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Midsummer Night's Dream

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Midsummer Night's Dream

Questions and Answers

1. What does Shakespeare accomplish by setting most of the action at night and in the wood? Explain thoroughly. Use examples.

Setting most of the action at night and in the woods creates a dreamlike world. There is no other place that holds more myth than the forest. Obernon makes clear that nighttime is fairies' time. Theseus, who is present during the daylight, represents reason.The visions of fairies and magic are all related to the nighttime forest setting. Shakespeare was interested in how dreams worked, in how the events in the play transpired, and how time seems to change and loses track. Throughout the entire play, the young lovers are overcome by the magical power of the woods. They are put into a situation that is unrealistic which leads to bizarre mishaps. Even uncanny incidents happen to the fairies of the woods. Titania is put under a love spell and falls in the love with the ass-headed Nick Bottom. Puck reminds us in the end that if the play has offended anyone, they should simply remember it as being a dream. This helps make the play an incredible occurrence, rather than an intense drama.

2. Explain how Theseus represents the voice of reason and moderation. Be specific. Use examples and quotes (include act and line numbers)

Theseus represents the voice of reason and moderation in the play because he seems to be the only normal character left. He only appears in the play during the daytime, when nothing magical occurs. He is the only character who shows complete sanity in the dreamlike fantasy world around him. He is the Duke of Athens so many people come to him with their problems. When Egeus comes to Theseus about the problem he is having with his daughter, Hermia, Theseus takes power over the situation. He explains to Hermia that if she goes against her father's rules, by his words, she will be sentenced to death or sent to a convent. (Act 1, Scene 1, Pages 4 and 5, Lines 30-34). He states, "For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself to fit your fancies to your father's will; Or else the law of Athens yields you up,- which by no means we may extenuate,- to death, or to a vow of single life." Hermia is so in love that she can not make a reasonable decision, so she runs off into the imaginative woods with Lysander. After Theseus finds the young lovers and listens to their crazy story of mishaps, he does not readily believe them. Hippolyta tries to reassure him that they are telling the truth. Theseus states, "More strange than true: I never may believe these antique fables, nor these fairy toys. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends (Act V, Scene 1, Page 54, lines 2-5). He believes that the darkness of love has a way of exciting the imagination, making things hard to follow and undoubtedly insane. He does not believe in fantasy, but takes things from knowledge of truth, and for him, seeing is believing.

3. What precipitates the quarrel between Obernon and Titania? How does their quarrel affect the outside world? Be specific. Use examples and quotes (include act and line numbers)

The quarrel between Obernon and Titania begins when Titania refuses to let Obernon make a henchman out of an Indian Prince (Act II, Scene 1). When he sends Puck into the woods to find the love-potion flower, Puck cast a spell over the young lovers in to woods (Act II, Scene II, Page 23, Line 9 and 10). Puck states, "Churl, upon thy eyes I throw all the power this charm doth owe." This causes Lysander and Demetrius to fall in love with Helena accidentally. Helena is utterly confused when Lysander falls in love with her for she cries, "Do not say so, Lysander; Say not so. What though he love your Hermia?" (Act II, Scene II, Page 24, Line 6 and 7.) Lysander replies, "Not Hermia, but Helena I love." (Act II, Scene II, Page 24, Line 11) Believing she is being ridiculed, Helena says, "Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?" (Act II, Scene II, Page 24, Line21.) Puck does the same thing to Demetrius, causing him to fall in love with Helena (Act III, Scene II.) "O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eye," (Act III, Scene II, Page 35, Line 26 and 27). This is what Demetrius says to Helena after he discovers his love for her. Helena, again feeling she is being made fun of says, "O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent in merriment to set against me for you merriment. But you must join in souls to mock me too?"(Act III, Scene II, Page 35 and 36, Line 34, 35, and 3). This causes most of the difficulty in love during the play for it sends the young lovers on a wild goose chase after each other in the woods. Near the end of the play Theseus and Egeus must all go into the woods to search for the young lovers. However, the quarrel also affects Titania and Nick Bottom. When Puck turns Nick Bottom's head into that of an ass (Act III, Scene 1), Titania awakes to him and having been cursed with the love potion, immediately falls in love with him. She says, "On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee" (Act III, Scene 1, Page 30, Line 1.) After this occurs, Bottom's fellow thespians are in desperation when they can not find him." This leads to most of the comical sense of the play.

4. Early in the play, Lysander observes, "the course of true love never did run smooth." Apply this observation to the love relationships between Theseus and Hippolyta, the two young lovers, Titania and Obernon, and Pyramus and Thisby. Be sure to cite examples, using quotes (act and line numbers). In other words, how does the story develop the theme that "love is unpredictable."

In this quote, Lysander is trying to comfort Hermia in her depression. If Hermia does not marry Demetrius, her life could be at risk. This quote represents the major theme of love's difficulty. The relationship between Theseus and Hippolyta is a very strange one. They are absent through most of the action in the play and do not return again until the end. They are romanticized in the play, but they do not belong to the magical world around them. They remain in absolute control of their emotions and actions and they drive out the dreamlike sense of the fantasy world. In the beginning Theseus states, "Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword, and won thy love, doing thee injuries," (Page 1, Act 1, Scene 1, lines 17 and 18). Theseus had to win the love of Hippolyta in battle, and was wounded and defeated. However, he will marry



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