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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Limited perspectives.

I do not necessarily think that Shakespeare wants to create supernatural magic and stand by my original definition. In the US supernatural is often equated with 'divine' or religious and I do not agree with that narrow definition. There are no faculties in UK universities who would not include these perspectives, which are not'limited' if they are included alongside other points of view. One could equally say that not discussing them was 'limited'. There may be religious reasons for Queer studies not being discussed in the US but there no such reasons over here and it would be against our laws on discrimination if there were, ditto feminism.




Everyman wrote:
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 : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??



mef6395 wrote:
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


That's true. It could be. It's a possibility worth considering.

Do you see anything in the text to support that? Not that the absence of anything supporting it necessarily invalidates the theory, but it would be nice if it were supported somewhere -- if, for example, one of the characters says something like "we should have expected this to happen in this enchanted forest" or something along those lines? I don't recall such passages, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

Do you think that the mechanicals (Quince, Bottom, et. al.) had thought of the forest as a magical place they would have chosen it as the location to practice their play?
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests/woods as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places??

Could define exactly what you mean by 'supernatural magic' please and give references. In previous discussions on these boards 'supernatural' has been linked to the divine, which I do not believe was Shakespeare's intent.




Everyman wrote:


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

Carmenere_lady wrote:
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.

That's a really nice point (which I kick myself for not having realized right away.:smileyhappy: )

The gloom of night is certainly a major contributing factor. (Not to mention that love may be more likely to bloom in the night than by daylight.)

It would help explain why Lysander wasn't concerned to send Hermia into the forest alone to meet him there. He mentions that this was the place where they met Helena "to do observance to a morn of May." If he only had seen the spot in the morning light, under your theory it wouldn't have any sense of magic (or at least not of bad magic; the morning might have been magical in the non-supernatural sense of the word) and there would have been no sense on his part that it was potentially dangerous to send her out there. Also, being in the forest in the morning wouldn't give you the sense of how easily it would be to get lost in the same forest at night.

You have a really nice point there.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Forests/woods as Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural places??



Choisya wrote:
Could define exactly what you mean by 'supernatural magic' please and give references. In previous discussions on these boards 'supernatural' has been linked to the divine, which I do not believe was Shakespeare's intent.

Supernatural just means beyond or above nature. As far as the OED is concerned, and I agree, it doesn't necessarily have to do anything with the divine (though one can see it that way if they wish).

The fairies in MND are supernatural, in that they do not, at least as far as I am aware, happen in nature. I have never suggested or even considered that Shakespeare intended any divine or theological aspect to the fairies, though now that you mention it, perhaps it would be an interesting aspect to look at.

I see no reason why an atheist couldn't perfectly well believe in the supernatural. But then, I'm not an atheist, so maybe there's some doctrine there I'm not aware of.
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Choisya
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Re: For Choisya: WILL IN THE WORLD

Thanks a lot philo math:smileyhappy: - not magical/supernatural/mysterious/fairylike etc but only a question of having the time and having an idea in the first place of what words to key in. I enjoy having a reason to research now that I am retired from doing it professionally. My grand-daughter and my daughters also make use of me, just as they used to do long before we had access to the internet, when I was trawling the libraries of London and their microfiches. The internet is no substitute for the Reading Room at the British Library though, where I will be meeting an American friend for lunch next Tuesday:smileyhappy:

Stephen Greenblatt is a well respected American literary critic so I expect 'Will in the World' is a very well researched novel. Thanks for the recommendation - I have just ordered a cheap 'used' copy. I remember reading something of his about 20 years ago on Shakespeare as Magus, Marxist and Feminist, which was very advanced for its time. He also wrote about the life of a Lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy:smileysurprised:




pmath wrote:
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 02-11-200712:12 PM




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Everyman
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Re: For Choisya: Stephen Greenblatt's WILL IN THE WORLD



pmath wrote:
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:



I'm curious what you think of it. I found it interesting, as you say, on the events and circumstances of this time, but I could have done with a whole lot less of the "may have" and "might have" passages.

For example, the start of Chapter 10:
"Sometime in the spring or summer of 1596 Shakespeare may have received word that his only son, Hamnet, eleven years old, was ill. It is possible he understood and responded at once..." That's hypothesis on top of hypothesis (maybe he heard, and if so maybe he did so and so).

