Lysander in Act 1 Scene 1 foreshadows the plays main
source of dramatic comedy: Love. “The course of true
love never did r...
LOVE
Requited/
Romantic:
When both
parties feel the
love

Parental:
Love for your
children

Unrequited:
One party
doesn‟t ...
TASK: Describe the love between these
characters
Theseus and Hippolyta
Egeus and Hermia
Lysander and Hermia
Demetrius and ...
Love
(according to Lysander)
LYSANDER The course of true love never did run smooth.
But either it was different in blood –...
The Lovers

Hermia
(Hermia – the ever-moving messenger of the
Greek gods, know to Romans as Mercury)
Hermia is the darker ...
The Lovers
The four young lovers amorous affairs form a central thread of the story.
But their love is turned on and off l...
The Lovers – Courtly Love
One of the most influential literary ideas in the medieval period
was that of amour courtois, co...
The Lovers – Courtly Love
The important thing to note is that this was not a
particularly common (or sensible) way of actu...
“The Course of True Love Never
Did Run Smooth”
The magic juice dropped into the lovers‟
eyes makes them all „madly dote on...
The Course of Love
Act 3 Scene 2
TASK:
• Lines 122-136 Lysander and Helena argue. Why?
• Line 136 Lysander says he loves H...
LYSANDER awakes under the influence of magic and sees Helena.
LYSANDER: [Waking] And run through fire I will for thy sweet...
The next thing the audience witnesses is a girl-fight.
HERMIA: O me! you juggler! you cankerbossom!
You thief of love! Wha...
Who‟s upset – Act 2 Scene 2

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Analyse the lines listed below to explore the
differences in Helena‟s, Lysande...
An Odd Romance
Perhaps to highlight further that love is in the eye of the
beholder , magic even brings about a liaison be...
An Odd Romance
Titania and Bottom
In the play’s fairy world, where the courtly romantic conventions are irrelevant, love i...
TITANIA: I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
Mine ear is much enamored of thy note;
So is mine eye enthralled to thy s...
ANAGNORISIS
A moment in a play or other work when a character
makes a critical discovery. Anagnorisis originally
meant rec...
Happily Ever After...
How does the „course of love‟ reach its end?
The end of a dramatic comedy, when it finally and satis...
Lysander in Act 1 Scene 1 foreshadows the plays
main source of dramatic comedy: Love, “The
course of true love never did r...
The course of love... MSND
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The course of love... MSND

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The role of love in the dramatic comedy of A Midsummer's Night Dream.

