and closes them efficiently, and Hippolyta has her way with him.
The second couple, Hermia and Lysander, rush up the stairs, all over each other. They barge through the door, in unison; however, they unfortunately, catch their feet on the doorstep and collapse into a heap of tangled limbs. After a short amount of struggling, clothes fly out of the door, some reaching the audience. The couple then crawl towards the bed, forgetting to shut the door, and shut the curtains. But due to the sheer lust between the two, they continue on.
The third couple, Helena and Demetrius, briskly walk up the stairs, Helena slightly behind Demetrius, encouraging the slightly reluctant, young man. She then herds him towards the door, almost like a sheep, opens the door for him, and then forces Demetrius in. She then gives a cheeky smile as she enters the room, and tightly locks the door. Demetrius stares out of the window, towards the audience, with a slightly worried look on his face, but then Helena hurries over and slams the curtains shut.
From lines 349-368, puck speaks in a melodramatic tone. In a way that seems wise, yet spiteful. He arrives onstage, on top of a Hoover, with several people chasing him. He races across to the other side of the stage, you here a crash noise, and then he arrives back, still with a grin on his face. He declares that the spirits have ‘come out to play’, and also refers to ‘triple Hecate’s team’. Hecate was the goddess of witchcraft, yet another mention gives the spirits a more mystical, and sinister aura. However, this also reminds us of the traditional wood in a fairy-tale, like little Red Riding Hood.
PUCK: And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
As the play draws to an end, Oberon begins to speak verse in couplets. He speaks steadily, and with rhythm, which gives a closing effect. For each line he speaks, there is another to rhyme, for every beginning, there is an end. Yet again, unity is highlighted, as the couples join, everything pairs off, apart from Puck, he is left all alone, to ponder life.
OBERON: Never mole, harelip, nor scar,
Nor more prodigious, such as are
Despisèd in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
Oberon here uses the word ‘nativity’, and also ‘blessed’, these are very Christian words, however, the spirits aren’t Christian, they are pagan. Shakespeare may be implying, riskily, that not all good deeds must be Christian. The spirits are pagan, and yet they bless the three couples, and they promise that they shall have ‘perfect’ children. This may have been dangerous, at the time; however, this could simply be explained as the fair-tale ‘good fairy’, such as Cinderella’s godmother. Also, at the start of the sentence, Oberon uses the word ‘Never’; a word rarely used for this. It gives a stern impression, that no other word can, and also the feel for an impending conclusion.
In last section of speech, Puck comes out to the audience, to personally address them. He rejoins Oberon, and is content once again, however, Oberon leaves with Hippolyta and Puck is rejected. He walks up across the stage towards the audience and sits on the edge, with his bare feet hanging off. He feels relaxed now, almost like talking to a shrink; he leaves his energetic side, and talks freely. Here he ponders whether he should join the humans in their bizarre world, or go back with the spirits, to be rejected again. He gives a short weathered smile, unlike before with his beaming grins, his morale is slowly disintegrating, and he puts his head in his hands.
After once being at the brink of ‘destruction’, the fairy mentioned in Act 2, appears onstage. She sees Puck all alone, and walks across to him, and taps him on the shoulder. He replies with his trademark grin and jumps back to his feet, grabs the fairy’s hand and runs away, yet again pleased. The stage is then completely empty, and a pause where the audience feel that the end of the dream has arrived, and that they are privileged to have viewed this play, like Bottom was transformed, they had been transformed, from normal monotonous life, to fortunate onlookers of this fantasy spirit world.