I know that there are some people who can accept, or even enjoy, such speculative writing, but I have to admit that too much of it quickly palls on me. After awhile I had had enough, and never managed to finish Will, though some day I may go back to it.
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Atheists and the Supernatural

Thankyou. You have in the past contended that an atheist could not understand the supernatural and you have also opined that the supernatural is divine, so I was curious where you stood in relation to MND. Atheists have no 'doctrine' on such matters; there are no definitive writings, beliefs, leaders, prophets etc etc, we just think our own thing. But just as atheists think that God/gods does/do not exist, nor do they 'believe' in anything 'other worldly' or 'supernatural', be it fairies, angels or ghosts etc. That does not, however, prevent them from looking at the ideas philosophically and trying to understand and engage with other people's points of view.

It was because I thought there might be some people who would look for a religious connection in MND that I raised the question of St John's Eve elsewshere.




Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Could define exactly what you mean by 'supernatural magic' please and give references. In previous discussions on these boards 'supernatural' has been linked to the divine, which I do not believe was Shakespeare's intent.

Supernatural just means beyond or above nature. As far as the OED is concerned, and I agree, it doesn't necessarily have to do anything with the divine (though one can see it that way if they wish).

The fairies in MND are supernatural, in that they do not, at least as far as I am aware, happen in nature. I have never suggested or even considered that Shakespeare intended any divine or theological aspect to the fairies, though now that you mention it, perhaps it would be an interesting aspect to look at.

I see no reason why an atheist couldn't perfectly well believe in the supernatural. But then, I'm not an atheist, so maybe there's some doctrine there I'm not aware of.


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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Atheists and the Supernatural

You have in the past contended that an atheist could not understand the supernatural and you have also opined that the supernatural is divine, so I was curious where you stood in relation to MND.

Never, that I can recall, in the context of fiction, which is the context we're in here. When we get to issues of moral philosophy as applied to "real life," which is an entirely different thing.

But that's got nothing to do with Shakespeare and his use of fairies, magic, alchemy, and other supernatural forces, which is what our discussion is about.
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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Atheists and the Supernatural

But just as atheists think that God/gods does/do not exist, nor do they 'believe' in anything 'other worldly' or 'supernatural', be it fairies, angels or ghosts etc.

Personally I consider that sad, but of course atheists are entitled to believe as they wish to, and it's a discussion we are best not getting into here.

For the sake of discussing MND, I hope that you can suspend disbelief and pretend to believe in fairies, magic potions, and other supernatural beings and forces.
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place

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.

Nice point mef6395. Perhaps they were not aware that fairies would be playing tricks on them but I think they were aware, and made the audience aware, of what magical/mysterious things might be in store. The forest was even more magical/mysterious that night because there was a new moon - there are several references to the moon in Act I (indeed throughout the play):

Theseus invokes Hecate who represents the dark side of the moon and is associated with magic, mysticism and even death. She may also be representing what is outside the boundaries of Athens and the dangerous, unpredictable world of the forest. The goddess Diana is then invoked and she is the patroness of young lovers at the beginning of their new life. ('And then the moon, like to a silver bow', is a reference to Cupid's bow.) At the end of Act I the moon goddess Phoebe's name is invoked and she represents the New Moon which, according to astrology, is 'a sacred symbol of magic, feminine energy, fertility, abundant growth and the sacred powers of nature.', It is also traditionally used in women's healing rituals. This may be a foreshadowing of the role of women in future scenes.

So in using these words about the various espects of the moon the characters seem to be aware of the magical/mysterious properties of the moon and, I believe, aware of the magical/mysterious aspects of the forest too - with its 'stranger companies'. The Elizabethan audience were thus made aware, by the lines the characters spoke, of what strange (magical/mysterious or even supernatural) things might take place in a moonlit forest on a magical Midsummer's Night.

Then on come the down to earth 'crew of patches, rude mechanicals' [craftsmen], who are far too concerned, for the moment, with rehearsing their play for the nobility to concern themselves with magical/mysterious possibly supernatural portents...:smileyhappy:

Do you think my analysis makes sense mef6395 or shall I go back to the drawing board:smileyvery-happy:?
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Biziwier
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place

I'm new here ,but have a unique point of view. Having recently repaired the slamming doors on the tempest set I was exposed to the Royal Shakespeare Society at their only American residency , and the actors there of. When I inqured about the magic, the wording etc. I was given the concept that the dynamic interpretation by the actor/ress is based on the levity of the humor. The Audience (the court) the actor/ress (on the stage) feel an obligation to the levity of humour responding from the audience, something they liked about the american audience , who react. I was told the addition of the line about" American Indians" demonstrates the dynamic capability of the performance itself to take on inheritant meanings of "magic" in order to invoke audience (court) levity and humour.
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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place



Choisya wrote:
Perhaps they were not aware that fairies would be playing tricks on them but I think they were aware, and made the audience aware, of what magical/mysterious things might be in store. hr>


I just want to be sure that I understand you.

