SUMMER 2021

Final Assignment: Read/View “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Post a Response (Due: Thurs. July 1)

Hi Everyone,

 I have completed reviewing your letters on a current issue (Assignment #2). After reviewing my edits and suggestions, please revise these letters (using the same document).

We finish the summer session in high style and grand fun.  I ask that you read (and then watch) William Shakespeare’s extraordinary play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Written in 1596 (one year after  “Romeo and Juliet”), the play is a brilliant and zany exploration of true love, true hate, and the arbitrariness of human emotions. As Puck, the mischievous spirit, famously says: “What Fools These Mortals Be”!

I. Watch my video lecture “Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age,” which introduces the play.

II.  Read  William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1596)

If you prefer, here is a modern text translation of the play. You can read the modern translation next to Shakespeare’s original text.

III. View: Film adaptation of the play (1968) by the Royal Shakespeare Company (on Amazon Prime).  I recommend watching the film with the SUBTITLES to fully enjoy Shakespeare’s magnificent language.

I also recommend the NYC “Shakespeare in the Park” production (1982):  (Midsummer Night’s Dream Part I,  PART TWO  . This is free.

IV. Post a Response to a speech, scene, character, theme, or other dramatic element that you find particularly intriguing.  I’m also very interested to hear your thoughts on the fantastic film (and/or play) version of the work.  Did you enjoy the film (or play as it was acted)?  What scenes/which actors did you like the best? BE SURE YOU DON’T REPEAT WHAT A PREVIOUS STUDENT HAS WRITTEN.  DON’T USE OUTSIDE SOURCES FOR THIS. I WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK.  The modern text translation of the play may be helpful here.

REMINDER: To post a comment, simply click on “comments” (above), write comment, and “post”

Possible themes and topics to consider (be sure to provide quotes to support your assertions):

  • The challenges (frustrations and humiliations) of love
  • The role of dreams (and the forest) as representative of the human subconscious
  • Puck’s love of mischievousness (the role of the troublemaker or “trickster” figure)
  • Transformation (theatre/art as chance to view alternative possibilities) (human fickleness)
  • Reason vs. unreason (desire) as opposing forces
  • The natural world (of chaos and play) set against the urban world (of laws and obedience)
  • Gender/power issues in the play (how is power over others played out?)
  • Analysis of the play-within-the-play (what’s so funny about Bottom’s group of actors? What role does it play?)
  • The moon as a symbol of “lunacy” – Night vs. Day as symbolism
  • Inconstancy vs. constancy (who stays true to themselves? who changes affections regularly?)
  • Illusion vs. reality (how does the play help viewers distinguish between each?)
  • There’s some intriguing “climate issues” in the play.  When Titania and Oberon do not get along, their negative energy has disastrous  effects on the weather (storms, droughts, and floods). See Act 2, Scene 1 lines 90-100 especially.

52 Comments

  1. Mark Noonan

    The post is due June 30. This is your last assignment for the summer session. Thanks for catching this.

  2. Nadja

    In William Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the author portrays the development of intricate love stories, in which the characters show changes of behaviour under different circumstances. The characters don’t find themselves in these circumstances by accident, but rather they are partially produced by the various choices of each individual, when Lysander and Hermia decide to run away and meet in the forest, followed by Demetrius and Helena. There is also a theme of general confusion and chaos, as the correlation to a dream is constant, to the point that not only the characters, but myself, the reader, can’t clearly distinguish what is real and what is an illusion.
    Throughout the play I was intrigued by some of the characters’ actions and reactions, especially those of Hermia and Helena, who, as the only two characters not under a spell, show their real nature when put under a challenging situation.

    Hermia seems the most confident of the characters, although she loses some of that security when Lysander, under the spell of the magic juice, abandons her in favor of her friend Helena. Hermia seems gentle and respectful of Lysander and their relationship, and cautious, when she decides to sleep apart from him. She seems impulsive and driven by passion, when she decides to run away with Lysander, despite the fact that she would lose her father’s trust. Her insecurities come to the surface when she is put under a test during Lysander’s enchantment. She gets frustrated and feels offended by both Lysander and Helena when he makes a comment on her darker skin and calls her “Tartar”, a gypsy, considered inferior to lighter skin. Helena manages to make her lose her patience by mocking her about her height. I was surprised to hear that in the 16th century people already started insulting one another based on their appearance or physical differences. This clearly shows how at the time looks also played a big part in the attraction to one another, but is opposed by Tatiana’s conduct. Even if through a love potion, she falls in love with Bottom, whose head was transformed into a donkey, and shows how beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and could embody the concept of “love is blind”.

    Helena is obsessed with Demetrius and her obsession is even more fueled by his rejection. She represents the impulses of love carried to exaggeration. She desperately tries to receive Demetrius’s recognition by chasing him, even if he continuously insults her. Perhaps it is that “abuse” that she suffers under him that feeds her obsession even more. This seems to personify the self-destructive kind of love and the fact that, when you love, all the restraints and self-control are disregarded. He feels no compassion whatsoever in dissing her, and despite that she is the one that pities herself, completely self-aware of her misery. She becomes even more insecure when all of a sudden both Lysander and Demetrius fall in love with her – “Can you not hate me, as I know you do, But you must join in souls to mock me too? Her insecurity becomes so emphasized at this point that she feels tricked and provoked, and believes they planned a conspiracy against her. In the name of love, Helena also becomes a traitor, revealing the secret of Elena and Lysander’s escape to Demetrius. She also represents the breaking of a pattern, the one that sees the man always being the hunter of the woman – the prey, when Helena chases Demetrius, the roles are reversed. Perhaps, that is why he never could fall in love with her, because she has taken the role of a chaser and is trying to get his attention. I believe that most of the time, when there is a case of obsessive behavior, the true feeling behind it is not even love anymore, rather an infatuation provoked by someone’s indifference and the consequent need for validation and recognition. In my opinion, this is a case of ego and pride, and the inability to accept the fact that somebody doesn’t want us back. For me, her character was the most interesting to analyze. It is because of her that Demetrius goes into the forest in the first place, from which point chaos erupts. She seemed so doomed to failure, however, if you take a second look, you might come to the conclusion that Shakespeare wanted to express that if you firmly believe in love, it will come true as you wish and that you should never give up, no matter how hopeless and anguishing a situation appears.

    I found it amusing and also a bit confusing at the end of the comedy, when the artisans play their piece in front of the wedding community. The action takes place in ancient Babylon and revolves around the couple Pyramus and Thisbe, that almost coincides to the story of Hermia and Demetrius. Despite the happy ending of their love story, the one played by the craftsmen ends with a character killing himself. Robin apologizes to the audience maybe in a cunning way or in an honest way, saying that if they didn’t like the play or if it offended them, they can pretend it was all a dream, almost wanting to confuse them even more and and maybe allude that he is the manufacturer of their disorientation and perplexity.

