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cheryl_shell
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Re: Interesting idea


Lynx wrote:
This discussion makes me think of the conflict between the mesolithic hunter-gatherer societies and the neolithic farming societies that I've been reading about in a fabulous book called "After the Ice" written by an archaeologist whose name I can't remember. The hunter-gatherers lived in fairly egalitarian societies with a close relationship to nature. Their religions were relatively benign. The new farming societies were rigid, hierarchical, and their religions tended to involve fear and sacrifice. In the play, the forest world gives the characters a kind of freedom that living in the court--the counterpart here of the farming society--does not permit them. Bottom, et. al. perhaps seek a freedom that their social position has up until now denied them. Though Shakespeare certainly keeps them in their place--it is Bottom who has the head of an ass, not Lysander or Demetrius. But on the other hand it is human culture that has given the ass a negative connotation. I suspect that we maintain a deep and subtle longing for the relative simplicity of the hunter/gatherer lifestyle--a kind of mesolithic memory. This also reminds me of the fearful attitude of the New England Puritans towards the forest--look at "Young Goodman Brown" for instance. They projected all of their fears of evil and of human freedom onto the forest, whereas in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" evil is not an element. I am starting to wander too far afield...that's a bad pun, for which I apologize.




A very interesting idea, Lynx!
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Steven Mithen's AFTER THE ICE

[ Edited ]
Yes, Lynx: great post! Here's a link for AtI:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780674019997


cheryl_shell wrote:
A very interesting idea, Lynx!

Lynx wrote:
This discussion makes me think of the conflict between the mesolithic hunter-gatherer societies and the neolithic farming societies that I've been reading about in a fabulous book called "After the Ice" written by an archaeologist whose name I can't remember. ... I suspect that we maintain a deep and subtle longing for the relative simplicity of the hunter/gatherer lifestyle--a kind of mesolithic memory.

Message Edited by pmath on 02-10-200712:30 AM

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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

It is 'a stretch' for us to try to think like Elizabethans, I agree. All the quotes you give could be analysed within the context of the imagery of the magic of forests/woods in Shakespeare, which critics have commented on for centuries but I do not want to go into this further. As you have said elsewhere, others may like to comment.




Everyman wrote:
I believe that to [an Elizabethan audience] any references to forests/woods (and caves) would signify 'the other', a magical, supernatural place.

I suggest that that's quite a stretch.


Henry IV, Part 2 – Act 4, Scene 1.
Archbishop Of York
What is this forest call'd?
Hastings
'Tis Gaultree Forest, an't shall please your grace.
...
Hastings
Now, what news?
Messenger
West of this forest, scarcely off a mile,
In goodly form comes on the enemy;
And, by the ground they hide, I judge their number
Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand.


Titus Andronicus – Act 2, Scene 3.
Aaron
To back thy quarrels, whatsoe'er they be.
Bassianus
Who have we here? Rome's royal empress,
Unfurnish'd of her well-beseeming troop?
Or is it Dian, habited like her,
Who hath abandoned her holy groves
To see the general hunting in this forest?
Tamora
Saucy controller of our private steps!

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 5, Scene 1
SILVIA:
Amen, amen! Go on, good Eglamour,
Out at the postern by the abbey-wall:
I fear I am attended by some spies.
EGLAMOUR:
Fear not: the forest is not three leagues off;
If we recover that, we are sure enough.

Titus Andronicus, Act 2 scene 1
Aaron:
A speedier course than lingering languishment
Must we pursue, and I have found the path.
My lords, a solemn hunting is in hand;
There will the lovely Roman ladies troop:
The forest walks are wide and spacious;
And many unfrequented plots there are
Fitted by kind for rape and villany:
Single you thither then this dainty doe,
And strike her home by force, if not by words:
This way, or not at all, stand you in hope.

Among many others.


