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Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream


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Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream

  1. 1.  A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play by William Shakespeare.  It is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.  It is unknown exactly when A Midsummer Night's Dream was written or first performed, but on the basis of topical references and an allusion to Edmund Spenser's 'Epithalamion', it is usually dated 1594 or 1596.  Though it is not a translation or adaptation of an earlier work, various sources such as Ovid's Metamorphoses and Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale" served as inspiration.[4]
  2. 2.  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” takes place in the ancient city of Athens, Greece.  This is not “historical”, but “mythical” Greece, with heroes, magic, and monsters.  Most of the action of the play takes place in a magical forest outside of the city during a midsummer’s eve.
  3. 3.  The main characters are four couples:  King Theseus and his intended bride Hippolyta;  King Oberon and Queen Titania of the woodland faeries;  Lysander and Hermia, a pair of young lovers.  And Demetrius and Helena, a frustrated pair of lovers.
  4. 4. • Hermia and Lysander are in love. • Hermia’s father, however, insists that she marry Demetrius. • Hermia’s friend Helena loves Demetrius. • Demetrius used to love Helena, until he met Hermia, and dumped Helena like a load of bricks. Hermia Lysander Helena Demetrius Egius
  5. 5.  Important secondary characters include:  The Mechanicals: a group of common workmen who are trying to put together a play for King Theseus's wedding celebration.  Puck: a mischievous forest sprite, who causes everyone a lot of trouble with his pranks and mixups.
  6. 6.  Much like a fairy tale, the story properly begins when our main characters enter the enchanted forest:  Lysander & Hermia enter to secretly elope…  Demetrius follows to stop them; Helena follows Demetrius…  The Mechanicals are just looking for a quiet place to rehearse their play…
  7. 7.  Much of the action (and comedy) is the result of a powerful love potion, taken from a rare flower, which Oberon commands Puck to put into two people’s eyes:  Queen Titania, who has angered Oberon, and whom he wants to punish, by making her fall in love with some ugly creature;  Demetrius, because Oberon wants him to return Helena’s love.
  8. 8.  Puck gets the flower, allowing Oberon to put the love potion on Titania’s eyes while she’s sleeping, and causing her to fall in love with one of the Mechanicals, Bottom, whom Puck has jokingly transformed into a talking donkey!
  9. 9.  But Puck fails in his second task; instead of putting love potion in Demetrius’s eyes, he mistakenly puts it in Lysander’s, who leaves his fiancé Hermia, and immediately falls in love with Helena! (Who’s still in love with Demetrius.)
  10. 10.  Being a comedy, it all works out in the end, and the hopelessly inept Mechanicals perform their play for King Theseus and Queen Hippolyta’s wedding.  Puck finishes off the night by telling the audience that perhaps we have all only been dreaming.
  11. 11.  "Comedy", in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare's other plays. Shakespearean comedies tend to also include:  A greater emphasis on situations than characters (this numbs the audience's connection to the characters, so that when characters experience misfortune, the audience still finds it laughable)  A struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty, often presented by elders  Separation and re-unification  Deception among characters (especially mistaken identity)  A clever servant  Fights between characters, often within a family  Multiple, intertwining plots  Use of all styles of comedy (slapstick, puns, dry humour, earthy humour, witty banter, practical jokes)  A Happy Ending, though this is a given, since by definition, anything without a happy ending can't be a comedy.
  12. 12.  The course of true love never did run smooth. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 1  Swift as a shadow, short as any dream; Brief as the lightning in the collied night. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 1  So quick bright things come to confusion. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 1  Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 2  A sweet-face man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer's day. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 2  I'll put a girdle round about the earth In forty minutes. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2. 1  A lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 1  Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 1  Lord, what fools these mortals be! A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 2  Cupid is a knavish lad, Thus to make poor females mad. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 2  My Oberon! what visions have I seen! Methought I was enamoured of an ass. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4. 1  The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4. 1  To show our simple skill, That is the true beginning of our end. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5. 1  If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 5. 1
  13. 13.  The pastoral setting and magical make-believe land that Midsummer Night’s Dream inhabits has inspired many other artists.  Over 30 movie adaptions have been made, the first one in 1909!  Other notable films are:  1935 with James Cagney and Mickey Rooney  1968 with Helen Mirren and Diana Rigg.  1981 BBC production  An animated version for children  A 1999 film with Kevin Kline and Christian Bale.  And a British production performed entirely by children!
  14. 14.  Before movies were made, several classical composers found inspiration in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, including:  Felix Mendelssohn  Peter Tchaikovsky  Sergei Rachmaninov  Benjamin Britten  These composers wrote symphonies, ballets, operas and other works, all based on the magical world Shakespeare created with his “Dream”.