William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream The focus of this discussion will be upon the language and performance possibilities of this extract from the Dream[1], following brief consideration of the manner in which the extract relates to the rest of the play in terms of plot development and the reflection of certain of the play’s themes. Performance aspects are considered alongside the distinctive features of the language, as it is suggested that the nature of the language employed governs performance. Broadly speaking, it is argued that while the language of the extract lends itself to a humorous performance on more than one level, in certain respects the humour seeks to convey a serious message and the extract’s comedy should not mask unexpected instances of sincerity. As suggested above, this extract relates to the Dream as a whole through simple plot development and the illustration of some of the play’s recurring themes. The extract progresses two of the play’s four principal plot lines. As it structurally occupies a central point in the play, it also represents a mid-point in the development of these plot lines. The discord, which exists between Titania and Oberon and is initially revealed in Act 2 Scene 1, is played out, as the juice, which Oberon has dropped on Titania’s eyelids causes her to wake and fall in love with Bottom. This plot proceeds to its denouement with the restoration of harmony between the fairy King and Queen in Act 4 Scene 1. The clowns[2], meanwhile, having met in Act 1 Scene 2 to allot parts for the play, which they are later to perform before Theseus and Hippolyta, are now in the forest r... ... middle of paper ... ...: 2000. --------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] The text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream used for this discussion is that in Stephen Greenblatt, Ealter Chien, Jean E. Howard and Katherine Eisaman Maus, eds., The Norton Shakespeare, W.W. Norton and Company, New York: 1997, pp. 841-861. The play is referred to as the ‘Dream’ throughout this discussion. [2] The term used to describe Quince, Bottom, Snout, Snug and Starveling is derived from the stage direction at the beginning of Act 3 Scene 1. [3] The ‘courtiers’, here, refers to Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius and Helena. [4] See, for example, Penny Rixon, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Kiernan Ryan, ed., Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts, Macmillan Press Ltd. in association with the Open University, Basingstoke: 2000, p.11.
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