StarterWhat were the three ways of thinking aboutShakespearean comedy we looked at last lesson?• Northrop Frye can help us to understand Shakespearean comedy through the concept of “green worlds” in the play, which reinvigorate the old world and allow a new world to emerge• Barber can help us through the idea of “festive comedy,” and the saturnalian pattern which these comedies follow• Bahktin offers us the concept of “carnival” – celebration outside the bounds of the conventional culture
It may also help to understand the plays through these opposites:• Everyday • Holiday• Stricture • Freedom• Restraint • Liberty• Inhibition • Release• Civilisation • Nature• Rule • Misrule• Order • Chaos• Court • Country• The Urban • The Rural• Age • Youth
Look at the following images, painted in response to A Midsummer Night’s Dream by famous artists..Thinking about both these paintings and the title of the play:• What can we guess about the play from these images?• What is the mood in these paintings?• What themes or ideas might be raised by the play?
Look at the following cast of characters in the play…• What might this list suggest about the action, mood, themes or ideas in the play?
Dramatis Personae Theseus, Duke of Athens Hipployta, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus Lysander, a young courtier Demetrius, another young courtier Hermia, in love with Lysander Helena, in love with Demetrius Egeus, Hermias father Philostrate, Master of Revels Oberon, King of the Fairies Titania, Queen of the Fairies A fairy, in service to TitaniaPuck, or Robin Goodfellow, Oberons jester and lieutenant Peaseblossom, a fairy in Titanias service Cobweb, a fairy in Titanias service Moth, a fairy in Titanias service Mustardseed, a fairy in Titanias service Peter Quince, a carpenter Nick Bottom, a weaver Francis Flute, a bellows-mender Tom Snout, a tinker Snug, a joiner Robin Starveling, a tailor Other fairies attending on Oberon and Titania Lords and attendants to Theseus and Hippolyta
Look at the following settings for each scene of the play. What might they tell us about the action or ideas in the play?Act 1, Scene 1: Athens. The palace of Theseus.Act 1, scene 2: Athens. Quince’s house.Act 2, scene 1: A wood near Athens.Act 2, scene 2: Another part of the wood.Act 3, scene 1: The wood. Titania lying asleep.Act 3, scene 2: Another part of the wood.Act 4, scene 1: The same.Act 4, scene2 : Athens. Quince’s house.Act 5, scene 1: Athens. The palace of Theseus.
Read the opening speeches of the play:THESEUSNow, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour • What is happening in four days’Draws on apace; four happy days bring in time?Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slowThis old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,Like to a step-dame or a dowager • How does Theseus feel about thoseLong withering out a young man revenue. four days?HIPPOLYTAFour days will quickly steep themselves in night;Four nights will quickly dream away the time;And then the moon, like to a silver bow • What kind of imagery does HippolytaNew-bent in heaven, shall behold the night use?Of our solemnities.THESEUS • What mood does it create?Go, Philostrate,Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth; • What does Theseus commandTurn melancholy forth to funerals; Philostrate to do?The pale companion is not for our pomp.Exit PHILOSTRATE • What mood does he want to createHippolyta, I wood thee with my sword, throughout Athens?And won thy love, doing thee injuries;But I will wed thee in another key,With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. • What mood does the last line create?
Task:Thinking about the title of the play, the cast ofcharacters, the settings and the openingspeeches, how far do you think A MidsummerNight’s Dream is going to follow the patternsand engage with the ideas about Shakespeareancomedy that we looked at last lesson?
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