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

Choisya, the Shakespearean expert who wrote the "Introduction" to my version of MND seems to be completely in agreement with you. The second paragraph from his
Introduction" follows: Some facts about its origin and title may help us better to understand the particular nature of the play. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is clearly related to the practices of midsummer night, the night before June 24, which was the date of Saint John the Baptist’s festival and hence connected with merrymaking, various superstitions and folk customs, dances, pageants, and revels. MORE THAN ANY OTHER NIGHT OF THE YEAR, MIDSUMMER NIGHT SUGGESTED ENCHANTMENT AND WITHCRAFT, something which Shakespeare has superbly embodied in his fairy world. TO AN ELIZABETHAN AUDIENCE, MOREOVER, THE PLAY’S TITLE WOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO MIND THE SO-CALLED MIDSUMMER MADNESS, WHICH WAS A STATE OF MIND MARKED BY A HEIGHTENED READINESS TO BELIEVE IN THE DELUSIONS OF THE IMAGINATION THAT WERE THOUGHT TO BEFALL THE MINDS OF MEN AFTER DAYS OF GREAT SUMMER HEAT. Thus, by means of his highly suggestive title, Shakespeare has firmly planted the dreamlike action of his drama in the popular beliefs and customs of his time. Furthermore the title gives theatergoers and readers a clue as to how the work should be understood—-namely, as an unrealistic creation of the imagination, a series of dream images containing all the contradictions and inconsistencies that dreams normally possess, but containing too their symbolic content. Indeed, the dreamlike character of what takes place is repeatedly alluded to. In Puck’s Epilogue, for instance, the audience themselves are explicitly addressed: And this weak and idle theme,/No more yielding but a dream,/Gentles, do not reprehend. (V.i.426-28). In short, the play’s title makes significant allusion to the nature and meaning of the work, though it makes no reference to the period of time during which the events of the drama occur. In fact, the action takes place between April 29 and May 1, the latter date, being that of May Day, demanding of course particular celebrations, and for that reason it is perhaps a suitable day for the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. (Capitalized emphasis mine.)

The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, HBJ, 1972.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Edited by Wolfgang Clemen, “Introduction,” p. 524.
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stratford
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

Everyman, as far as what others think, according to the Shakespearean expert who wrote the "Introduction" to my version of MND, yes, the audience would have been likely to say "ah, they're meeting in a wood, there will be magic and fairies there." The second paragraph from Wolfgang Clemen's "Introduction" follows: Some facts about its origin and title may help us better to understand the particular nature of the play. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is clearly related to the practices of midsummer night, the night before June 24, which was the date of Saint John the Baptist’s festival and hence connected with merrymaking, various superstitions and folk customs, dances, pageants, and revels. MORE THAN ANY OTHER NIGHT OF THE YEAR, MIDSUMMER NIGHT SUGGESTED ENCHANTMENT AND WITHCRAFT, something which Shakespeare has superbly embodied in his fairy world. TO AN ELIZABETHAN AUDIENCE, MOREOVER, THE PLAY’S TITLE WOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO MIND THE SO-CALLED MIDSUMMER MADNESS, WHICH WAS A STATE OF MIND MARKED BY A HEIGHTENED READINESS TO BELIEVE IN THE DELUSIONS OF THE IMAGINATION THAT WERE THOUGHT TO BEFALL THE MINDS OF MEN AFTER DAYS OF GREAT SUMMER HEAT. Thus, by means of his highly suggestive title, Shakespeare has firmly planted the dreamlike action of his drama in the popular beliefs and customs of his time. Furthermore the title gives theatergoers and readers a clue as to how the work should be understood—-namely, as an unrealistic creation of the imagination, a series of dream images containing all the contradictions and inconsistencies that dreams normally possess, but containing too their symbolic content. Indeed, the dreamlike character of what takes place is repeatedly alluded to. In Puck’s Epilogue, for instance, the audience themselves are explicitly addressed: And this weak and idle theme,/No more yielding but a dream,/Gentles, do not reprehend. (V.i.426-28). In short, the play’s title makes significant allusion to the nature and meaning of the work, though it makes no reference to the period of time during which the events of the drama occur. In fact, the action takes place between April 29 and May 1, the latter date, being that of May Day, demanding of course particular celebrations, and for that reason it is perhaps a suitable day for the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. (Capitalized emphasis mine.)