    • Mark Noonan

      This a thorough and thoughtful reply to many key aspects of this extraordinary play. I like your delving into Helena and Hermia’s psychological natures and emphasis on the disorientation of the play. Your opening paragraph connects well with your final intriguing commentary on the the plays joyful perplexity. Nice done.

  3. Ameer

    The role of dreams (and the forest) as representative of the human subconscious.

    In William Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I find Act 2 Scene 2 particularly intriguing because this was one of the scenes where some of the rising actions take place in the forest. What happened was, Titania fairies sing her asleep and Oberon places the flower on her eyes. Then Hermia and Lysander went to sleep in the grass and Robin Mistaken used the flower Lysander because Bobin was sure who was the “Athenian man”. Later Demetrius and Helena enter the play. This was where Helena saw Hermia and Lysander; Helena thought Lysander was hurt but Lysander ended up falling in love with Hermia. Helena thinks Lysander was making fun of her and runs away. Lysander then follows. When hermia wakes up she goes searching for Lysander. This happened because Robin mistakenly places the flower juice on the wrong lover’s eyes. For example on page 4 of Act 2 Scene 2 it says “I’ve been through the entire forest, but I haven’t found any Athenian man to use the flower on. (he sees LYSANDER and HERMIA) Wait a second, who’s this? He’s wearing Athenian clothes. This must be the guy who rejected the Athenian girl. And here’s the girl, sleeping soundly on the damp and dirty ground. Pretty girl! She shouldn’t lie near this rude and heartless man. (he puts flower juice on LYSANDER ’s eyelids) Jerk, I throw all the power of this magic charm on your eyes. When you wake up, let love keep you from going back to sleep. Wake up when I’m gone, because now I have to go to Oberon.” I will say this all happened because of Oberon, since he didn;t get what he wanted. Now Helena is loved by the wrong man and the man Hermia loves no longer loves her. In the end of Act 2 Scene 2 Herima dreams of a snake “(waking up) Help me, Lysander, help me! Get this snake off of my chest. Oh, my God! What a terrible dream I just had! Lysander, look how I’m shaking from fear. I thought a snake was eating my heart while you sat smiling and watching.” I believe this is foreshadowing what will happen in Act 3 (Falling action).

    This play was different from Shakespeare’s other plays because there was a happy ending, inserted of a tragic death. (Hemlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet).

    • Mark Noonan

      You do a good job here, Ameer, discussing the wild goings-on in the forest — and connecting it to the subconscious or dreams we all have.

  4. Devante R Moore

    “The course of true love never did run smooth,” (Lysander)

    Shakespeare explores how people tend to fall in love with those who appear beautiful to them. Lysander is the first to be possessed and falls in love with Helena, after Demetrius falls in love with Helena. Helena is shocked and thinks she is being fooled by Hermia. Hermia starts by having to leave home to be with her true love, but at the end of the play the Duke allows her to marry Lysander and she stays in Athens. Hermia and Lysander get married in a triple ceremony with Helena and Demetrius and the Duke and his lady, Hippolyta. The play ends with the fairies blessing their marriage beds. So, at least for Lysander and Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a wonderful, happy ending. Theseus is asked to intervene when Egeus realizes that his daughter Hermia is in love with Lysander instead of Demetrius, the man he wants her to marry. Theseus reminds Hermia that she has no will of her own in the matter, and instead should be following her father’s. Hermia completely disagrees. We see the same problem in that Helena wants to marry Demetrius, but he wants to marry Hermia since her father has requested him. Demetrius did love Helena until Egeus interfered. It is downhill from there. Although in the end everyone ends up happy, they could have avoided pain by letting others make choices instead of forcing them on them.

    • Mark Noonan

      I like your choice of quote here, Devante, as well as your discussion of the “unsmooth” run of love in the play.

  5. Aalaa

    In the opening scene, Theseus and Hippolyta are interrupted by Egeus. He is angry with his daughter Hermia because she refuses to marry Demetrius, the person he wants her to marry. Instead, she wants to marry Lysander who has wooed her without Egeus’ permission. Egeus uses an ancient law that states if she doesn’t marry his choice of husband she can be put to death. After hearing from Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander, Theseus announces that Hermia must marry Demetrius or be put to death.

    When I heard about this “law”, it reminded me of how in some countries there are similar laws and strict rules about arranged marriages. While these situations happen much more often in Arab countries, it is still a common practice in other parts of the world. If the daughter does not marry the husband her father has chosen for her, she can face consequences such as death or other severe penalties. In areas where death might be too severe, women even get kicked out of the house and the daughter-father relationship perishes, as the father sees his daughter as disobedient.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very interesting connection to gender laws in Arab countries, Aalaa.

  6. xuhui deng

    In a nutshell, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is centered on the marriage of Duke Theseus, and consists of the love entanglement of two young men and women, the reconciliation between the Elf King and the Princess, and a group of workers in Athens who present a play for the wedding of the Duke. In this book, the most impressive and touching to my heart is love, the love of the fervor and hypocrisy.

    The fervor grows in many forms in the hearts of different lovers. Theseus wooed Hippolyta with his sword, won her heart with his mighty aggression, and celebrated his wedding with pomp, pageantry, and revelry. It was a frenzy of violence, lust for power and vanity. Hermia’s disobedient father for Lysander, who prefers to choose between the death penalty and becoming a nun, is the frenzy of purity and courage. Helene is even more interesting. She goes out of her way to betray her friend Hermia by telling Demetrius that Hermia is going to elope with Lysander, just to have one more chance to see Demetrius. But what does her beloved Demetrius do to her? “Do I ask you to follow me? Do I speak to you kindly? Don’t I tell you in the clearest terms that I do not. Don’t I tell you in the clearest terms that I do not and cannot love you?”, “I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes, And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.” And how does Helene respond to him? “Yes, but that makes me love you even more. I’m your little dog, Demetrius. The more you beat me, the more I’ll love you. Treat me like you would treat a dog—kick me, hit me, neglect me, try to lose me. Just let me follow behind you, even though I’m not good enough for you. Could I ask for a worse place in your heart than to be treated as you would treat a dog? And yet I would consider it an honor to be your dog.” As I read this I thought, OMG, why be so humble for love. Humble and reckless to the point that I feel sorry for her. As for Titania, who is drugged by her husband. She falls in love with Bottom, who is dressed like an ass, and she says to Burton, who looks like an ass and sings a stupid song: “I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. So is mine eye enthrallèd to thy shape. And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me. On the first view to say, to swear, I view to say, to swear, I love thee.” It is sublimity and blind fervor.

