William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

analytical Essay
1677 words
1677 words

Shakespeare wrote his acclaimed comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream more than a thousand years after Apuleius’ Roman novel, The Golden Ass. Although separated by thousands of years and different in terms of plot and setting, these works share the common theme of a confused and vulnerable man finding direction by relying on a supernatural female. One of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s many subplots is the story of Bottom, a comical figure determined to be taken seriously in his production of a Pyramus and Thisbe. As Bottom becomes caught up in a quarrel between the king and queen of the fairies, the commanders of the enchanted forest where Bottom and his players practice, the “shrewd and knavish sprite” Puck transforms his head into an ass’ s and leads him to be enthralled in a one night stand with the queen, Titania. (2.1.33) Apuleius’s protagonist Lucius endures a similar transformation, after his mistress’s slave girl accidentally bewitches him into a donkey, leaving him even without the ability to speak. Although Lucius’ transformation lasts longer and is more severe, he and Bottom both undergo similar experiences resulting from their animal forms. Lucius’ suffering ultimately leads him to salvation through devotion the cult of Isis, and Bottom’s affair with Titania grants him clarity and a glimpse into similar divine beauty. Ultimately, both asinine characters are saved through their surrender to the goddesses. Bottom and Lucius begin their respective novels as laughingstocks. In the beginning of Act Three, as soon as Bottom assembles his acting troupe of misfits in the words, the comic relief begins at his own expense as he endearingly worries that his portrayal of Pyramus and Thisbe’s deaths, as well as the lion, will be so convi... ... middle of paper ... ...o do they restore Bottom and Lucius, two supplicants who gain greatly and recover from their humiliation as asses by assuming a passive role in supplication to them. Works Cited Apuleius. Metamorphoses. An Apuleius Reader. Ed. Ellen D. Finkelpearl. Mundelein, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2012. Print. ---. The Golden Ass. Trans. Sarah Ruden. London: Yale University Press, 2011. Print. ---. The Golden Ass. Trans. W. Adlington. Ed. T.E. Page, E. Capps, W. H. D. Rouse. London: William Heinemann, 1928. Print. Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ed. David L. Stevenson. New York: Signet ……….Classic, 1998. Print. Witt, R.E. Isis in the Ancient World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print. N.B. All translations are my own, except where otherwise indicated.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how shakespeare wrote a midsummer night's dream more than a thousand years after apuleius' roman novel, the golden ass.
  • Compares titania and isis in a midsummer night's dream. both women rule the natural world and have cult followings.
  • Compares the religious devotion of lucius and the extramarital affair of bottom. both encounters restore marital harmony.
  • Analyzes how the long-term effects of the encounters on bottom and lucius are more important than the interactions with goddesses.
  • Analyzes how bottom and lucius are different on a superficial level, but their common experience of transforming into donkeys and coming into close contact with female power unites them.
  • Presents the golden ass. trans. w. adlington.
  • Opines that shakespeare, william. a midsummer night’s dream. ed. david l. stevenson.
  • Analyzes how bottom and lucius begin their novels as laughingstocks. bottom worries that his portrayal of pyramus and thisbe's deaths, as well as the lion, will be so convincing that women in the audience would be disturbed.
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