The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, HBJ, 1972.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Edited by Wolfgang Clemen, “Introduction,” p. 524.







Everyman wrote:
I am not disputing that in Elizabethan days fairies were seen as living in forests, as well as many other places.

The question at issue is whether, when Lysander says to Hermia

If thou lov’st me then,
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night,
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

the audience would have been likely to say "ah, they're meeting in a wood, there will be magic and fairies there," or whether they would have been more likely to say "ah, they're going to steal away from the town to go to the aunt's house."

Not that you or I could prove either one, but personally I think it's a stretch to think that at that point in the play they would have been thinking that they would be seeing magic, fairies, or the like simply because the meeting place was in a place in the wood which they would both recognize.

But if you want to think they would, that's fine by me.

What do others think?


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

[ Edited ]
stratford wrote "according to the Shakespearean expert who wrote the "Introduction" to my version of MND, yes, the audience would have been likely to say "ah, they're meeting in a wood, there will be magic and fairies there."

I respect that view.

However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?

Would Lysander have sent the woman he loved out alone into the night to meet him at a place where he and she would have expected fairies and magic to be? It seems a strange act of love to me, and I see nothing at all in the text that suggests that either he or she had any such expectation. If they had though of the wood that night as being particularly open to magic and fairies (which at that time were more often viewed negatively than positively, as they tend to be by some now), would he have let her go to sleep in the woods and taken himself off to somewhere far enough away to be out of earshot?

Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

Choisya has acknowledged that probably the mechanicals had no concept that the place they were deciding to practice would be enchanted. If they had, why would they have chosen to go there rather than practice somewhere safer?

My original point, which again has gotten lost by peripheral issues, was that while we see the difference between the city as the place of law and order and the woods as the place of magic and mystery, I don't think that at the start of the play the characters recognized that. Lysander and Hermia were clearly excaping from the laws of Athens, but their intent was to escape to another place of law, just different law, where they could be legally married and live happily ever after.

Take away the audience/reader perspective for a moment and look purely at the perspectives of the characters, the way they act, and what we are told in the text about their actions (they, of course, had no idea what the title of the play was). Can you say that as they left Athens for their separate purposes they expected to be involved in this web of magic and mayhem? I think not.

Message Edited by Everyman on 02-12-200707:43 PM

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Re: Act I: The Court


mef6395 wrote:
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!




That's a very astute observation mef! And it seems as though the forest is as strewn with obstacles in the path of true love as is the court!
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Re: Act I: The Court : mechanical magic?


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).




Hi Libby,

The nobles don't meet with magic because they don't leave the court. It's not clear what rank the young men and women are, but when they are in the forest they don't fear magic because they don't recognize it. Maybe it's because they spend too much time at court! The Mechanicals fear magic, but they also seem to respect it, and rightfully so, understanding its power as they do. And remember, the only one of the whole lot who is allowed to see the fairies is Bottom! Bottom's "translation" is seen by his fellows, and they have the good sense to be afraid of such a metamorphosis. The young women are perplexed at the sudden alteration of their men friends' affections, but they never guess that magic is the cause. Nor does Theseus, when he realizes things have changed overnight.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

[ Edited ]
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM

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

Thankyou Stratford. I know that the 'festive theory' is quite a common one over here - is the Signet Classic you have a British edition? Perhaps these ideas are more commonly held by British academics since these beliefs, pageants etc are rooted in our culture? BTW are you called Stratford because you support the 'Stratford Man'? If it is your real name, it is a nice one:smileyhappy:




stratford wrote:
Choisya, the Shakespearean expert who wrote the "Introduction" to my version of MND seems to be completely in agreement with you. The second paragraph from his
Introduction" follows: Some facts about its origin and title may help us better to understand the particular nature of the play. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is clearly related to the practices of midsummer night, the night before June 24, which was the date of Saint John the Baptist’s festival and hence connected with merrymaking, various superstitions and folk customs, dances, pageants, and revels. MORE THAN ANY OTHER NIGHT OF THE YEAR, MIDSUMMER NIGHT SUGGESTED ENCHANTMENT AND WITHCRAFT, something which Shakespeare has superbly embodied in his fairy world. TO AN ELIZABETHAN AUDIENCE, MOREOVER, THE PLAY’S TITLE WOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO MIND THE SO-CALLED MIDSUMMER MADNESS, WHICH WAS A STATE OF MIND MARKED BY A HEIGHTENED READINESS TO BELIEVE IN THE DELUSIONS OF THE IMAGINATION THAT WERE THOUGHT TO BEFALL THE MINDS OF MEN AFTER DAYS OF GREAT SUMMER HEAT. Thus, by means of his highly suggestive title, Shakespeare has firmly planted the dreamlike action of his drama in the popular beliefs and customs of his time. Furthermore the title gives theatergoers and readers a clue as to how the work should be understood—-namely, as an unrealistic creation of the imagination, a series of dream images containing all the contradictions and inconsistencies that dreams normally possess, but containing too their symbolic content. Indeed, the dreamlike character of what takes place is repeatedly alluded to. In Puck’s Epilogue, for instance, the audience themselves are explicitly addressed: And this weak and idle theme,/No more yielding but a dream,/Gentles, do not reprehend. (V.i.426-28). In short, the play’s title makes significant allusion to the nature and meaning of the work, though it makes no reference to the period of time during which the events of the drama occur. In fact, the action takes place between April 29 and May 1, the latter date, being that of May Day, demanding of course particular celebrations, and for that reason it is perhaps a suitable day for the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. (Capitalized emphasis mine.)

The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, HBJ, 1972.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Edited by Wolfgang Clemen, “Introduction,” p. 524.


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Re: Hippolyta's cold feet?



cheryl_shell wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote: I also wanted to add to your fine list, Lizzie by suggesting the conflict between Theseus and Hippolyta. In 1.1 we learn that Theseus won Hippolyta by force. T."Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword, And won thy love, doing thee injuries"




Indeed, Carmenere! In fact, one wonders if the conflict will continue, considering Hippolyta's answer to Theseus' lament about "how slow / This old moon wanes!" (1.1.3-4): "Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; / Four nights will quickly dream away the time" (7-8). Could she be wanting time to slow down?




I have always wondered about this as well. Hippolyta at first glance, seems like a very minor character, but perhaps this little exchange provides some very important information about not only her character, but also the other female characters (especially Hermia). Many people have speculated on the point that Shakespeare didn't write women very well, but simplicity can sometimes speak volumes. As the saying goes, "saying a little can say a lot."
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Re: Act I: The Court : Everyman : The Play's the thing...

Your original point might have been about the views of the characters but subsequently your argument on several occasions was that you disagreed with me that the audience would know that what as to come would be magical/supernatural etc. For instance, you wrote on 9/2/07: 'I don't see that the audience should have known at that time during the first Act that what was going to happen there [in the forest] was going to be magical or supernatural'. And you subsequently queried that London audiences would know anything about the portent of forests etc. Stratford's extract and my own views and quotes do not support that POV. You have not given any evidence to support your own POV, although of course you are quite entitled to hold it as a personal opinion.

As for what the characters thought or did not think - they are but 'poor players which strut and fret their hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more'- they speak the words of the playwright. Whether or not Lysander 'thinks' that he is sending Hermia to a magical forest, Shakespeare does and the audience does and it is the paying audience's perception that matters here. Even if Lysander did 'know', the action of the play would still be the same because it is a play about magic in the forest, by moonlight, on Midsummer Eve. You could equally argue that Lysander was foolish to send his lover to a forest on Midsummer Eve and maybe the audience would have agreed - maybe in Shakespeare's day they shouted 'No! No! don't meet in the forest on Midsummer's Eve!' And you could ask why on earth did Shakespeare not arrange for them to meet in a village outside Athens. Perhaps the palace was surrounded by forests and they had to go through it anyway....etc etc. Shakespeare named a moonlit forest because his audience would know the portent.