    How about hypocrisy? After the pixie forced the wrong person to drip flower juice on Lysander’s eyes, Lysander’s love for his previously beloved lover immediately dissipated. Look at his dialogue with his old and new lovers: “You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray! These vows are Hermia’s. Will you give her o’er? Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh. Your vows to her and me, put in two scales, Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.” LYSANDER: “I had no judgment when to her I swore.” Then looking at the predecessor – Hermia, LYSANDER(to HERMIA) “Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose. Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent.”, “Get you gone, you dwarf, You minimus of hindering knotgrass made, You bead, you acorn!”. This is a stark contrast to the beginning where they are in deep love with each other. This is not the only case, love dissipates and arises so randomly. It is true with the magic potion, but also in the absence of magic potion – Demetrius was once fascinated by Helene, once the love dissipated in an instant after he met Hermia. It can be based on beauty and dissipated after the appearance of a more beautiful face; it can be generated out of goodwill and dissipated after the attack on the city, finally took the heart and played the trumpet of victory; it can be just because of the illusion of mischief, dissipated after waking up from a big dream, is full of wishful thinking of the empty thing. Therefore, fervor and delusion are originally two sides of the same coin, together.

    “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a good illustration of the blindness of love, and the fickleness of the so-called deep love, vows and strong love. The book satirizes the short-sightedness of the martyrs, the fools and the faithful. They think that what they see and perceive is the truth itself, but in fact, human emotions are always a bit blind and stubborn. I didn’t understand at first why it was called a drama, but later I realized that it was the spectators who were happy and the characters who were sad.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very interesting reading, Xuhui, of the complex theme of love and hypocrisy in this play. I liked your opening line: “the most impressive and touching to my heart is love, the love of the fervor and hypocrisy.”

  7. Jane Won (Jung)

    In a play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” written by William Shakespeare writes about four Athenians’s complicated love story. In the play, love seems like it is not really a “love”. Shakespeare showed that people tend to fall in love with appearance rather than their heart. However, with true love, physical attraction is not important. Also, Shakespeare showed that love is not consistent and it is changeable. When Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius entered a Fairy woods, the love story becomes nightmare. The love potion plays an important role when it comes to fake love. When love potion is dropped into the Lysander’s eyes, the first person he saw was Helena and he gets attracted to her. This is a fake love since Lysander loves Hermia. This showed that love is always changeable. Same situation goes to Demetrius. Demetrius does not love Helena but, with the love potion, he fell into fake love with Helena with his first sight. In the end of the play, Demetrius speaks “But by some power it is-my love to Hermia, melted as the snow, seems to me now as the remembrance of an idle gaud which in my childhood I did dote upon”(151). This quote have desolated me as I was reading through the story because it seems so easy to change someone’s feeling or their emotion towards someone else.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very interesting discussion on the theme of changing love. Your choice of quote and discussion of it is also excellent.

  8. Tatiana Ribeiro

    “I wish I could say that I liked this play”
    (Tatiana Ribeiro)

    I wish I could say that I liked this play. In all fairness, while I did enjoy the elaborate language constructs, sophisticated similes and metaphors, ornate rhymes and stylish beat, I could not stop thinking about the terrible fate of all female characters depicted in the play. From the main characters of Hippolyta, Hermia, and Helena, to the secondary character of the fairy queen Titania, to the tales of mischievous elves and goblins cheerily boasting about tormenting old village women and maiden laborers, – all women everywhere are being treated as property, brutalized, disrespected, made fun of, not taken seriously, punished for love, by love, because of love, as well as for being too beautiful, not beautiful enough, too old, too young, too strong, too weak, too independent, or too clingy. It seems no matter which circumstance a woman character finds herself in this play – there is no mercy on her.

    The unfavorable treatment of women is prevalent throughout the play and is evident even through metaphors, describing unpleasant things. From the very first verses we are faced with the following:
    Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
    Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
    Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
    This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
    Like to a step-dame or a dowager

    Long withering out a young man revenue.

    Even the moon itself, when not making the time run fast enough for a dominant human male who is eager to take possession of a woman, is frowned upon in impatience and being compared to an old woman, who is staying alive longer than is convenient for the young heir to her riches, thus holding up a young man’s fortune. Perhaps I am looking too deep into things, but in my worldview, the choice of metaphors says a lot about the author’s inner world of feelings and subconscious attitudes.

    Of course, we must understand that in this example it is the character, Theseus, speaking; who is a mythical master warrior, king, and a founder-hero of Athens; who brutalized an Amazonian queen Hippolyta by conquering her in battle, enslaving her, and making her his chosen wife-to-be. Evidently this character does not suffer from excessive compassion, so the author must speak for him accordingly. But what about Hippolyta herself? The only verse we hear from her the entire first scene is when she tries to assure her soon-to-be-husband to trust that the time of their wedding will come soon enough. Even after we are introduced to Hermia, her father, and two rivals for Hermia’s hand in marriage, who appear to ask Theseus to weigh in his authoritative opinion regarding Hermia’s immediate fate, Hippolyta does not voice out any opinions regarding this situation at all. Poor Hermia is presented with an impossible choice: marry Demetrius whom she does not love but who has her father’s blessings, leave society forever and become a celibate nun if she does not marry according to her father’s will, or die for disobeying her father’s will; all the while she is in love with Lysander who swears to love her equally. Clearly the author did not think that Hippolyta might have an opinion of her own regarding the horribly unfair treatment of this poor young girl, so he does not include Hippolyta in this conversation at all. I do not reckon that such disinterest of this character in another woman’s fate came from Shakespeare’s ability to identify with real women and the way they reasoned. I am willing to bet that women were always much more compassionate to one another than a lot of male authors of the past were able to portrait. Hence, it is difficult for me to enjoy a piece of literature that presents such flat and unrealistic women characters as in “The Midsummer Night’s Dream” fully; if only for the sake of literature itself.

    Later in the same scene we are introduced to Helena: another tormented young girl, who had been seduced and abandoned by Demetrius, who is now pursuing Hermia, Helena’s school friend. In the first scene already, we see three young women that are victims of circumstances and men’s’ whims. Helena, desperately in love with Demetrius, confesses to Hermia how she would love to have her appearance, her voice, her eyes, that Demetrius love so much: here we see the refusal of own identity, admission of own inadequacy, devaluation of own beauty:
    Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.

    Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
    Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
    More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
    When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
    Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
    Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
    My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
    My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
    Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
    The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
    O, teach me how you look, and with what art
    You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.