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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

[ Edited ]
I think perhaps you are using older editions of the plays with notes by older critics, which is, of course, perfectly acceptable. I also have older versions, which I used at school but I find it instructive to look at the newer interpretations and I like to buy paperback editions when I go to see a play, or when discussing it here, so that I do not spoil my more valuable editions. I also assume that the Barnes & Noble editions contain more up-to-date analyses. (Perhaps Cheryl could comment here.) This is from the Introduction to my 2001 Wordsworth edition of As You Like It (My italics.):-

'As You Like It, most likely written in 1599, is one of Shakespeare's most highly regarded comedies and most frequently performed works. Based on Thomas Lodge's prose romance Rosalynde (1590), the play recounts the love story of Rosalind and Orlando. Roughly divided into three parts, the play features a middle section set in the Forest of Arden, where many aspects of Elizabethan social order are turned inside out. This magical place — where gender roles are reversed, social restrictions loosened, and time suspended—has garnered much critical attention throughout the twentieth century. Scholars frequently compare Arden to the setting in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and analyze the ways in which Shakespeare used this environment to address the social problems of his day, including sexual inequality and changes in the traditional English agrarian life. As You Like It introduces many notable characters, including the clown Touchstone and the insightful, melancholy Jaques—the source of the famous line “All the world’s a stage.” Rosalind, who disguises herself as the boy Ganymede, raises many interesting debates on homosexuality, gender blending, androgyny, and sexual identity. With the rising influence of feminist studies and the application of new historicism, scholars have applied a previously unexplored set of questions to the play. Chief among them is the nature of gender relations, the role of eroticism, and the degree to which patriarchal ideals are maintained in the play. In addition, emerging historical data about Elizabethan popular culture has given scholars new insight into the significance of sport and the influence of philosophical ideals in the play.

A. Stuart Daley (1993) examines the significance of the hunting scenes which take place in the Forest of Arden. While earlier critics have suggested that the scenes may reflect the social prestige and noble background of Senior Duke, Daley analyzes the scenes in light of what scholars now know about upper class hunts for entertainment versus the woodmen's hunt out of necessity. Applying new knowledge about the cultural and ideological developments of the period, Robert Schwartz (1989) considers the role of Jaques, referred to as a libertine by Duke Senior. Schwartz believes that this term refers to the Familist society, an antinomian sect who believed that man could be freed from natural sin through a spiritual awakening linked to nature. Gene Fendt (1995) juxtaposes audience reaction to the play in Elizabethan and modern times in his study of the cathartic role of the comedy. He focuses specifically on the function of the Forest of Arden scenes which he refers to as “the green world,” linking the role of such characters as Jaques and Touchstone with the inspiration of empathy among the audience.'

But we are not discussing As You Like it....yet:smileyhappy:






Everyman wrote:
I do not agree that Arden is not 'magical' - it is arcadian, another place, therefore a magical place outside of the audience's experience.

That is using magical in a totally different senses. In that sense, many, many places can be magical -- castles, bedchambers, gardens... In fact, that sort of magic doesn't matter where it is, but what goes on there.

Those are totally different senses of magic than the magic of the forest in MND.

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-10-200704:38 AM

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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

As I said before, there are multiple uses of "magical." It would be good if the introduction to your Wordsworth would have recognized that.

Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

The magic in MND clearly has aspects of the supernatural.

When we discuss "As You Like It" we can see whether we also find supernatural forces at work there, or whether the "magic" arises from the way we view purely human actions on the part of the characters.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits' but an online definition is 'the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effect or forces by invoking the supernatural' (I have also used the word supernatural). And because I do not have access to a very large personal library like yours, I use my nearest equivalent, the internet. Which definition do you use and don't you use your library to support your views?




Everyman wrote:
As I said before, there are multiple uses of "magical." It would be good if the introduction to your Wordsworth would have recognized that.

Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

The magic in MND clearly has aspects of the supernatural.

When we discuss "As You Like It" we can see whether we also find supernatural forces at work there, or whether the "magic" arises from the way we view purely human actions on the part of the characters.


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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??

[ Edited ]
It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'of or relating to magic' 'produced as if by magic','wonderful, enchanting'. Or the OED definition of magical: 'the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits' (an online definition gives 'the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effect or forces by invoking the supernatural' (I have also used the word supernatural.) And because I do not have access to a very large personal library like yours, I use my nearest equivalent, the internet, together with what few books I have available. Which definition do you use and don't you use your library to support your views?