I have not 'agreed' that the Mechanicals did not know of the portent of the forest on Midsummer Eve - that would be ridiculous in Elizabethan times. I have suggested that they are likely to have lived nearby and would also suggest that as they probably lived in small hovels, they would have no other place to rehearse but on the nearest 'green plot'. Maybe the audience shouted out to them too!

Take away the audience/reader perspective for a moment and look purely at the perspectives of the characters, the way they act, and what we are told in the text about their actions (they, of course, had no idea what the title of the play was).

I do not wish to take away this perspective because for me it is the one that makes most sense. MND is a play and the characters are doing the bidding of the playwright for the benefit of an audience. We are not reading a story here, we are reading a play. You may wish to interpret it as only a story and that is OK, but I do not. For me 'The Play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king' - the king for me, in this instance, being Shakespeare. I wish to understand the entirety of the play, not just the story. Perhaps our differences are there because I have mainly seen Shakespeare's plays upon the stage whereas you have more often read them.




Everyman wrote:
stratford wrote "according to the Shakespearean expert who wrote the "Introduction" to my version of MND, yes, the audience would have been likely to say "ah, they're meeting in a wood, there will be magic and fairies there."

I respect that view.

However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?

Would Lysander have sent the woman he loved out alone into the night to meet him at a place where he and she would have expected fairies and magic to be? It seems a strange act of love to me, and I see nothing at all in the text that suggests that either he or she had any such expectation. If they had though of the wood that night as being particularly open to magic and fairies (which at that time were more often viewed negatively than positively, as they tend to be by some now), would he have let her go to sleep in the woods and taken himself off to somewhere far enough away to be out of earshot?

Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

Choisya has acknowledged that probably the mechanicals had no concept that the place they were deciding to practice would be enchanted. If they had, why would they have chosen to go there rather than practice somewhere safer?

My original point, which again has gotten lost by peripheral issues, was that while we see the difference between the city as the place of law and order and the woods as the place of magic and mystery, I don't think that at the start of the play the characters recognized that. Lysander and Hermia were clearly excaping from the laws of Athens, but their intent was to escape to another place of law, just different law, where they could be legally married and live happily ever after.

Take away the audience/reader perspective for a moment and look purely at the perspectives of the characters, the way they act, and what we are told in the text about their actions (they, of course, had no idea what the title of the play was). Can you say that as they left Athens for their separate purposes they expected to be involved in this web of magic and mayhem? I think not.

Message Edited by Everyman on 02-12-200707:43 PM




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

This begs the question of why they were going into the forest and not meeting on, say, a village road, on a moonlit night on Midsummer Eve and what was Shakespeare's intention. Lysander and Hermia had a problem with their relationship in that it was not approved of by Egeus, so was it the intention of Shakespeare to use the forest as a magical place wherein to solve their problem (and that of Demetrius and Helena)?






Carmenere_lady wrote:
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM




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

[ Edited ]
I have to agree with Choisya and Everyman. In Elizabethan Times and today, people see the forest (nature: beaches, mountains, etc.) as a magical place, whether influenced by actual magic or created in the mind. When people buy "get-away" retreats, where do they look? Away from the hustle-bustle of the city (the daily grind, "laws of man" land) in the mountains or the beach or another relaxing "magical" place that is freeing. I do believe that upon writing the play, Shakespeare specifically chose the forest because he knew his audience would identify with its magical implications. I also, however, believe that the lovers did not choose it because of its magic. As Everyman was pointing out, they simply saw it as their "get-away" from the laws of man. We, and the Elizabethan audiences, can see this as DRAMATIC IRONY: when the audience knows something that the characters do not. We know that upon going into the forest, the characters will probably be experiencing some magical, fantastic things, but they are oblivious to the possibilities.