    When Hermia confesses to Helena her plan to run away with Lysander, Helena decides to betray her and tell Demetrius only because that would give Helena an opportunity to follow Demetrius while he attempts to find Hermia. Here we see a total lack of fellowship between two girl-friends, who used to share secrets and exchange dreams, because a man shows up and prefers one over the other. Does not really work that way in real friendship. So again, we see that women friendship is not highly regarded by the author, and women are portraited as someone who does not care to uphold the value of friendly vows. No honor in a woman’s word found here.

    Of course, I understand that this piece was written hundreds of years ago, when social issues like women’s rights were not even in sight, and it seems to me, people are used to thinking that women are rivals by nature, who are jealous over men and good looks of other women. But has it really ever been so, or has it only been portraited so by male writers who did not bother to find out what women actually felt? This is a speculative question, but I tend to think that women’s sudden fellowship that united them in recent history to fight for their rights is not so sudden: why would a group of people suddenly develop a kinship strong enough to overturn patriarchal order and demand equality? Perhaps because this kinship had been always there to begin with? Perhaps the “common knowledge” that women are jealous rivals that see more value in a man’s desire than friendship amongst each other has really been the way men would want it to be? Perhaps that is why we see such poor and shallow representation of women in this play? These are questions I started asking myself as I was reading it.

    I also found the representation of love in this play extremely naïve, childish, irresponsible, harmful, and easily manipulated. I understand that it is meant to be a fantasy, the world where elves, fairies, half-gods, and goblins actively interfere into human life, as it is based on ancient Greek myths. While women are being shamed, blackmailed, and punished for their feelings and situations they find themselves in, men do not seem to be held accountable for what they had done. Demetrius is not being criticized by Theseus for seducing Helena earlier, Lysander is not being held accountable for casually spending time in the company of Theseus at the end of the play, even after Theseus nearly let Hermia be either killed or become a nun as punishment for her love for Lysander…

    The end of the play got me totally confused: somehow, after a delirious night in the woods either by magic spell or a collective lucid dream, Demetrius resolves into loving Helena, and refusing Hermia, and everyone seems to be just fine to be celebrating with Theseus on his wedding day, after he nearly destroyed their lives. Hippolyta has a whole lot to say about the silly play by unprofessional peasants, while still not once questioning her despotic lover’s morals and what pain he intended to inflict on an innocent girl. Everyone takes a laughter at the grotesque suffering of the unfortunate troupe on stage, which in and of itself is also cruel, while no one questions Theseus, or Hermia’s father for causing all four young people to flee Athens in the middle of the night. All conflicts are suddenly considered resolved, all because Demetrius decided to give up Hermia.

    I have to be honest; I could not find much enjoyment in this piece except its literary mastery and historical significance that makes Shakespeare’s works the heritage of The English Language development. The morals of this play are extremely questionable for me, and I do not find most of it applicable or relevant to my understanding of human relationships. Thus, I consider this play outdated and not useful. Nowadays, these kind of stories of uncontrollable lust, betrayal and blind outrage, performed by flat, shallow characters are typical of cheap reality TV shows and fights in the Instagram and YouTube comments sections. These stories can also be entertaining, but rarely, if ever, do they offer any valuable lessons or examples.

    • Itay

      I never even noticed the fate of the female characters until you pointed it out. Thank you so much because I now see the play through a different lens. It is so interesting to realize how normalized misogyny is in literature that we don’t even notice it.

      • Tatiana Ribeiro

        Itay,

        I appreciate you sharing your impression of my post, and feel grateful for being able to broaden your perspective a little. I sympathize with your point regarding “normalized misogyny” in literature. Which is not to say that we should not read such literature, as it is useful to know how human society has advanced since then. I often say that the level of society’s development can be determined by the level of freedom women have within it. Since women are physically more vulnerable, it takes a complex understanding of mutual benefit of letting the weaker ones have a comfortable life. When society reaches such an understanding, it signifies the general level of compassion and willingness to cooperate with one another for the benefit of all, and not just the strong ones. And generally, nowadays, societies that allow women to be free, enjoy higher levels of prosperity and justice than those, that still try to enslave, and otherwise force women into submission.

        • Itay

          Tatiana, I agree with you. I’m sure that even 100 years ago in US when women suffragettes were fighting for the right to vote this type of commentary on “A Midsummernight’s Dream” was rare, even among the most enlightened women and men. Although there is always work to be done, we are lucky to be living in a time and place when we have the opportunity (and therefore obligation) to notice and discuss these themes and trends in literature. This was my first time reading Shakespeare but I am going to pay attention to how women are presented in different eras and places in literature. Now that I see this pattern, I can’t “unsee” it!!!

    • Mark Noonan

      Tatania,

      In line with Itay’s commentary, you do a masterful feminist reading of this play. You make very valid points about the misogyny in the play and help the modern viewer look at it in a different perspective, particularly in light of current developments in the last few years. I commend you on this enlightening and well-supported post. Shakespeare does at times present strong, empowered women in his work– but not as you point out — in this particular play.

      • Tatiana Ribeiro

        Professor,

        I appreciate your feedback. As I was writing my response to this play, I started looking into the question of female characters’ integrity in arts of the past in general, and the way performing arts, literature, and other artistic societies look at it nowadays. I found out that women were not even allowed to be actors in Elizabethan England, and all female roles were played by young male actors at that time. Hence, it is not untypical for plays of that era to feature female characters as seen by men only. Women could not pursue careers, including arts, as they were not allowed into schools and universities until well into the end of 18th century, so men controlled the way women were portrayed in arts. One-sided view of things always lacks depth and context, so it is not surprising that these characters are so detached from reality. To your point about Shakespeare’s stronger, more empowered women in hi other works: I read an article that explores how his female characters became more complex, more realistic, and more developed towards the end of his writing career, perhaps due to some life experience he had had with women in his lifetime. This particular play, however, is not one of those that features such female characters. An interesting read nonetheless, if only for a historical discourse into a popular entertainment of the 16th century.

        • Mark Noonan

          Great points Tatania. In my theatre course, I also feature the great Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) and works by Lynn Nottage, two powerful playwrights who take up some of the issues you raise and feature strong female leads that majestically counter a male-dominated world.

  9. Chad

    “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” written by William Shakespeare had dealt with cases of power, and complicated choices/actions. At first in Act 1 Scene 1 we are shown that fathers have complete control over their daughters love intrest, to the point that if the daugther refuses they will be killed, or turn into a nun and will never see or marry a man forever. What’s crazy about this is that it’s also a Law within this society. In scene 1 Theseus talks to Hermia telling her “Think carefully, pretty girl. You should think of your father as a god, since he’s the one who gave you your beauty. To him, you’re like a figure that he’s sculpted out of wax, and he has the power to keep that figure intact or to disfigure it.” This qoute shows that a daughter has to completely accept the path that the father deicdes her for, and rejection can just lead to straight up losing everything.