Perhaps you could give us your definition of magical and tell us what the Notes to your editions say about the forest setting in a play entitled Midsummer Night's Dream, Midsummer then being the Eve of May Day as only three seasons were observed. Maybe you prefer to think of the Elizabethans celebrating it as the Christian St John's Eve, without any magical or supernatural elements? I haven't seen a rendition which does this but it would be perfectly feasible.

It would be good if others too could let us know what they think the forest represents, whether the word magical is appropriate and what their Notes say. (What, for instance do the B&N Notes say about the forest?) I note that Cheryl, in her Introduction, has used the words 'mystical forest'. (Mystical = 'Of or having a spiritual reality or import not apparent to the intelligence of senses'.) Do folks see MND as a mystery play?




Everyman wrote:
As I said before, there are multiple uses of "magical." It would be good if the introduction to your Wordsworth would have recognized that.

Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

The magic in MND clearly has aspects of the supernatural.

When we discuss "As You Like It" we can see whether we also find supernatural forces at work there, or whether the "magic" arises from the way we view purely human actions on the part of the characters.

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-10-200703:29 PM

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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

Precisely what I said: there are at least two senses of magical, one involving fairies and supernatural forces, and one not. When I say "the evening we had together was magical," there is no sense of fairies there.

Clearly the magic in MND is of the fairy kind; I hope we can agree on that.

Whether the Forest of Arden is magical in either sense of the term is something we can discuss when we get there, though I think we can also agree that there are no fairies in AYLI.

We need also to realize that some words have changed meaning between Shakespeare's day and ours, so it is not always safe to rely on modern dictionary definitions in construing some of the finer points of the plays. For that, I go to several sources; Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (although I have only an abridged edition and not the full original edition), Onions's A Shakespeare Glossary, and more recently Crystals' Shakespeare's Words.

As to using the Internet, yes it can be a valuable resource, particularly for original texts and for images, but one must also recognize that it is unregulated, and that web sites do not necessarily have the same editorial standards that a published work is more likely to have. Wikipedia, for instance, has some excellent material, and I know it's a source you have frequently cited in the past, but it also has some slanted, and even some completely false, material. Not that published books can't contain errors, but having gone through the editorial process, particularly when they are published by reputable publishers, they are much less likely to. Thus I prefer, when a point is important, to confirm what I read on the Internet with more authoritative sources. (I know that the posts here are just discussion and not formal writing, but FWIW our court system does not allow attorneys to cite to internet sources unless they are from official government documents posted on official government websites, and most reputable peer reviewed journals look on internet citations with grave suspicion if they allow them at all.)




Choisya wrote:
It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits' but an online definition is 'the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effect or forces by invoking the supernatural' (I have also used the word supernatural). And because I do not have access to a very large personal library like yours, I use my nearest equivalent, the internet. Which definition do you use and don't you use your library to support your views?




Everyman wrote:
As I said before, there are multiple uses of "magical." It would be good if the introduction to your Wordsworth would have recognized that.

Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

The magic in MND clearly has aspects of the supernatural.

When we discuss "As You Like It" we can see whether we also find supernatural forces at work there, or whether the "magic" arises from the way we view purely human actions on the part of the characters.





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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??

It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'of or relating to magic' 'produced as if by magic','wonderful, enchanting'.

Actually, it may indeed be, but that's of no matter.

If we use magical in the broad sense of wonderful, produced as if by magic, then the word actually has very little objective meaning. You or I could call anything magical we wanted to; I could call last night's sunset magical, you could call the appearance of frost on your windows magical, and we would both have a legitimate basis for doing so. I know that some people still consider Google's ability to produce just the information they want magical.

So the term magic in that sense really just means "anything that somebody wants to call magical." To that extent, all of our discussion has been pretty meaningless. Are Shakespeare's play magical? For you, they are if you think they are; they aren't if you think they aren't. And similarly for me. It is purely subjective, with no objective element even to start a discussion around.

So trying to discuss whether a given play, or the mention of a forest in Henry IV, is in that sense magical, is pretty silly. If anybody thinks it is, then to them it is, and there is no standard for discussion.