Message Edited by alfprof212 on 02-13-200708:04 AM

Message Edited by alfprof212 on 02-13-200708:06 AM

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

I have to agree with Choisya and Everyman. In Elizabethan Times and today, people see the forest (nature: beaches, mountains, etc.) as a magical place, whether influenced by actual magic or created in the mind. When people buy "get-away" retreats, where do they look? Away from the hustle-bustle of the city (the daily grind, "laws of man" land) in the mountains or the beach or another relaxing "magical" place that is freeing. I do believe that upon writing the play, Shakespeare specifically chose the forest because he knew his audience would identify with its magical implications. I also, however, believe that the lovers did not choose it because of its magic. As Everyman was pointing out, they simply saw it as their "get-away" from the laws of man. We, and the Elizabethan audiences, can see this as DRAMATIC IRONY: when the audience knows something that the characters do not. We know that upon going into the forest, the characters will probably be experiencing some magical, fantastic things, but they are oblivious to the possibilities.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

Thanks Alfpro: I agree that it can be seen as Dramatic Irony and did not suggest that the lovers chose it for its magic, just that Shakespeare did.




alfprof212 wrote:
I have to agree with Choisya and Everyman. In Elizabethan Times and today, people see the forest (nature: beaches, mountains, etc.) as a magical place, whether influenced by actual magic or created in the mind. When people buy "get-away" retreats, where do they look? Away from the hustle-bustle of the city (the daily grind, "laws of man" land) in the mountains or the beach or another relaxing "magical" place that is freeing. I do believe that upon writing the play, Shakespeare specifically chose the forest because he knew his audience would identify with its magical implications. I also, however, believe that the lovers did not choose it because of its magic. As Everyman was pointing out, they simply saw it as their "get-away" from the laws of man. We, and the Elizabethan audiences, can see this as DRAMATIC IRONY: when the audience knows something that the characters do not. We know that upon going into the forest, the characters will probably be experiencing some magical, fantastic things, but they are oblivious to the possibilities.


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Re: Act I: The Court : Everyman : The Play's the thing...



Choisya wrote:
Your original point might have been about the views of the characters but subsequently your argument on several occasions was that you disagreed with me that the audience would know that what as to come would be magical/supernatural etc.


Yes, I did, and still do, disagree that as soon as the audience hears that Lysander wanted Hermia to meet him in the wood, the audience would instinctively and automatically have thought "wow, magic forthcoming." You cited nothing in the text to support your view, and as I cited, there are many other places in Shakespeare where people refer to forests and there is no magic involved, and the only other real magic play of Shakespeare's, The Tempest, has is not forest based.

But I also recognize that you are convinced that the audience reaction would be that, and far be it from me to try to dissuade you from your belief. As I said in an earlier post, I am happy to leave you with your view, as I am happy remaining with mine.

That's why after acknowledging that we would disagree on that point, I returned to my original point, which you diverted the discussion from with your view on audience reaction.
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

They were going into the forest because that's where Shakespeare needed them for the play to work.

It is often useful, and indeed sometimes necessary, to separate out what characters do because the actions are inherent in developing or displaying their characters, and what the characters do because the playwright needs them to do those things for the sake of the plot.

Lysander and Hermia needed to escape Athens to get to his aunt's house where they could be legally married. That was their purpose, intent, and need. It didn't matter to them where they met as long as it was a place they could both identify (perhaps they hadn't ventured outside Athens very often together and therefore didn't have common knowledge of many places outside the city), and for their purposes a temple, a monument, a viewpoint, or any place outside the city that they could have both identified and found would have served their purpose.

Shakespeare needed them in the forest for the sake of the action he had in mind. That's why he chose to have them meet in the forest rather than somewhere else, which he perfectly well could have done had it suited his needs.



Choisya wrote:
This begs the question of why they were going into the forest and not meeting on, say, a village road, on a moonlit night on Midsummer Eve and what was Shakespeare's intention. Lysander and Hermia had a problem with their relationship in that it was not approved of by Egeus, so was it the intention of Shakespeare to use the forest as a magical place wherein to solve their problem (and that of Demetrius and Helena)?






Carmenere_lady wrote:
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM






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

Precisely! For the 'magic' of the play to work.



Everyman wrote:
They were going into the forest because that's where Shakespeare needed them for the play to work.

