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Unreality in A Midsummer Night's Dream

analytical Essay
1683 words
1683 words
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Unreality in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that encompasses three worlds: the romantic world of the aristocratic lovers, the workday world of the rude mechanicals, and the fairy world of Titania and Oberon. And while all three worlds tangle and intertwine during the course of the play, it is the fairy world that has the greatest impact, for both the lovers and the mechanicals are changed by their brush with the "children of Pan."

For those whose job it is to bring these worlds to life in the theatre -- directors, designers, actors -- the first questions that must be answered are: just what do the fairies look like, and how is their world different from ours? As our world has grown increasingly scientific, technological, and separated from nature, artists' answers to those two questions have changed considerably.

As cities have engulfed our landscape, and the "unreality of moonlight" has been washed out by the very real glare of streetlights; as the "whisperings of the leaves, sighing of the winds, and the low, sad moan of the waves" gradually have been replaced by the sound of traffic and small weapons fire, the gentle voices of the fairies have been drowned out by the cacophony of the metropolis. In this brave new world of concrete and glass, Shakespeare's "children of Pan" have come more and more to resemble the "children of Man" than ever before.

One hundred and fifty years ago, however, it was very different: the world of the fairies was an idealized version of our own, filled with unearthly splendor and wonder. Directors and designers reveled in the opportunity to create scenes of unparalleled beauty and magnificence. In a lavish production created by Madame Vestris a...

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...atural. To emphasize this, Longworth sets the play in the Victorian era with its rigid social codes, which served to cut the human soul off from any emotion or thought that hinted at a lack of reason and control; and with its confidence that Man could dominate nature and convert it to human purposes. The fairies, of course, are proof that humans are deeply deluded in both regards. And though by the end of the play the lovers still cannot see the fairies, they are nonetheless beginning to sense their presence a bit more.

In our noisy, frantic world, full of sound and fury which all too often seems to signify nothing, Longworth's fairies seem to encourage us to listen once again, to seek out the mysteries of "another type of life akin but distinct from [our] own," and to once again hear the voices of the children of Pan as they whisper the secrets of their world.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how a midsummer night's dream encompasses three worlds: the romantic, the workday, and the fairy world of titania and oberon.
  • Explains that as our world has grown increasingly scientific, technological, and separated from nature, artists' answers to those two questions have changed considerably.
  • Analyzes how shakespeare's "children of pan" has come more and more to resemble the children of man in this brave new world of concrete and glass.
  • Explains that the world of the fairies was an idealized version of our own. directors and designers reveled in the opportunity to create scenes of unparalleled beauty and magnificence.
  • Analyzes how charles kean extended the scenic grandeur even further in his production, where elaborate scenery, mechanical effects, and music abounded.
  • Narrates herbert beerbohm tree's production of 1900, in which "joyful fairies, wearing the colours of nature, green or brown silk or flower petals, appeared from behind bulrushes or shrubs."
  • Analyzes how the fairy kingdom was presented as an idyllic place of gentle mischief and unearthly beauty during the 19th and early 20th centuries. the 1970 production changed the face of a midsummer night's dream forever.
  • Analyzes how brook stripped away all of the elaborate embroideries that had gradually become attached to the play and set it in a bare, brilliantly-lit white room.
  • Analyzes how brook's production caused controversy and released an extraordinary amount of energy in the theatre world. imaginations were piqued and creativity unleashed.
  • Analyzes how kott dynamited the traditions of the past century with his essay on a midsummer night's dream.
  • Explains that the fairy world was no longer an ideal projection of the lover's romantic fantasies, but rather the dark alter ego of daytime world, mr. hyde to the lovers' dr. jekyll.
  • Analyzes how alvin epstein's 1975 production at the yale repertory theatre set the tone for many productions to follow.
  • Analyzes how epstein's "love" is a love built on earthy sexuality. if the lovers' hearts are in their heads, then the fairies'
  • Analyzes how hard-edged, erotic versions of a midsummer night's dream dominated the stages of the '70s and 1980s, reflecting the concerns of a society obsessed with and anxious about all matters sexual.
  • Analyzes how the illinois shakespeare festival production of a midsummer night's dream, directed by bruce longworth, with costume designs by dottie marshall and set design by wes peters, reflects society’s relatively new concern with ecology.
  • Analyzes how a midsummer night's dream reminds us of the voices that have been drowned out by our "civilization." victorian lovers are deaf to these magical sounds and blind to the fairies who create them.
  • Analyzes how the british playwright and teacher keith johnstone, in his book impro, tells the story of a psychotic girl that seemed relatively normal when she was with him.
  • Analyzes how longworth's fairies are a metaphor for the almost total alienation the mortals in this production have from all things natural.
  • Analyzes how longworth's fairies encourage us to listen again, to seek out the mysteries of "another type of life akin but distinct from [our] own," and to hear the voices of the children of pan whispering the secrets of their world.
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