It is your position, then, that when the mechanicals decide to go away from Athens to the forest to rehearse, that at that point in the play both they and the Elizabethan audience were aware that they were going to a magical place where magical/mysterious things might be in store for them?

Am I correctly understanding your view of Act 1 of the play?

If so, we can simply agree that we disagree on that, since I see nothing in the text that would support such a reading, and move on to other topics.
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More on WILL IN THE WORLD and THE TRUTH WILL OUT

[ Edited ]
Yes, and it makes you wonder who WS really was!


Everyman wrote:
I'm curious what you think of it. I found it interesting, as you say, on the events and circumstances of this time, but I could have done with a whole lot less of the "may have" and "might have" passages.

pmath wrote:
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...

Message Edited by pmath on 03-04-200711:08 PM

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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Atheists and the Supernatural

I always suspend disbelief when I go to the theatre:smileyhappy:




Everyman wrote:
But just as atheists think that God/gods does/do not exist, nor do they 'believe' in anything 'other worldly' or 'supernatural', be it fairies, angels or ghosts etc.

Personally I consider that sad, but of course atheists are entitled to believe as they wish to, and it's a discussion we are best not getting into here.

For the sake of discussing MND, I hope that you can suspend disbelief and pretend to believe in fairies, magic potions, and other supernatural beings and forces.


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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place

I am not referring to 'the mechanicals' here, I am referring to the characters in Act I, as was ME6395. I would put an entirely different construct on 'the rude mechanicals'/artisans. Let's just agree to disagree since I am clearly not making any sense to you whatsoever - it must be my English English.



Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Perhaps they were not aware that fairies would be playing tricks on them but I think they were aware, and made the audience aware, of what magical/mysterious things might be in store. hr>


I just want to be sure that I understand you.

It is your position, then, that when the mechanicals decide to go away from Athens to the forest to rehearse, that at that point in the play both they and the Elizabethan audience were aware that they were going to a magical place where magical/mysterious things might be in store for them?

Am I correctly understanding your view of Act 1 of the play?

If so, we can simply agree that we disagree on that, since I see nothing in the text that would support such a reading, and move on to other topics.


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Everyman
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place



Choisya wrote:
I am not referring to 'the mechanicals' here, I am referring to the characters in Act I,


Well, in my copy of the play the mechanicals are in Act 1, but okay.
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Mef6395 : A Magical Mysterious Moonlit Place

Sorry, Act I Scene I.



Everyman wrote:


Choisya wrote:
I am not referring to 'the mechanicals' here, I am referring to the characters in Act I,


Well, in my copy of the play the mechanicals are in Act 1, but okay.


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

I think the Mechanicals would have steered clear of the forest if they'd known about the magic that would happen there that night. (For starters, who wants to be turned into an ass?) These rustics seem much more afraid of magic than the higher class main characters.

This feels like a common thread in Shakespeare's plays... but I could be imagining things. The only example I can think of off hand is the Tempest: Prospero commands the spirits and Caliban lives in fear and hatred of them (both the spirits that torment him and Prospero).
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Arden as a Magical/Mysterious/Supernatural place??

They would haven't have known that Bottom was going to be turned into an ass though:smileyhappy: Yes, the less educated common people would, in general, have been much more afraid of magic than the educated nobility. The mechanicals may have lived in the forest because country craftsmen often lived on the peripheries of forests/woods, where there was game to be hunted and wood for their fires etc.

I think we also have to ask the question WHY was everyone going to the forest considering that they were in Athens, a city. Why didn't Shakespeare make the setting on a village road just outside Athens? Doesn't it mean that the forest must have had some particular significance, especially for the audience?

The last time I saw MND enacted on stage (I usually attend outdoor productions), Act I:ii was set inside a public house (!) and the rehearsal of Act III:i was by a large 'tree' on the edge of the forest setting, which fits Quince's words 'At the Duke's Oak we meet'.




LibbyLane wrote:
I think the Mechanicals would have steered clear of the forest if they'd known about the magic that would happen there that night. (For starters, who wants to be turned into an ass?) These rustics seem much more afraid of magic than the higher class main characters.

This feels like a common thread in Shakespeare's plays... but I could be imagining things. The only example I can think of off hand is the Tempest: Prospero commands the spirits and Caliban lives in fear and hatred of them (both the spirits that torment him and Prospero).


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