It is often useful, and indeed sometimes necessary, to separate out what characters do because the actions are inherent in developing or displaying their characters, and what the characters do because the playwright needs them to do those things for the sake of the plot.

Lysander and Hermia needed to escape Athens to get to his aunt's house where they could be legally married. That was their purpose, intent, and need. It didn't matter to them where they met as long as it was a place they could both identify (perhaps they hadn't ventured outside Athens very often together and therefore didn't have common knowledge of many places outside the city), and for their purposes a temple, a monument, a viewpoint, or any place outside the city that they could have both identified and found would have served their purpose.

Shakespeare needed them in the forest for the sake of the action he had in mind. That's why he chose to have them meet in the forest rather than somewhere else, which he perfectly well could have done had it suited his needs.



Choisya wrote:
This begs the question of why they were going into the forest and not meeting on, say, a village road, on a moonlit night on Midsummer Eve and what was Shakespeare's intention. Lysander and Hermia had a problem with their relationship in that it was not approved of by Egeus, so was it the intention of Shakespeare to use the forest as a magical place wherein to solve their problem (and that of Demetrius and Helena)?






Carmenere_lady wrote:
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM









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

That's right. And if Shakespeare had decided to use a cave, or a fountain, or a meadow, or a haunted castle, or Stonehenge as the location of his magic events, that's where the parties would have gone. In this case, though, he chose a forest.

We also have to keep in mind that the fairies here are not limited to teh wood, but appear also in the castle at the end of the play. So, as I point out elsewhere, there's not a clear delineation between the magic forest and the nonmagic city.


Choisya wrote:
Precisely! For the 'magic' of the play to work.



Everyman wrote:
They were going into the forest because that's where Shakespeare needed them for the play to work.

It is often useful, and indeed sometimes necessary, to separate out what characters do because the actions are inherent in developing or displaying their characters, and what the characters do because the playwright needs them to do those things for the sake of the plot.

Lysander and Hermia needed to escape Athens to get to his aunt's house where they could be legally married. That was their purpose, intent, and need. It didn't matter to them where they met as long as it was a place they could both identify (perhaps they hadn't ventured outside Athens very often together and therefore didn't have common knowledge of many places outside the city), and for their purposes a temple, a monument, a viewpoint, or any place outside the city that they could have both identified and found would have served their purpose.

Shakespeare needed them in the forest for the sake of the action he had in mind. That's why he chose to have them meet in the forest rather than somewhere else, which he perfectly well could have done had it suited his needs.



Choisya wrote:
This begs the question of why they were going into the forest and not meeting on, say, a village road, on a moonlit night on Midsummer Eve and what was Shakespeare's intention. Lysander and Hermia had a problem with their relationship in that it was not approved of by Egeus, so was it the intention of Shakespeare to use the forest as a magical place wherein to solve their problem (and that of Demetrius and Helena)?






Carmenere_lady wrote:
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM












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Re: Act I: The Court



cheryl_shell wrote:
The two locales are very different, not only in terms of what takes place, but in what each represents. The court is the place of law, stability and reason; the woods, on the other hand, is the place of magic, metamorphosis and madness.

And yet, on finishing reading the play, I am reminded that for the return to court, the fairies are not left behind, but at the end of the play, after the lovers are all in bed and presumably asleep, the fairies also come into the court, not just Oberon and Titania but "all their train." Every elf and fairy sprite is put under orders to "through this house each fairy stray...every fairy take his gait, / and each several chamber bless, /through this palace, with sweet peace.."

Doesn't this bring into question the clear delineation between forest and court that we have been suggesting? Why does Shakespeare add this element, which really could have been left out without affecting the action of the play at all? Is he saying that the court is only a place of law, and that if you want true love you have to introduce the fairy element? But the parties have already been properly reconciled and joined, so why is that necessary?

And isn't it interesting that the last word in the play is given to Puck, presumably speaking from within the place since there is no stage direction to indicate that the location of the play moves from the castle, which is the scene of the final act?

The court/forest division no longer seems as clear to me as it once did.