Perhaps Cheryl has a better idea whether the term magic, as used by Shakespeare, had the looser sense of including something of purely natural origin but appearing wonderful (such as a sunset or frost on the window), or whether for him the term implied at least some recourse to supernatural powers or elements.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??

It would be good if others too could let us know what they think the forest represents,

I don't think anybody has disputed that in MND the forest represents a place of magic. That has never been an issue.

The issues have been three.

1. When the characters, at the time they decided to go into the forest, went there intending or expecting that they were going to a magical place with fairies in it, or whether it was just a place they were going to and the fairies and magic were unexpected.

2. Whether Shakespeare's original audience, knowing nothing of the play, when Lysander tells Hermia to steal forth from her father's house and meet him "in the wood, a league without the town, where I did meet the once with Helena" to run away to his aunt's house with him, immediately thought to themselves: "ah, they're going into the forest, we should expect something magical to happen."

3. Whether whenever a forest is mentioned in Shakespeare, including mentions in the history plays of battle sites, automatically think of those forests as magical places.

Those are the specific questions I believe we are in disagreement about, not whether the forest in MND comes to represent a place of magic, which is obvious.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

Semantics I think. When you wrote earlier 'The magic he wants to create can best - perhaps only - take place in a forest for a variety of reasons I've thought some about but aren't relevant here.' you clearly meant exactly the same kind of magic that I meant when I originally wrote that the forest in MND was a magical place. I think everyone here would know exactly what kind of magic was being discussed and it wasn't conjurors tricks, frost on glass or any other secondary, imaginative or way out meaning. We are not writing in Shakespearean language here so what Onion's or Crystal's say is not apposite. What, in any case, do Samuel Johnson, Onion's and Crystal's et al say about the words magic and magical - you have not cited them?

As for the use of the internet, we are not in a court room or an examination hall here. In any case, students, if not lawyers, are encouraged to use it as a resource so I do not see why readers here cannot do so. (Both my daughters are currently doing their Masters and they frequently cite internet sources.) Many of the millions of entries are authoritative and are taken from published, edited works which are cited. If they are not then you can say so and I often say 'article' or 'essay' to make this clear. However, many such articles and essays are just as valid as opinions written on these boards. Everyone knows the drawbacks of Wikipedia but it is nevertheless a useful brief point of reference for some things. If I am unsure of a Wikipedia reference I usually back it up with something else less brief. As a onetime professional researcher I believe I can make a reasonable judgement about such things. Not everyone has a large library (or can get to one) and Moderators, like modern teachers, have always encouraged the internet as a resource and given links themselves. Notes written by academics in published books (which I often give) are also an authoritative source.

If you think that your authoritative sources are better than any others here then please cite them, bearing in mind that what is 'authoritative' can also be a subjective judgement. Critical references have changed throughout the centuries and to cite, say, Coleridge, Dover Wilson, Quiller Couch et al in a college essay today, without also citing more modern criticism, would not be considered sufficient. You would, for instance, be expected to cite academics like Tomalin, Eagleton and others writing from a Feminist, Marxist or Queer (I hate that word!) perspective. Even my 16 year old grand-daughter is expected to use such references for her GCSE examinations. That being said, I would be interested to see some references from Coleridge, Dover Wilson and/or Quiller Couch about Celtic folklore, forests, woods and magical and/or supernatural references in MND or other Shakespearean plays if you would kindly look them up for us.




Everyman wrote:
Precisely what I said: there are at least two senses of magical, one involving fairies and supernatural forces, and one not. When I say "the evening we had together was magical," there is no sense of fairies there.

Clearly the magic in MND is of the fairy kind; I hope we can agree on that.

Whether the Forest of Arden is magical in either sense of the term is something we can discuss when we get there, though I think we can also agree that there are no fairies in AYLI.

We need also to realize that some words have changed meaning between Shakespeare's day and ours, so it is not always safe to rely on modern dictionary definitions in construing some of the finer points of the plays. For that, I go to several sources; Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (although I have only an abridged edition and not the full original edition), Onions's A Shakespeare Glossary, and more recently Crystals' Shakespeare's Words.

