You did a wonderful job with your posts on Oedipus Rex and Lysistrata (and some intrepid souls even posted on Spike Lee’s amazing film Chi-Raq). [I will be posting all grades in the gradebook link on course site.] Read through these posts (and my responses) again to get a fuller appreciation of the richness, genius, and wisdom of the playwrights Sophocles and Aristophanes (and Brooklyn filmmaker Spike Lee!!!).
Please watch my video lecture “Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age,” which introduces our next author and work. Once you watch my video, I ask that you read Shakespeare’s greatest (in my opinion) Romantic Comedy: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1596). A mature play published after “Romeo and Juliet,” it’s a brilliant, fun, 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”! Indeed, especially when it comes to love!
This week’s homework is as follows:
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.
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.
For a wonderful theater-esque experience, I also recommend the NYC “Shakespeare in the Park” production (1982): (Midsummer Night’s Dream Part I, MND Part II) .
It’s somewhat long but wonderful and gives a sense of what it’s like to watch a live play in New York’s Outdoor Delacourte Theatre. This summer “Shakespeare in the Park” is producing Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor” — more on this amazing event later.
Post a Response to a speech, scene, character, theme, or other dramatic element that you find particularly intriguing (due Monday, June 14). 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 play help viewers distinguish between each?)
Extra Credit: Read William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1601) and/or watch the 1948 film version of Hamlet (featuring Lawrence Olivier).
For an excellent modern rendition, I recommend the film starring Mel Gibson (Hamlet).