The passage in question is:

Enter OBERON and TITANIA with all their train

OBERON

Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

TITANIA

First, rehearse your song by rote
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

Song and dance

OBERON

Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.
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Choisya
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Re: Act I: The Court : Escape into the surreal

We can completely rewrite the play if we so wish but I prefer to stick with the interpretations given by worthy critics and academics over the centuries about Midsummer Night, and about moonlit forests and about Shakespeare's intentions.



Everyman wrote:
That's right. And if Shakespeare had decided to use a cave, or a fountain, or a meadow, or a haunted castle, or Stonehenge as the location of his magic events, that's where the parties would have gone. In this case, though, he chose a forest.

We also have to keep in mind that the fairies here are not limited to teh wood, but appear also in the castle at the end of the play. So, as I point out elsewhere, there's not a clear delineation between the magic forest and the nonmagic city.


Choisya wrote:
Precisely! For the 'magic' of the play to work.



Everyman wrote:
They were going into the forest because that's where Shakespeare needed them for the play to work.

It is often useful, and indeed sometimes necessary, to separate out what characters do because the actions are inherent in developing or displaying their characters, and what the characters do because the playwright needs them to do those things for the sake of the plot.

Lysander and Hermia needed to escape Athens to get to his aunt's house where they could be legally married. That was their purpose, intent, and need. It didn't matter to them where they met as long as it was a place they could both identify (perhaps they hadn't ventured outside Athens very often together and therefore didn't have common knowledge of many places outside the city), and for their purposes a temple, a monument, a viewpoint, or any place outside the city that they could have both identified and found would have served their purpose.

Shakespeare needed them in the forest for the sake of the action he had in mind. That's why he chose to have them meet in the forest rather than somewhere else, which he perfectly well could have done had it suited his needs.



Choisya wrote:
This begs the question of why they were going into the forest and not meeting on, say, a village road, on a moonlit night on Midsummer Eve and what was Shakespeare's intention. Lysander and Hermia had a problem with their relationship in that it was not approved of by Egeus, so was it the intention of Shakespeare to use the forest as a magical place wherein to solve their problem (and that of Demetrius and Helena)?






Carmenere_lady wrote:
Everyman wrote: However, it doesn't address the original point I asked about, which seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Did the characters, when they went out into the wood, expect that there would be magic and fairies there?



Personally, I doubt it, and I see nothing in the text to suggest that either one of them had any such concerns.

>



Everyman, on this point I agree with you. Lysander may have motives to get Hermia into the woods but he does not imply that fairies will do magical things in the woods. At this point in the play, Lysander and Hermia are very much in love, they do not need any magic to spark their relationship. All they need is the darkness of the night to make their escape into Athens.

In reviewing the play I did not come across anything that would imply that they had any fear or expectations going into the wood.

Carmen

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:10 PM

Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 02-12-200711:12 PM















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

I prefer to stick with the interpretations given by worthy critics and academics over the centuries

That's perhaps part of our difference. I do read the critics, or at least some of them, but in the end, I make up my own mind. Not to mention that you can read almost anything you want to from a critic, so it's a matter of which critics do you decide to agree with/

I prefer to consider what the critics might have to say, but in the end to trust my own judgment.

As Margaret Fell wrote on hearing George Fox speak some four centuries ago:

And so he (George Fox) went on and said, How that Christ was the Light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this Light they might be gathered to God, etc. And I stood up in my pew and I wondered at his doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the Scriptures, and said, 'The Scriptures were the prophets' words and Christ's and the apostles' words, and what they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and [they] had it from the Lord'. And said, 'what had any to do with the scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth. You will say, Christ says this, and the apostles say this; but what can you say? Are you a child of Light and have you walked in the Light, and what you speak is it inwardly from God?' This opened me so that it cut me to the heart; and I saw clearly that we were all wrong. So I sat me down in my pew again and I cried bitterly. And I cried in my spirit to the Lord, 'We are all thieves, we are all thieves, we have taken the Scriptures in words and know nothing of them in ourselves'.

You will say Frye says this, and Bloom says that, but what can you say?
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