As to using the Internet, yes it can be a valuable resource, particularly for original texts and for images, but one must also recognize that it is unregulated, and that web sites do not necessarily have the same editorial standards that a published work is more likely to have. Wikipedia, for instance, has some excellent material, and I know it's a source you have frequently cited in the past, but it also has some slanted, and even some completely false, material. Not that published books can't contain errors, but having gone through the editorial process, particularly when they are published by reputable publishers, they are much less likely to. Thus I prefer, when a point is important, to confirm what I read on the Internet with more authoritative sources. (I know that the posts here are just discussion and not formal writing, but FWIW our court system does not allow attorneys to cite to internet sources unless they are from official government documents posted on official government websites, and most reputable peer reviewed journals look on internet citations with grave suspicion if they allow them at all.)




Choisya wrote:
It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits' but an online definition is 'the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effect or forces by invoking the supernatural' (I have also used the word supernatural). And because I do not have access to a very large personal library like yours, I use my nearest equivalent, the internet. Which definition do you use and don't you use your library to support your views?









Everyman wrote:
Precisely what I said: there are at least two senses of magical, one involving fairies and supernatural forces, and one not. When I say "the evening we had together was magical," there is no sense of fairies there.

Clearly the magic in MND is of the fairy kind; I hope we can agree on that.

Whether the Forest of Arden is magical in either sense of the term is something we can discuss when we get there, though I think we can also agree that there are no fairies in AYLI.

We need also to realize that some words have changed meaning between Shakespeare's day and ours, so it is not always safe to rely on modern dictionary definitions in construing some of the finer points of the plays. For that, I go to several sources; Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (although I have only an abridged edition and not the full original edition), Onions's A Shakespeare Glossary, and more recently Crystals' Shakespeare's Words.

As to using the Internet, yes it can be a valuable resource, particularly for original texts and for images, but one must also recognize that it is unregulated, and that web sites do not necessarily have the same editorial standards that a published work is more likely to have. Wikipedia, for instance, has some excellent material, and I know it's a source you have frequently cited in the past, but it also has some slanted, and even some completely false, material. Not that published books can't contain errors, but having gone through the editorial process, particularly when they are published by reputable publishers, they are much less likely to. Thus I prefer, when a point is important, to confirm what I read on the Internet with more authoritative sources. (I know that the posts here are just discussion and not formal writing, but FWIW our court system does not allow attorneys to cite to internet sources unless they are from official government documents posted on official government websites, and most reputable peer reviewed journals look on internet citations with grave suspicion if they allow them at all.)




Choisya wrote:
It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits' but an online definition is 'the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effect or forces by invoking the supernatural' (I have also used the word supernatural). And because I do not have access to a very large personal library like yours, I use my nearest equivalent, the internet. Which definition do you use and don't you use your library to support your views?




Everyman wrote:
As I said before, there are multiple uses of "magical." It would be good if the introduction to your Wordsworth would have recognized that.

Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

The magic in MND clearly has aspects of the supernatural.

When we discuss "As You Like It" we can see whether we also find supernatural forces at work there, or whether the "magic" arises from the way we view purely human actions on the part of the characters.








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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places

I certainly was not using the word magical to imply something 'natural in origin' like a sunset or frost on a window etc. and I think most people would know that. Nor have I attempted to define 'the term magic, as used by Shakespeare'. I have said that IMO the Elizabethans saw forest/woods as magical places - cf The Enchanted Forest reference I cited - 'magical' as defined by the OED 1 the supposed art of influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of the spirits'. The fact that forests are used in a non-magical/mysterious/supernatural sense in other Shakespearean plays does not mean that they did not have magical/mysterious/supernatural significance in the folklore of the day.

Perhaps if you gave your own definition of 'magical' in relation to MND it might be more useful than to go on criticising my use of the word? Or maybe it would help everyone if you cited some of your authoritative references on the subject?

br>

Everyman wrote:
It isn't fairylike to use the primary meaning of magic as in my Oxford Encyclopaedic Dictionary Everyman: 'of or relating to magic' 'produced as if by magic','wonderful, enchanting'.

Actually, it may indeed be, but that's of no matter.

If we use magical in the broad sense of wonderful, produced as if by magic, then the word actually has very little objective meaning. You or I could call anything magical we wanted to; I could call last night's sunset magical, you could call the appearance of frost on your windows magical, and we would both have a legitimate basis for doing so. I know that some people still consider Google's ability to produce just the information they want magical.