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The course of love... MSND

  1. 1. Lysander in Act 1 Scene 1 foreshadows the plays main source of dramatic comedy: Love. “The course of true love never did run smooth.” (line 136) We are going to explore how this idea comes to effect the dramatic comedy of a MSND.
  2. 2. LOVE Requited/ Romantic: When both parties feel the love Parental: Love for your children Unrequited: One party doesn‟t return the love of the other Friendship: affection for your friends Roman comedies were used in schools to teach Latin, even though their plots usually displayed the „immoral‟ triumph of the young lovers over foolish father figures. Can we see the influence of Roman comedy in MSND?
  3. 3. TASK: Describe the love between these characters Theseus and Hippolyta Egeus and Hermia Lysander and Hermia Demetrius and Hermia Demertrius and Helena Helena and Hermia Titania and Oberon Titania and the Indian Boy Puck and Oberon Bottom and Titania
  4. 4. Love (according to Lysander) LYSANDER The course of true love never did run smooth. But either it was different in blood – ... Or else misgraffed in respect of years- ... Both are aware that lovers before Or else it stood upon the choice of merit - ... them have come to Or if there were a sympathy in choice, sad ends and the War, death or sickness did lay siege to it, story of Pyramus Making it momentary as a sound, and Thisbe Swift as a shadow, short as any dream: reminds us that Brief as the lightening in the collied night. love can be a That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth. source of tragedy And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’ as easily as of comedy. The jaws of darkness do devour it up: So quick bright things come to confusion. HERMIA If then true lovers have been ever crossed. It stands as an edict in destiny. Then let us teach our trial patience, Because it is a customary cross, As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs, Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers. (Act 1 Scene 1 Lines 136-157)
  5. 5. The Lovers Hermia (Hermia – the ever-moving messenger of the Greek gods, know to Romans as Mercury) Hermia is the darker and shorter of the two women. Dark hair and skin were considered unfashionable in this period, but before the magic juice distorts their reactions both men perceive Hermia as highly attractive. Hermia is self-assertive, perhaps she takes after her father, and defies not only her father but the Duke. Lysander Lysander for the most part a model young aristocrat. He woos Hermia with poems, songs and gifts, is coolly assertive in his dealings with Egeus and his rival Demetrius, and is smoothly courteous to Theseus. The elopement plan shows his initiative, though his inability to find his way through the wood soon takes away some of our admiration for him. Helena (Helena – means Light) Her name is fitting for her fair coloring, she‟s also tall. She seems at first to be confident of her own attractiveness but having been rejected by Demetrius before the play begins, she has less self-esteem than Hermia and is comparatively timid. Demetrius Demetrius is a less sympathetic figure. Before the play begins he has courted Helena then abandoned her for Hermia. He ridicules Lysander and is unpleasant to Hermia, it is only when the magic juice has been placed on his eyes does he show honour and dignity. He is the only one of the four lovers from whom the spell is never removed.
  6. 6. The Lovers The four young lovers amorous affairs form a central thread of the story. But their love is turned on and off like switch by the application of magic eye-drops, with the result that the two men insult and abuse their sweethearts and all four finally descend to extremely unromantic brawling – another example of how Shakespeare highlights the darker side of comedy. Critics have described MSND as presenting a “detached attitude to such matters at the nature of love and the behaviour of lovers.” It seems there is little to choose between Hermia and Helena, Lysander and Demetrius – so much so that we find ourselves mixing them up just as Robin and Oberon do within the play. The attraction the couples feel for each other seems to have nothing to do with the merit of the person being loved, only with the feelings of the person who is in love with them. Love is entirely in the eye of the beholder. In particular, as the two men‟s views are changed by the application of the fairies‟ magic juice to their eyes, they fall rapidly in and out of love with the two women, adoring and deriding their partners by turns, while confidently proclaiming all the while that their behaviour is prompted by judgement and reason. TASK: Is this unidealistic view of love shocking to a modern viewer?
  7. 7. The Lovers – Courtly Love One of the most influential literary ideas in the medieval period was that of amour courtois, courtly love. It originated with the troubadours of southern France in the 12th century, and its principal characteristics are: The courtly lover idealises his beloved; she, his sovereign lady, occupies an exalted position above him. His feelings for her ennoble him and make him more worthy; her beauty of body and soul makes him long for union with her, not for passion’s sake but as a means of achieving the ultimate in moral excellence. (Courtly love, the New Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics, Alex Preminger and TVF Brogan, 1993)
  8. 8. The Lovers – Courtly Love The important thing to note is that this was not a particularly common (or sensible) way of actually behaving; it was an excuse for poetry. In the development of poetic fashion it began to morph into something less idealistic: BLAZON – an elaborate descriptive list emphasising the physical beauties of the distant beloved. Physical Suffering – the lover became less „ennoble‟ and more pained: sighing, burning, lack of appetite, sleeplessness etc. Perhaps this is because it more visual than being ennoble? The conventional image of a courtly lover by the late 16th century in England was material for satire (to be mocked), particularly on stage, where the poetic attitudes of the lover can be translated into a specifically eccentric physical appearance.
  9. 9. “The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth” The magic juice dropped into the lovers‟ eyes makes them all „madly dote on the next live creature‟ that they see. Thus we have the absurd scenes: 2.2 and 3.2.
  10. 10. The Course of Love Act 3 Scene 2 TASK: • Lines 122-136 Lysander and Helena argue. Why? • Line 136 Lysander says he loves Helena. How does Helena react? • Lines 137-144 Demetrius wakes up and sees Helena. What does he say? • Lines 145-161 Helena is in love with Demetrius. When she hears him say he loves her how does she respond? • Lines 162-176 Lysander and Demetrius argue over who they love. What do they say? • Lines 177-191 Hermia appears, looking for Lysander. What happens next? • Annotate the extracts to identify the conventions of courtly love. • Highlight and label anything significant about the way Shakespeare uses language in these extracts. • How is the comedy created in these extracts? After you‟ve answered the questions on 2:2 and 3:2, draw a representation of the course of the Lovers‟ love. This could be a storyboard, a timeline, a diagram etc. but it must have a series of quotes to show the course of their love.