    Lysander tells Hermia that the only way they can truly be with one another in peace is them to run away due to the fact that they don’t have a power to say or do since Egus controls the enitre relationships.In doing so Hermia tells her best friend Helena about this plan to never return and to never get married with Demetruis, however due to Helena having a absolute obbession over Demetruis she thinks and believes that if she can tell this to Demetruis, he will get over Hermia and fall in love with Helena. This part right here of the scene was really the trigger to love makes you do crazy things, all in honesty running away is what i assume many Athens women do when they are forced to get married, but I believe that Hermia shouldn’t had told that to anybody she was leaving forever but since she had a friend who she thought she could’ve trusted I can understand why she said it. But I find it insane that the humliation and hardship Helena dealt with wanting Demetruis she still loved him!?!? When Helen said to Demetrius “Yes, you already hurt me in the church, in the town, and in the fields. Shame on you, Demetrius! Your behavior is an insult to all women. We cannot fight for love as men can. We should be pursued and courted. We weren’t made to do the pursuing. I’ll follow you and turn this hell I’m in into a kind of heaven. It would be heavenly to be killed by someone I love so much.” Helena knows and understand she’s in a horrible momment in her life but she doesn’t care.

    But the part that made everything just complete complicated was when Lysander had been dose with a love poition from a fairy and fell in love with Helena, and not Hermia and just completely was highly unatractive to Hermia from that point on and caused Helena to be completely confused, and to even make matters worse Demetruis also had the same fate and loved Helena. Basically what had happen to Hermia where two people loved her, the same people who loved her rejects her and instead loves Helena now, and honestly I thought that was a great twsit in the scene and I personally enjoyed how the reverse love happen. But in the end everybody was with one another and was happy. Personally I really enjoyed how Power was the main issue of this story, if fathers weren’t able to control their daughters life I believe Hermia and Lysander would’ve never done the whole running away idea, but in contrast if that was the case Demetrius and Helena both wouldn’t had been happy which would’ve sucked honestly. I also enjoyed all of the characters but if I had to pick one it would be Lysander because his character is funny, when aruging with Demetrius he states that “Her father loves you, Demetrius. So why don’t you marry him and let me have Hermia?”Basically implying that Demetruis also loves the Egus, and when Lysander and Hermia was walking in the woods he states “My love, you look like you’re about to faint from wandering in the woods for so long, and to tell you the truth, I’ve gotten us lost.” This was funny because Love makes you do complication choices/actions Lysander was just saying anything on the top of his mind and him saying let’s go to the woods and run away from here, and having no plan or idea on how he’s going to get pass the woods was just extremely funny to me.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very interesting reading Chad on the complex power dynamics in this play, which you so ably dissect.

    • Sheen

      Your explanation was really helpful for me to understand the play.

  10. Itay

    Before starting my analysis of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I would like to share that I struggled with this assignment. When I started to read and watch William Shakespeare’s famous play, I could not understand a single word of the original text, or either version of the film. As a child in Israel, I learned English from watching cartoons like “Thundercats” and “Tom and Jerry.” My adult and professional English comes from watching science programs on The Discovery Channel or YouTube. There was not one phrase that sounded like anything I have ever heard or seen before in a cartoon or documentary.

    This was my first exposure to literature, especially written in Old English from the 1500s. It was more difficult for me to understand this language than it is for me to read ancient Biblical texts in the original Hebrew from more than 2000 years ago (which are also much more difficult to understand than modern Hebrew)! I watched the “Shakespeare in the Park” production of the film, but only after reading the SparkNotes modern translation of the text. Without that translation, I would not have understood the film or the original text at all. However, I understand the artistic value of the exposure to the original language even if I could not understand most of it. I also appreciate the simplified language in the modernized text, because it gave me access to an entertaining and timeless piece. With the simplified translation and a careful reading of the summaries of each scene, I was able to appreciate the acting because it brought to life the atmosphere and backdrop of the magical forest setting.

    The theme which resonated most for me was the climate issues which emerged from the arguments between Queen of the Fairies Titania and King of the Fairies Oberon in Act 2, Scene 1. In lines 67-103 Titania responds to Oberon’s accusations of infidelity due to her love for the mortal Theseus, the Duke of Athens. Titania states, “But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport./Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,/As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea/75Contagious fogs, which falling in the land/ Have every pelting river made so proud/That they have overborne their continents./The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,/The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn/80Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.” This section and the lines which follow describe all of the effects of what we today call climate change which stresses farmers and animals – cold summers and hot winters, extreme temperatures, flooded rivers and seas, animal disease, and rotted crops.

    The entire play revolves around intersecting and twisted love triangles between people, fairies, and royalty (both of the fairy world and the human world), as well as the magic potions which twist and untwist these stories in unexpected directions. Queen Titania complains that King Oberon’s arguments and accusations have prevented her and her fairies from their normal playful activities such as dancing in the wind. She suggests that the joy and pleasures of the fairy world are the source of energy which flows from the supernatural world to regulate the rhythms of the natural world. Interrupting or disrupting this source of pleasure-energy from the fairy world disrupts the harmony of the natural order flowing into the mortal world, leading to natural disaster and death.

    It is interesting to consider Titania’s conclusion that arguments and negativity in the Fairy world disrupt the natural order of the human world. As a farmer I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of climate change through rising temperatures, natural disasters, droughts, insects, and changing weather patterns on crops. Similar to Titania, I believe that negativity in the form of disrespect for the earth and one another results in earth, air and ocean pollution; excessive waste; exploitation of animals and fish. When there is a lack of respect for ourselves and for humankind, there is also a lack of respect for animals and earth. Positive thoughts and behaviors lead to creation, collaboration, and improvements. Negative thoughts and behaviors lead to destruction and deterioration.

    However, unlike Titania, I previously believed that these outcomes were the direct and sole result of the negative or careless thoughts and actions of humans alone. Titania assigns full responsibility to the fairy world, telling Oberon that disruption of cycles of the human and natural world are due to Oberon’s disruption of the flow of fairy pleasures. She overlooks the fact that the parallel and intersecting love stories of the infidelities, jealousies, and arguments of the human world may also contribute to the disruption or destruction of nature.

    My modern day explanation of the cause of climate change, and Titania’s ancient (or Shakespeare’s Medieval) explanation, assign fault to a single force – humans or fairies. This scene highlights another possibility. The relationships and discordance between mankind, fairies (or other unexplainable or unseen forces), and nature are carefully balanced. Infidelity and dissonance in the human, fairy/spiritual/supernatural, and natural worlds have always been interconnected, and affect the other worlds, most visibly manifesting to humans as crop failure, plagues, and death.

