LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON
- His plays are masterpieces of psychological realism and depth in drama;
- Believable characters that show the rich diversity of humanity;
- Was influenced by classical and Renaissance ideas about the importance of reason and human individualism;
- Progressed from the attitude of classical (Greek and Latin) tragedies to romances and dramas which hold a humanistic message;
- The plays are infused with folklore-inspired supernatural elements;
- Characters are not driven by religious motivations, but by humanistic ones;
- Presents attitudes that are remote from the conventional Christianity of his time;
- Characters act out of their free will, they are not fatalistically predestined to a certain fate;
- Main themes: love, death, immortality (not in a metaphysical sense).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)
The play is written in a light and humorous tone, features fairy magic, clever dialogue, disguises, mistaken identity, and multiple plots with twists and turns.
- Athens in Antiquity;
- A forest outside Athens;
Main theme: Love
The comedy is an exploration of romantic love, which concludes that love can make us irrational and foolish. Characters fall erratically in and out of love and chase each other through the forest. The Fairy Queen ends up falling in love with a donkey, Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius all suffer from unrequited love. At the end, when the lover’s mismatching is resolved, the comedy reaches its traditional happy ending.
- The natural world
- The supernatural.
Theseus, Duke of Athens, is planning to marry Hippolyta. To entertain them until the wedding, Bottom the weaver and other tradesmen decide to prepare a play for the duke and his bride. The preparations are interrupted by Egeus, an Athenian, who brings his daughter, Hermia, and her two suitors before Theseus. Hermia wants to marry Lysander. The duke orders her to obey her father and marry Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander secretly agree to meet in a wood nearby and flee outside of Athen’s jurisdiction. They tell their plans to Helena, Demetrius’s former lover, and she tells him.
In the forest, the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania are arguing. In spite, Oberon orders Puck to pour love juice on Titania’s eyelids when she is asleep so that she will fall in love with the first thing that appears in front of her eyes after she wakes up. Oberon also asks Puck to pour the love juice on the eyes of an Athenian man (Oberon means Demetrius). Puck confuses Lysander with Demetrius and makes Lysander fall in love with Helena by mistake. Then, Puck magically gives Bottom a donkey head and takes him to Titania, who wakes up and falls in love with him.
Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena are bewildered after waking up and having loving feelings towards the wrong persons. Oberon finds out about Puck’s mistake and breaks the spell on Demetrius. Because the four people end up fighting, the fairies cause them to wander in the dark until they fall asleep. Puck repairs his blunder and when the four wake up, all will be in order: Lysander loves Hermia, and Demetrius loves Helena.
Oberon removes the spell from Titania and restores Bottom to his natural form. Theseus discovers the four lovers in the forest and accepts their marriages. At the wedding feast for the three couples, Bottom’s players present the “comic” tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe and at the end, the fairies dance to bless the three pairs.
Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.
- Puck – Oberon’s jester, also known as Robin Goodfellow. He is a fairy who likes to play pranks on mortals. Although there is no protagonist in the play, Puck is the closest to this function. He has an enchanting and mischievous spirit and he is responsible for most of the complications that arise in the main plot: he mistakes the Athenian men Lysander and Demetrius and causes chaos in the group of young lovers and he transforms Bottom’s head into that of a donkey.
- Oberon – the king of the fairies. Initially, he is fighting with his wife, Titania, because she refuses to let Oberon control a young Indian prince and knight him. As he wants revenge on Titania, Oberon sends Puck to use the love potion on her and causes all the confusion of the play.
- Lysander – a young man in Athens. He is in love with Hermia and wants to marry her, but her father Egeus disagrees. Egeus wants his daughter to marry Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia run away in the forest and he becomes a victim of Puck’s ill-targeted magic. When Lysander wakes up, he falls in love with Helena and the four young people are all very confused until Puck lifts the spell.
POINT OF VIEW
- The point of view in theatre is usually objective;
- It is defined by
- The characters’ speech;
- The characters’ gestures and pantomimic movements.
***DO NOT CONFUSE: dramatic point of view is a feature of prose, in which a narrator reports the events of a scene without revealing a character’s thoughts and feelings.
- In theatre, the tone can belong to:
- The author – present in stage directions;
- The characters – present in the characters’ lines.
- Author’s tone:
- Humorous. After a bleak beginning, in which Hermia faces the death penalty or life as a nun for disobeying her father, the tone becomes light-hearted and humorous about the pitfalls of love. The four young Athenians fall in and out of love because of the magic love juice and point out how erratic and foolish people can be when it comes to romantic feelings.
- The nobles talk in unrhymed iambic pentameter (blank verse) – every second syllable is accented in the five iambs rhythmic pattern;
- The fairies talk in iambic tetrameter – every second syllable is accented in the four trochees rhythmic pattern;
- Ordinary people talk in prose;
- The different types of verse represent the different types of worlds depicted in the play (the verse associated with the fairies has a singsong quality that proves their carefree nature);
- Ample use of wordplay, puns based on the various meanings of a single word – wordplay maintains the comic mood;
- A poetic language that reinforces and mocks the theme of romantic love;
- Hyperbolic language also regarding the theme of love.