So the term magic in that sense really just means "anything that somebody wants to call magical." To that extent, all of our discussion has been pretty meaningless. Are Shakespeare's play magical? For you, they are if you think they are; they aren't if you think they aren't. And similarly for me. It is purely subjective, with no objective element even to start a discussion around.

So trying to discuss whether a given play, or the mention of a forest in Henry IV, is in that sense magical, is pretty silly. If anybody thinks it is, then to them it is, and there is no standard for discussion.

Perhaps Cheryl has a better idea whether the term magic, as used by Shakespeare, had the looser sense of including something of purely natural origin but appearing wonderful (such as a sunset or frost on the window), or whether for him the term implied at least some recourse to supernatural powers or elements.


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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests/woods as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places??

[ Edited ]
Everyman wrote:
'The issues have been three'.

'I don't think anybody has disputed that in MND the forest represents a place of magic. That has never been an issue. It has been an issue because you have disputed my use of the word magical in describing the forest.'

'When the characters, at the time they decided to go into the forest, went there intending or expecting that they were going to a magical place with fairies in it, or whether it was just a place they were going to and the fairies and magic were unexpected...Whether Shakespeare's original audience, knowing nothing of the play, when Lysander tells Hermia to steal forth from her father's house and meet him "in the wood, a league without the town, where I did meet the once with Helena" to run away to his aunt's house with him, immediately thought to themselves: "ah, they're going into the forest, we should expect something magical to happen'."

I did not say that the characters expected something magical to happen. My contention is that an Elizabethan audience, who thought of forests/woods as magical 'Enchanted' places, would see the mention of and reference by the characters to forest/woods as a foreshadowing of some magical experience about to happen, especially as the title of the play is Midsummer Night's Dream - a time when the spirits/faries were supposed to be abroad.

Whether whenever a forest is mentioned in Shakespeare, including mentions in the history plays of battle sites, automatically think of those forests as magical places....Those are the specific questions I believe we are in disagreement about.

I have not said that this applies to all the plays, only that in the Elizabethan consciousness forests/woods were 'enchanted' and I gave references to support that, references in fact which can be found in many a child's book with fairy tales dating from the Renaissance period and before. 'The dark path of the fairy tale forest lies in the shadows of our imagination, the depths of our unconscious. To travel to the wood, to face its dangers, is to emerge transformed by this experience.' J R R Tolkein 'On Fairy Stories'.

I have nothing further to say on this subject.

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-10-200710:40 PM

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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical place.

Yes, we are agreed that the magic Shakespeare wants to create in MND is supernatural magic. Which is quite different from the use of the word as the Wordsworth edition editor used it.

As to whether there is any obligation for students today to cite "academics like Tomalin, Eagleton and others writing from a Feminist, Marxist or Queer (I hate that word!) perspective," that would depend on the professor. Some might want those limited perspectives. But if you had read Francine Prose's book now under discussion here, you would find that there are also contemporary faculty who would not, and who think that such limited perspectives are detrimental, rather than contributory to, a full understanding of a work. But that's not a discussion for this board, and now that we've each had our say on it, we should return to MND, the text under consideration.
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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places

I certainly was not using the word magical to imply something 'natural in origin' like a sunset or frost on a window etc. and I think most people would know that. Nor have I attempted to define 'the term magic, as used by Shakespeare'. I have said that IMO the Elizabethans saw forest/woods as magical places

We aren't in disagreement that the Elizabethans saw that forests could be magical places. That's obvious. So could caves, so could meadows (fairy rings), so could many places.

What you said that I disagreed with was that the Elizabethans would immediately see any and every reference to a forest as being automatically a reference to a magic place. Your exact words were that you "believe that to [an Elizabethan audience] any references to forests/woods (and caves) would signify 'the other', a magical, supernatural place." (emphasis mine.)

I simply disagree with that position (which you have cited no basis for).

