Appearance and reality in Midsummer Night's Dream

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  • Appearance and reality
    • Setting
      • Forest - irony is that audience have to suspend reality to imagine the setting
        • Oberon describes the flower things solely by language imagery: 'with luscious woodbine, with sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine'
        • Funny how mechanicals don't get this - repetition of 'present': 'present a wall', 'horned moon present'
        • Fairy: 'the cowslips tall her pensioners be' - implies the fairies are small but doesn't mean Shakespeare had to use short people to show this!
          • however some productions have cast children to be the fairies
        • R. W. Dent: 'to the Elizabethan the imagination ideally functioned as an essential servant to the understanding'
      • Granville-Barker - production mirrored how it was performed in 1600s - simple set with two clear scenes of woods and Athenian court
      • Moon
        • Belief that fall of man made area from moon to earth imperfect & unstable
          • Earth love over divine love was unreliable & impertant
            • Egeus says Lysander 'bewitch'd the bosom of my child' by moonlight
          • Symbol of inconstancy & imperfection - L & D
        • Lesley Jordan: 'just adds to the mystical, dream-like setting and nature to it'
          • References to lunar time which rules play
            • 'four happy days bring in another moon' 1.1.2
            • 'her silver visage in the watery glass' tommorow
          • symbol of madness, fertility & chastity which running theme throughout the play
        • personfied: 'pale in her anger' due to Oberon & Titania's quarrel
      • Globe: very minimal lighting & special affects & had to transportable to noble house
        • So any reference to setting/lighting has symbolic meaning
    • Paradox is resolved at end of play & ends with marriage & symmetry
      • Oberon and Titania dance once they make up - symbolises unity
        • Pictured for centuries as cosmic dance of elements
        • Oberon: 'take hands with me' renewal of love and harmony
      • 'A Midsummer Night': Elizabethan festival - linked to mayhem & chaos
    • Fairies
      • Untitled
    • Magic
      • Bottom as an ass tries to change his speech but just filled with malapropisms
        • 'I have an exposition of sleep come upon me'
        • Social mobility not possible for lower class characters
        • Does speak truth: 'reason and love keep little company together nowadays'
          • Hunter: 'to talk more sense than any of the other characters'
    • Audience
      • Maurice Hunt: 'a certain haziness not only in the character's mind but in those of the viewers as well'
      • Ending suggests they are still in dream
        • Theseus: 'tis almost fairy time'
        • Heroic couplets: 'Trip away, make no stay;/meet me all by break of day.'
          • short-lined passages gives song-like quality
          • Hazy imagery 'glimmering light 'the dead and drowsy fire'
      • Hippolyta talks of the lovers' accounts to have 'something of great constancy'
        • The magic and appearances they saw was  real
          • Reflects audiences's views on unexplainable occurrences e.g. bad harvest in 1590s explained due to Oberon & Titania's fight
      • None of it is a reality to them!!!
        • Irony that Theseus dismisses the stories as antique fables' when he is fictional character played by an actor

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