  11. 11. LYSANDER awakes under the influence of magic and sees Helena. LYSANDER: [Waking] And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake. Transparent Helena! Nature shows art, That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word Is that vile name to perish on my sword! ... Reason becomes the marshal to my will, And leads me to your eyes, where I o'erlook Love's stories, written in Love's richest book. (2:2: Lines 110-115, 126-128) A few minutes later, Demetrius, supposedly also in love with Hermia, wakes to see Helena as his ideal beloved. DEMETRIUS: (Awaking) O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! That pure congealed white, high Taurus' snow, Fann'd with the eastern wind, turns to a crow When thou hold'st up thy hand. O, let me kiss This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss! (3:2: Lines 139-146) But Helena has had enough of this deceiving rhetoric of courtly love, and speaks with articulate fury: HELENA: O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent To set against me for your merriment. If you were civil and knew courtesy, You would not do me thus much injury. Can you not hate me, as I know you do, But you must join in souls to mock me too? If you were men, as men you are in show, You would not use a gentle lady so: To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts, When I am sure you hate me with your hearts. (3:2: Lines 149-156)
  12. 12. The next thing the audience witnesses is a girl-fight. HERMIA: O me! you juggler! you cankerbossom! You thief of love! What! Have you come by night, And stolen my love's heart from him? HELENA: Fine, i' faith! Have you no modesty, no maiden shame, No touch of bashfulness? What! Will you tear Impatient answers from my gentle tongue? Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet you! HERMIA: ‘Puppet!’ why so? Ay, that way goes the game. Now I perceive that she hath made compare Between our statures; she hath urged her height; And with her personage, her tall personage, Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him. And are you grown so high in his esteem Because I am so dwarfish and so low? How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak. How low am I? I am not yet so low But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes. (3:2: Lines 294-308) The last words of the two girls occur in Act 4 Scene 1 and both speeches have a certain ambiguity. HERMIA: Methinks I see these things with parted eye, When every thing seems double. HELENA: So methinks; And I have found Demetrius like a jewel, Mine own, and not mine own. (4:1:Lines 190-195)
  13. 13. Who‟s upset – Act 2 Scene 2 • • • • • • • Analyse the lines listed below to explore the differences in Helena‟s, Lysander‟s and Hermia‟s reactions to what has happened in the woods. For each state: who‟s upset and why. Lines 108-109 Lines 111-112 Lines 123-124 Lines 139-140 Lines 148-150 Lines 151-152 Lines 155-156
  14. 14. An Odd Romance Perhaps to highlight further that love is in the eye of the beholder , magic even brings about a liaison between the queen of the fairies and a lower-class mortal who has temporarily had his head replaced by that of an ass. When Titania embraces Bottom, Shakespeare seems to be telling us that sexual attraction is not only subjective and irrational, but liable at times to take absurd and perverse forms. How does this fit with the origins of dramatic comedy? Comedy highlights that human beings are in fact ridiculous and cannot change. Comedies, therefore, often confirm our view of the world.
  15. 15. An Odd Romance Titania and Bottom In the play’s fairy world, where the courtly romantic conventions are irrelevant, love is considerably more brutal. The love-juice dropped by Oberon on Titania’s eyes carries a malevolent curse. OBERON: What thou seest when thou dost wake, Do it for thy true-love take; Love and languish for his sake. Be it ounce, or cat, or bear, Pard, or boar with bristled hair, In thy eye that shall appear When thou wakest, it is thy dear. Wake when some vile thing is near.(2:2:32- 39) This will not be romantic love, but bestial lust. Oberon and Puck between them engineer Titania’s waking to espy Bottom transformed with an ass’s head. The audience witnesses a coupling that contravenes inter-species taboos, class distinctions, and aesthetic taste (‘My mistress with a monster is in love!’ says Puck). Nevertheless, their two scenes (3:1 and 4:1) have a charm that transcends the incongruous. They emphasise physical pleasure – music, food and drink, lovemaking. TITANIA: Be kind and courteous to this gentleman; Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes; Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,(160) With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries; The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees, And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs, And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes, To have my love to bed and to arise;(3:2: Lines 158-165)
  16. 16. TITANIA: I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again. Mine ear is much enamored of thy note; So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape; And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me, On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee. BOTTOM: Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days. The more the pity that some honest neighbors will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion. (3:2:Line 132- 140) TITANIA: Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed, While I thy amiable cheeks do coy, And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head, And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy. (4:1:Lines 1-4) TITANIA: What, wilt thou hear some music, my sweet love? BOTTOM: I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let's have the tongs and the bones. TITANIA: Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat. TITANIA: Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms. Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away. [Exeunt Fairies] So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle Gently entwist; the female ivy so Enrings the barky fingers of the elm. O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee! (4:1:Lines 35-45)
  17. 17. ANAGNORISIS A moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery. Anagnorisis originally meant recognition in its Greek context, not only of a person but also of what that person stood for.
  18. 18. Happily Ever After... How does the „course of love‟ reach its end? The end of a dramatic comedy, when it finally and satisfyingly comes, will discharge all ignorance and misunderstanding (the moment of anagnorisis), will bring together those who deserve to be so, in marriage or family reconciliation. Marriages and reunions, not death and disharmony, characterise the end of a Shakespearian comedy. How far do you think MSND reaches a moment of anagnorisis? It is notable that the two young women do not speak at all in Act V. Some critics have speculated that they are still in shock at their treatment by their lovers, but it may simply be that they are no longer so significant to the story once they are married and that it would not be proper for young wives to join in the banter over the play.
  19. 19. Lysander in Act 1 Scene 1 foreshadows the plays main source of dramatic comedy: Love, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” (line 136) HOW does this idea come to effect the dramatic comedy of a MSND?

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