I have no reason to believe that when in Henry IV the audience hears the following exchange

Hastings
Now, what news?
Messenger
West of this forest, scarcely off a mile,
In goodly form comes on the enemy;
And, by the ground they hide, I judge their number
Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand.

on hearing the word "forest" in that context they automatically think "ah, a magical, supernatural place."

Perhaps you are drawing back from that initial position you took, in which case we can probably find some points of agreement.

But if you continue to believe that every time a character in a play uttered the word "forest" the Elizabethan audience immediately thought "ah, a place where non-natural magical things happen," we are simply in disagreement on that, and I doubt that any further discussion will change either of our minds on the point.
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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests/woods as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places??



Choisya wrote:
Everyman wrote:
'I don't think anybody has disputed that in MND the forest represents a place of magic. That has never been an issue. It has been an issue because you have disputed my use of the word magical in describing the forest.'


Not so. The forest in MND is clearly a place where supernatural magic takes place. I believe that we both used the term, relative to this play, in that sense, and are, as far as I can tell, in perfect agreement on it.
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mef6395
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Re: Act I: The Court

My interpretation of the Court vs the Woods setting is that Love is such a complex thing that whether one uses his/her mind (Court = stability, reason) or his/her heart (Woods = magic, madness) one would still be in for a merry ride!
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mef6395
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??


Everyman wrote:
It would be good if others too could let us know what they think the forest represents,

I don't think anybody has disputed that in MND the forest represents a place of magic. That has never been an issue.

The issues have been three.

1. When the characters, at the time they decided to go into the forest, went there intending or expecting that they were going to a magical place with fairies in it, or whether it was just a place they were going to and the fairies and magic were unexpected.

2. Whether Shakespeare's original audience, knowing nothing of the play, when Lysander tells Hermia to steal forth from her father's house and meet him "in the wood, a league without the town, where I did meet the once with Helena" to run away to his aunt's house with him, immediately thought to themselves: "ah, they're going into the forest, we should expect something magical to happen."

3. Whether whenever a forest is mentioned in Shakespeare, including mentions in the history plays of battle sites, automatically think of those forests as magical places.

Those are the specific questions I believe we are in disagreement about, not whether the forest in MND comes to represent a place of magic, which is obvious.





Could be that the characters have always known that the forest was a magical place but in going there they did not think that the fairies to be playing tricks on them.

-- Lou
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??



mef6395 wrote:

Everyman wrote:
It would be good if others too could let us know what they think the forest represents,

I don't think anybody has disputed that in MND the forest represents a place of magic. That has never been an issue.

The issues have been three.

1. When the characters, at the time they decided to go into the forest, went there intending or expecting that they were going to a magical place with fairies in it, or whether it was just a place they were going to and the fairies and magic were unexpected.



Well, I suppose that when you use "anybody" you imply that it is someone who can be sited in a document of somekind, but this "anybody" is about to make it an issue.
Step back for a second and consider this. Perhaps the forest in and of itself is not magical. Perhaps Sh's audience didn't think "oh, forest, this is going to be magical". Perhaps what makes it magical is that it is taking place at night. Would the forest been as mystical, magical, dreamy at say 12 noon. With that being said the magic could have happended anywhere, it's just that fairies are not remembered as sprites living at the beach. Although, I don't have a lot of links or site the so called experts I do have my gut feeling and shouldn't sh be felt from within each and every one of us.

carmen
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For Choisya: Stephen Greenblatt's WILL IN THE WORLD

[ Edited ]
Choisya, your ability to find very useful material on the Web is magical, and many of us here have greatly benefited from your professional research skills: you're our fairy godmother!

Thanks for taking the time to give us quotes from your print sources. I'm currently reading Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, and learning a lot about the issues of WS's time:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780393327373

Everyman wrote:
Although you have a magical ability to search the internet and find sources that support your views, I doubt that you would claim to be a fairy or to have supernatural powers.

Choisya wrote:
This is from the Introduction to my 2001 Wordsworth edition of As You Like It ... :-

This magical place — where gender roles are reversed, social restrictions loosened, and time suspended—has garnered much critical attention throughout the twentieth century. Scholars frequently compare Arden to the setting in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and analyze the ways in which Shakespeare used this environment to address the social problems of his day, ... .

Message Edited by pmath on 02-11-200704:45 PM

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