Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: One Wild Night!

Okay, so I'll admit, I'm a nerd. 

I discovered Shakespeare and have been drawn to his witty and imaginative works for years.  I named my cat, a black and white tuxedo, Puck, after the famous fairy sprite that causes so much havoc in the human world.  

My own mischief maker, Puck.  The red tabby beside him is Samhain

 Many of the quotes we toss back and forth today came from Shakespeare's pen, and some of our ideas about fairies came from his great work, too. 
Michelle Pfieffer as Titiania, 1999
Now, Shakespeare's fairy realm is nothing but imagination.  Titiania, the Fairy Queen in his play is not based on legend, but on his own imaginative works. Still, the 'Dream' survives today. The play is brilliant, combining several personal stories into one magnificent theatre stage work.  


In "Dream", Shakespeare shows us a little bit of the fairy world, as he depicts a husband-wife squabble in the royal court of the fairies. He also shows us the theatre player's world, as the common folk of the village join together to present a play in honor of the Duke's wedding feast. The players meet together in the woods to rehearse, and of course their trespass into the magical woods attracts the attention of the fairies as well. This is how poor Mr. Bottom is captured and transformed from his human self into a sort of donkey man beast--all because of the fairy king, Oberon's, desire to make sport of his estranged wife. Bottom garners the love of a besotted fairy, as I put it last time, she falls in love with an ass . . . . a spiteful joke by her fairy lord husband. That isn't romantic, but it does give the audience some great comic relief as they observe Titiania fawning over the donkey man. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the play.

The course of true love never did run smooth.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1. 1

 "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania." King Oberon to his queen, Titiania as they chance to meet in the forest
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2. 1

 "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"  Said by Puck, mischievous Fairy sprite as he observes the mortals in the wood.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 2

I love this one that follows as it gives me the vision of a graveyard in the lonely moonlight:

 Night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 2

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
                      Helena, scene i

 And yet, to say the 

truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.

  • Bottom, scene i


Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold
  • Theseus, scene i

And so the play ends with Puck's famous speech: 

"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

A fitting end to a wild, imaginative play---if you don't like it, remember, it was just a dream! And a beautiful dream at that, with fairies, magic, true love and mistaken identities and mistaken affections. 
The morning after: Helena, Demetrius, Lysander and Hermia look a bit confused after their wild night!

Was that really a dream, or did that crazy shit really happen to us in the dark of the forest???

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