    Overall, I enjoyed this play and especially this section because I have never before considered the fact that conflict in the fairy world (or other factors which we cannot see or perceive) might also be contributing to dissonance and climate change we see today in nature.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent, honest discussion of the challenges — and eventually rewards (hopefully!) — of reading this play, Itay. Your ecological reading of the play (the destruction of the planet that ensues when things get out of sync with Oberon and Hippolyta) and the magnificent quote you cite are really interesting, particularly in this age of climate change. Fun and smart and very topical discussion.

  11. Ashley salazar

    In the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespere, the big concept of the play is love and not being able to make their own decisions for themselves. This was my first time reading and I liked it but it also was straight forward of the different message it was giving. At the beginning of the play the role of the women, how they couldn’t make their own choices and men had much more of the last say and having more power in general such as when Egus the father is mad about his daughter hermina not wanting to marry Demetrius and if she doesn’t he’ll have no choice but to execute his own daughter. This quote from Act 1,Scene1,Pg 3 shows a way of threat that Theseus gives to Hermina. “A married woman is like a rose who is picked and made into a beautiful perfume, while a priestess just withers away on the stem.”. When they said “That’s why they say love is a child” it’s describing how childish love is and can be misleading such as when Hermina had both of the guys fall in love with her while her sister was also in love with one of them.

    • Mark Noonan

      Interesting feminist reading of this play, Ashley. I also liked your choice of quote in regards to how “childish” love can sometimes seem.

  12. Emily Hu

    I’ve always had trouble reading old English and although this was my second time reading this play, I still found it difficult in terms of comprehension. Like mentioned by my fellow classmate, Tatiana, I do not appreciate how women are depicted in this play especially during this time period. Although I must understand that in this time period, men felt superiority towards women and women were seen beneath them, it is difficult to read a play so demanding towards women. An example is the character Egenus, the father of Hermia, who consistently displays himself as an alphamale character throughout the play. He uses his own daughter to his advantage. After Hermis refuses to marry the man her father set her up to be with, she is immediately labeled as stubborn and she is legally supposed to listen to her father and be obedient towards him. He claims in Act 1 Scene 1 that Lysander ”bewitch’d her and ‘filch’d her heart” when Hermia develops feelings towards him. He believes that Hermia cannot think for herself and she must need a man to make decisions for her as she cannot make good choices on her own. Egenus goes as far as wanting to kill his own daughter because she wants to marry someone she actually had feelings for, not someone arranged by her father. Almost like modern day arranged marriage in specific religions and cultures, it is unfortunate that women still have to face this. The misogynist labelling towards women being forced a fate upon them and then seen as disobedient when wanting a different outcome in life is all too common in literature. Women are seen as property or being owned and not as human beings.

    Another example of misogyny is also in Act 1 Scene 1 when Theseus says, “Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword, and won thy love doing thee injuries”. This line states that because Theseus has won a fight, or a war, that is the reason why a woman fell in love with him. He tries to imply that because of his strength in battle, it made Hippolyta wooed and fall in love with him. As mentioned before, women are seen as property or as the origin of the term, “trophy wife” which is a woman that married the man based on their accomplishments. Was it so far-fetched to say that Theseus truly believed that because he is a strong fighter, he is entitled to force someone to be with them or to marry them because of a battle he won. Unfortunately this too can be looked at in the modern day world that men who are seen as successful, feel like they can choose which women should marry them and through arrange marriage between the male figure and father, this can happen without approval of the women. Although this play did have good parts, it was hard to look past the misogyny, disrespect of the female characters, and as well as choosing dark fate for the female leads.

    • Mark Noonan

      Emily, You make very good points and cite excellent supporting lines that buttress your (and other students’) argument about the unfortunate misogyny of this play. A very thought-provoking reading of this play.

  13. Matthew

    I sighed while reading this play much like Helena; a lot. I sighed of exhaustion reading this play and I sighed with relief after finishing the play. I believe that this play is not meant for the entertainment of today’s society because much of the comedic parts of this play was just confusion amongst the characters. While I read this play, I related to my classmate; Tatiana Ribeiro: “I consider this play outdated and not useful”.

    The literature used in this play was very sophisticated; after all William Shakespeare did write it; however while I was reading the play many of the lines felt like it was used to fill up a quota; almost as if the play needed to be a minimum of 2 hours long. With that being said I did find some parts of the play comedic. For instance, in Act 5 Scene 1 Page 5 Quince delivers a prologue and it states.

    “If we offend, it is with our good will.
    That you should think we come not to offend,
    But with good will. To show our simple skill,
    That is the true beginning of our end.
    Consider then we come but in despite.
    We do not come as minding to contest you,
    Our true intent is. All for your delight
    We are not here. That you should here repent you,
    The actors are at hand, and by their show
    You shall know all that you are like to know.”

    I found this funny because they are apologizing and warning the audience that any offence they might take from the play was not made to offend them, and the reason I found this funny was that many shows and especially comedy shows have to give a warning and apologize to the audience. After all, in this day and age, many people seem to find a problem with everything. It was also comedic when the audience in the play listened to Quince and judged how awful he presented the prologue to them.

    Back to my point on how many scenes seemed ridiculous to even have, like the one where Theseus is bragging about his dogs barking; completely missing the four people laying down on the floor till the very end of his bragging speech. Or where Bottom is telling Titania what he would like to eat from “a peck of provender” to “a handful or two of dried peas”.

    A theme that was easy to pick out in this play was “The Challenges (frustrations and humiliation) of love”. Helena experienced the most humiliation in this play even more so than Bottom who had his face turned into a donkey.

    In Act 2 Scene 1 Page 8, Helena cried to Demetrius

    “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.
    Use me but as your spaniel—spurn me, strike me,
    Neglect me, lose me. Only give me leave,
    Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
    What worser place can I beg in your love—
    And yet a place of high respect with me—
    Than to be usèd as you use your dog?”

    This scene made me feel really uncomfortable and embarrassed for Helena as she basically just told Demetrius that she loved him so much he could treat her like a dog and it would be an honour. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Robin had secretly cursed Helena to stoop down at such a low level. This scene shows the humiliation that comes with love. It’s not a healthy love but a love that will cause someone to want love by any means.

    To conclude this play was comedic at some points but mostly discomfiting and awkward to read. I enjoyed watching the actors act out the play because they were talented in doing so.

    • Tatiana Ribeiro

      Matthew, I think you are making some good points in your response about this play. I do agree with you regarding some comedic parts, as well feeling awkward most of the time reading it, despite of the beauty of the language itself. Regarding Quince’s prologue, apologizing if the play offends anyone: perhaps back in 1500’s was much like now, and there were also as many opinions as there are people. Perhaps Shakespeare’s audience could express their disproval, and theaters strived to please their audience, much like now as well. In that regard, literature is a chronicle of societal changes. However awkward it was to read some of the scenes, it was also good to know that these days, society in general is far removed from practicing laws similar to those in the play.

