Literary Terms in A Midsummer Night's Dream


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An introduction to figurative language and soliloquies in A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Literary Terms in A Midsummer Night's Dream

  1. 1. Shakespearean Drama: Critical Literary Concepts
  2. 2. I. Figurative Language
  3. 3. A. Definition <ul><li>Describes something by comparing it to something else. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparison is not literal – uses imagination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses images in the comparison </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The two things are different enough so that their similarities, when pointed out, are interesting, unique, or surprising. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. 2. Three Main Types <ul><li>Metaphor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct comparison of two unlike things that have something in common. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not use “like” or as” – says one thing IS another thing. </li></ul></ul>“ But earthlier happy is the rose distilled , Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn , Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness ” (I.i. 76-78) Here, Theseus refers to a married woman as a “rose distilled” to emphasize that a married woman has a purpose in life. Here, Theseus refers to a nun as a rose that grows, lives, and dies all alone on the vine, to emphasize that such a woman lacks a real purpose in life and is all alone.
  5. 5. <ul><li>b. Simile </li></ul><ul><li>i. Indirect comparison of two unlike things. </li></ul><ul><li>ii. Uses “like” or “as” – does NOT say that one object IS the other thing. </li></ul>“ To you your father should be as a god , One that composed your beauties; yea and one To whom you are but as a form in wax By him imprinted and within his power To leave the figure or disfigure it” (I.i. 47-51) To convince Hermia that she should listen to her dad, Theseus compares him to a god. He then adds emphasis by comparing Hermia to a wax figure that her father carved. He says her dad has the power to leave the statue complete, or destroy it.
  6. 6. <ul><li>c. Personification </li></ul><ul><li>i. Gives human qualities to an inanimate object or idea. </li></ul><ul><li>ii. Qualities include emotions, desires, sensations, speech, gestures, etc. </li></ul>“ And then the moon , like to a silver bow New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night Of our solemnities” (I.i. 8-10). Here, Hippolyta emphasizes her unhappiness by saying the moon (Artemis) will witness what will happen. Ex: “But earthlier happy is the rose distilled , Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn, Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness” (I.i. 76-78) Returning to our earlier metaphor example, Theseus says that the distilled rose is happier than the one that never gets used. Giving a flower emotions is personification. This emphasizes his view that Hermia will be happier if she marries Demetrius than if she becomes a nun.
  7. 7. II. Soliloquy
  8. 8. <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A speech given by someone alone on stage (soli = alone, loquere = Latin for “to speak”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The character talks to him/herself, not to any other characters. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Serves several main purposes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reveals a character’s true inner thoughts and feelings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can give insights into the plot – plans the character is making, ideas he / she has </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In other words, it allows the audience to learn things that they would never otherwise learn. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. C. Key soliloquies in MND <ul><ul><li>Helena, Act I.i </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oberon, Act II.i </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bottom, Act IV.ii </li></ul></ul>