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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Midsummer Night's Dream
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1217  Friday, 25 May 2001

[1]     From:   Richard Nathan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 May 2001 14:56:35 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 12.1201 Re: Midsummer Night's Dream

[2]     From:   Rainbow Saari <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 May 2001 08:55:03 +1200
        Subj:   SHK 12.1189 re; Midsummer Night's Dream

[3]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 May 2001 22:06:01 -0500
        Subj:   12:1176 Constancy in MND

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 May 2001 23:37:42 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1201 Re: Midsummer Night's Dream


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Nathan <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 May 2001 14:56:35 +0000
Subject: Re: Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        SHK 12.1201 Re: Midsummer Night's Dream

Robert Peters wrote, concerning A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, "But in the
end the lovers couldn't live together anymore - which makes perfect
sense for me."

Did the couples break up before or after Oberon gave his blessing?  Or
did they cut the blessing?  The blessing becomes rather ludicrous if the
couples can't stay together.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rainbow Saari <
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Date:           Friday, 25 May 2001 08:55:03 +1200
Subject: re; Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        SHK 12.1189 re; Midsummer Night's Dream

Susan St John and students puzzle over WHY Titania would go back to
Oberon after his humiliating treatment of her. Probably because it was
seen as a wife's duty to stick by her husband, regardless. Unfashionable
as such views are now they were the norm in Shakespeare's day.

Other Elizabethan plays contain similarly mind-boggling (to us ) returns
of a woman's affections to a man who has abused her. One that amazed me
is found in Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay; Lord Lacy, who
early in the play falls in love with the commoner Margaret and proposes
to marry her, then decides to choose ' a Spanish lady to be my wife,
chief waiting woman to the Princess Elinor'. He doesn't have the cojones
to say this to Margaret's face, but sends her a letter and 100 pounds.
She opts for life as a nun, if she can't have her love. Just as she's
about to go into the Order Lacy shows up, announces the letter was just
'to try' her constancy, and won't she please still have him? I'd have
kicked him in the aforesaid cojones at this point but Margaret notes
"The flesh is frail"[ meaning hers ] and accepts Lacy as her Lord, love
and husband.

Echoes of the Homily on Marriage, and the tamed  'Shrew' Katarina's "Thy
husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper" etc.

I suspect the audience of the day had no more trouble accepting that
than they did Titania's return to the abusive Oberon. Art, alas,
imitating life.

Al Cacicedo wrote " My sense is that comedy is almost always, maybe
inevitably cruel." I agree. I believe ridicule to be the driving force
behind most laughter. Perhaps it arises out of our sense of relief that
what we are observing is not happening to us? I clearly remember the
first time I ever heard our son laugh. He was one and a half years old
at most, watching me chopping a log into kindling sized bits. Each
stroke of the axe brought forth paroxysms of laughter. His laughter was
HUGE, tears poured down his face. Rather unnerving, such great belly
laughs from such a small body! Of course I can't claim to know what was
going in his mind but it sure looked like 'Thank God that's not
happening to me!'

Rainbow

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 May 2001 22:06:01 -0500
Subject:        12:1176 Constancy in MND

One of the funny things about *MND* is the inversion of the constancy
theme.  The moon, which Juliet calls "the inconstant moon" in the
balcony scene of *Romeo and Juliet*, is the central symbol of the
companion play, *MND*, appearing as it does in all four plots.  Women
are associated with the moon as the etymon of "menstruation" makes
clear, so traditional assumptions are that women are fickle.  In this
play the women except of course Titania, who is fickle only under
influence of a drug, are loyal to their first loves throughout.  It is
the men that are changeable and though that too is in part drug induced,
it is very funny given the changeable  moon  and the cultural assumption
going back at least to Virgil that women are "mobile".  Played with this
emphasis the play always "works".  No use finding deep tragic elements
in the play, though it is true that a production I once saw in Germany,
played at the base of enormous glaciated cliffs, was awesome with the
implication that the characters are manipulated by Fate emblematized in
those beetling rocks.

Cheers for constancy.

John

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 May 2001 23:37:42 -0400
Subject: 12.1201 Re: Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1201 Re: Midsummer Night's Dream

> "Death" and "dead" are uttered twenty-eight times; "dying" and "die"
> occur fourteen times.  The field of "death" appears in nearly fifty
> verses of A Midsummer Night's Dream and is distributed almost evenly
> among the events in the forest and the play at Theseus' wedding...In A
> Midsummer Night's Dream, which has often been called a happy comedy of
> love, "kiss" and "kissing"

Let us not forget that in Elizabethan slang a kiss can be a prelude to
dying.

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