    • Mark Noonan

      Thanks Matthew for this smart and honest appraisal of the play. That is a very funny quote you pull from the play and highly pertinent to the “offense” the play (Shakespeare’s) gives today’s readers — so well documented by others as well.

  14. Habeeb Zandani

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is a fanciful comedy centered around Puck (also called Robin Goodfellow), a magical fairy-like creature. The play begins with the Duke of Athens preparing to wed the Queen of the Amazons. During preparations for the festival, two young men, Demetrius, and Lysander meet a young nobleman’s daughter, Hermia. Both men fall in love with her, but her father only gives her permission to marry Demetrius. However, it is Lysander that Hermia loves. She makes plans to run away with Lysander and tells her best friend, Helena. Unbeknownst to Hermia, Helena is in love with Demetrius, and plans to tell him in hopes of winning him over.

    Meanwhile, Puck is sent on a quest by Oberon, King of the Fairies, to find a magical Cupid-like flower so that he can punish Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, and force her to give him a changeling for his servant. When the flower is sprinkled on a sleeping person’s eyelids, they will fall desperately in love with the first thing they see when they wake up. Puck uses the flower on Titania, who wakes up to see a hapless basket-weaver and actor, Bottom, whose face has been turned into that of a donkey. Due to the mischievous nature of fairies, issues again arise when Puck tries to intervene with the predicaments of Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander, who have all run away to the forest. After sprinkling dust in each of the men’s eyes, they both fall in love with Helena, forgetting Hermia. This creates intense jealousy between the women, and renewed rivalry between the men, who challenge each other to a fight to win Helena.

    From my perspective I really enjoyed the story but the way that they portrayed on the big screen was bad and old. What I know about those type of sorry they’re already supposed to be on the public domain but it’s really old and you feel really not connected to the story and the way it is being told. However if you sit until the end you will see that the story has a really nice and a beautiful meaning. Where true love strives and hatred get demised. That really wish there were something new that we can enjoy today maybe better way of the trading the play. Anyway this is my way thinking about the story and how it ended it was an enjoyable ride until the end some classic cliche but still it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be I really enjoyed it. I’m not a person who usually watch plays a lot to be honest this one was my first however it wasn’t as that as I thought it’s going to be.

    After some time, Puck is forced to fix his mistakes. However, while rectifying things, Demetrius truly falls in love with Helena. At this time, the Duke of Athens arrives, finding the lovers in the woods, and is told the story. He insists that they are all wed during his wedding ceremony. After the wedding, Bottom’s troupe performs a comical version of a play, Pyramus and Thisbe. In the end, only Puck remains on stage. He begs the audiences’ forgiveness for his embarrassing mistakes and prays everyone remembers the play as if it were only a dream.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very thoughtful (and thorough) reading of this play Habeeb. I’m glad you gave the play a chance and enjoyed so much of it.

  15. Sheen

    After reading William Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, I really understand nothing.I am not good at literature, also my second language is English. This play is pretty difficult to understand for me. Then I started to read my class fellows comments. Then I try to read again the play and also I saw the movie on amazon prime with subtitles. Then I get the point of this play. This play is totally a deep love story of Lysander and Hermia. The play is kinda commedie or I can say the square love story of Lysander,Hermia,Helena ,and Demetrius .Also it has a mystery of fairy wood.
    The story begins with the disagreement of Hermia’s Father with her lover Athenian youths Lysander .Her father promised to Demetrius that he will marry her beautiful daughter to him.But the complex is Lysander already stole Hermias heart.So Hermia refuses to obey her father. Egeus demands to punish Hermia for breaking the promise.Theseus sharply speaks to Hermia that he will put her to death.I can see the social conflict here.

    I can relate this play to my country’s village culture.No one can believe in this century it also happens. In some of our rural areas only the father has the right to fix the one her daughter will marry . And they have some social restrictions like the play . Our countries have many movies with this common problem like the Hermias and her father disagreement.
    Go back to this play in the Act 1 ,
    I just love the quote from Hermia and Lysander – Lysander said-”The course of true love never did run smooth”.This quote really meant to me.That’s true in real life every true love has a very difficult journey.
    Here Shakespeare portrays the lovers as overly serious as is deeply and also the feelings of human emotions.
    In act 2, The author took us to Fairwood. In the Fairwood, we met two fairies Titania and Oberon where intitatesthe romantic confusion. In the fairy wood, the confusion of love relationships eventually helps restore the balance of love .The author made the magical poetic imaginary.Oberon and Titania have conflict for the motif of love being out of balance.I really get confused when I read act 2. It’s still confusing for me .I get behind with their relationship glitch.
    But the most interesting part in act 2 for me, is rubbing the flower juice on eyelids will cause sleep and fall in love with the first living things.
    To conclude,I want to say this play is full of entertainment and the best thing for me is the true love between Hermia and Lysander. When I start to understand the play, I really enjoy it a lot, but something about the relationships between the characters is still confusing.

    • Mark Noonan

      It’s indeed a somewhat difficult and confusing play. Sheen, but you do an excellent job focusing on some of its key themes. Your point about restrictions of love in your country is also very interesting.

      • Sheen

        thanks, prof.

  16. Dominique Jones

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare tells the story of a difficult, but intriguing, love story involving 4 individuals. Each individual’s need to live their lives with true love leads them all to unusual, sometimes peculiar, situations revolving around one another.

    There is a theme that “True Love is Never Easy” throughout the play which I am intrigued by. Hermia, the daughter of Egeus is faced with marrying a man she does not love, Demetrius, or being sent to a convent or even executed. Hermia loves Lysander, but her father feels that Lysander has casted a spell on his daughter’s heart and he will not allow them to marry. After Theseus told Hermia her fate, she holds back her tears as Lysander reminds her that true love is never easy. He says,

    “Could ever hear by tale or history,
    The course of true love never did run smooth.” (Act 1, Scene 1).

    It’s true! True love for everyone has its obstacles and for many, who they choose to love, may not be accepted by their families or even the world. Some of the reasons for non acceptance may be race, gender, age, religion, socioeconomic status, or even one’s career choice. Hermia says,

    If then true lovers have been ever crossed,
    It stands as an edict in destiny.
    Then let us teach our trial patience,
    Because it is a customary cross,
    As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs, (Act 1, Scene 1)
    I feel that Hermia rationalizes her outrageous circumstances by saying that this is just the way love is, but it is this moment that sparks an idea in her love, Lysander, that they believe will save their love.

    Many people do crazy things for love, but love is blind and that is all they can see like Lysander and Hermia. Many would agree to risk their lives for love as long as it means they can love who they can love. So the theme of love never being easy is a theme in this play and throughout real people’s lives. I found this theme intriguing for that very connection it has to the realities for many not being able to love who they wish.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent discussion of a key theme in this play Dominique. I really liked your term “intriguing” to capture what’s so great about the work.

  17. Aban Waleed

    Due to how the English was spoken back in the days, it was very hard for me to understand the play but I tried my best to get a sense of what it was about. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play about a love story written by William Shakespeare. The play was interesting to watch and I enjoyed it. I was watching while reading the provided link to text version to catch up to anything. The beginning already had caught my attention because of the fact that Hermia was given two choices, to either marry Demetrius or to die for disobedience to her father. Due to the law of Athens Hermia cannot choose who she wants to marry but only the guy her father chooses for her. This was interesting because I was unaware that there would be such a law that only allowed the father to pick the love of his daughter just because she is claimed to be his property. I also liked the fact that as the play went by Lysander changed from loving Hermia to Helena then back to Hermia. This added interest and a change to the play which was entertaining.

    There were many challenges of love in the scene. Helena wanted to marry Lysander but her father told her she had to marry someone else. The Athens law said that she either lived single or she would be killed if she doesn’t listen to her father. Lysander and Helena were aware of these laws and yet still loved each others. Love can cause you to do many thing and some people go all out for love.

    • Aban Waleed

      This stanza is from the play from act I talking about the Athens law said by Theseus.

      THESEUS Upon that day either prepare to die
      For disobedience to your father’s will,
      Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
      Or on Diana’s altar to protest
      For aye austerity and single life.

    • Aban Waleed

      This stanza is from the play from act I talking about the Athens law said by Theseus.

      THESEUS Upon that day either prepare to die
      For disobedience to your father’s will,
      Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
      Or on Diana’s altar to protest
      For aye austerity and single life.

    • Aban Waleed

      Please do let me know professor Noonan whether this was how this assignment was suppose to be done or not.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very good discussion of this play and film, Aban. You followed the entertaining twists of love in this play well as well as the restrictions to love at the time.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very good discussion of this play and film, Aban. You followed the entertaining twists of love in this play well as well as the restrictions to love at the time.

  18. Junhao Yu

    In the beginning of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the complex relationship between Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia and Helena is described. Since Hermia’s father prefers Demetrius, he tries to prevent the love between Hermia and Lysander. At the same time, Lysander cannot publicly marry Hermia due to legal reasons. So Lysander planned to escape from Athens with Hermia in the evening. This is a crazy and bold idea. The last sentence in Act 2, sence 2, and page 4 shows that Lysander’s love for Hermia far exceeds his own life. I think love is the most special among human emotions. Sometimes it can give us a lot of courage and strength. It is a feeling that exceeds life. In reality, some countries do have laws restricting marriage. But when we fall in love with each other, we feel that we can pay all the price in the future, but in fact, it is very torturous in terms of feelings. Later, Hermia’s father also knew who really loved his daughter. He also agreed to the marriage of Hermia and Lysander. In fact, as a parent, I certainly hope that my children can have a happy marriage and a bright future. Sometimes parents disagree with their children’s marriage, but it is also based on love for the sake of their children.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent discussion Junhao. I really liked you line:
      “I think love is the most special among human emotions. Sometimes it can give us a lot of courage and strength. It is a feeling that exceeds life. “

  19. Anthony Bastien

    As I read through the text, I found Oberon to be the most interesting character. He set the whole play in motion, along with Puck, or Robin, in my opinion. The depiction of Puck in the film adaption was very amusing. His love of mischievousness was displayed effectively; at times, in the text, his actions seemed more hateful than playful. For this reason, I enjoyed the scenes in the woods more than any other.

    I found Oberon, King of the Fairies, to be very ambivalent towards his wife, Titania, Queen of the Fairies. In Act II, Oberon devises a plot to apprehend a changeling boy from Titania after she declines his proposal. He states, “well, go thy way; thou shall not from this grove till i torment thee for this injury.” I expected this romantic tiff to become a simple battle of wits; i did not expect Oberon to make his wife fall in love with a beast, for the sake of a henchman.

    I enjoyed reading the play, especially deciphering through the old english, to which I was unfamiliar. Watching the film adaptation added to my enjoyment of the play by putting faces to the characters and constructing a world around the text, which made it easier for me to grasp the scene and the tone of the dialogue more efficiently.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent discussion of the various characters in this play, Anthony. I’m glad you enjoyed both the text and the zany film version of the play as well.

  20. Daniel Conenna

    A Midnight Summer
    My good Lysander!
    I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,
    170 By his best arrow with the golden head,
    By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
    By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
    And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen
    When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
    175 By all the vows that ever men have broke
    (In number more than ever women spoke),
    In that same place thou hast appointed me,
    Tomorrow truly will I meet with thee.
    (Act 1 Scene 1 Pg. 7)
    This is my first time ever reading Shakespeare and I have to say it is very hard understanding his writing. The old English is completely different than what today’s English is. While reading the play I had to use the modern translations to understand what was going on. But I must admit that this play was very interesting about how the laws were forced and applied to society. In A Midnight Summer, Hermia wants to spend her life with Lysander, but her father Egeus doesn’t want Hermia to be with him. Knowing that if Hermia decides to be with Lysander and not with who her father wants the consequences would either be execution, or she must remain a nun for the rest of her life. Even with these harsh consequences she still decides to be with Lysander. Hermia ultimately goes against her father’s wishes and decides to run away with him. Shakespeare expresses in this story how powerful love can be at times no matter what the outcome will result to.

    • Mark Noonan

      Interesting reading of the power of love (that continue today) and the rules of loves during that era, Daniel. You also chose some great lines from Helena — about her love mingled with skepticism.

  21. Devesh Ramsingh

    In scene II act II from lines 40-60 it shows how Lysander want to become one with Hermia and share his love. Hermia does not want to be scene with Lysander after laying in the woods because she does not know if Lysander wants her for who she is or would want to use her for his pleasure. Lysander tries to convey his love by saying his loyalty runs deep. For example on line 60-65 it says “Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I; And then end life when I end loyalty!” This shows that Lysander wants to prove to Hermia that he is the one for her and does not want her to loose trust in him.

    These few lines about Lysander and Hermia reminded be severly about how in the middle eastern countries, for a man to spend their life with the woman they want it is their greatest struggle. Having to prove their loyalty to not only the one they seek but those around them. This also then leads to families not liking the man in some cases because they don’t believe in the same religion/ beliefs. On line 35 it states “Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood” this shows how Lysander and Hermia sneak into the woods to be alone with each other which happens all the time in middle easter countries, The man and woman have to break the household rules to find happy ness with the one they desire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 ENG1121

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