|Teacher: Mr. Masselli|
Topic: A Midsummer Night's Dream Sept. 27, 2010
A Midsummer Night’s Dream September 27, 2010
I want students to keep plot, setting, and characterization in mind as we discuss the play in class. The atmosphere of Athens (the normal world) is formal, oppressive, and ironically irrational, like the wood (the green world). Irrational behavior in Athens is dramatized by Egeus’s insistence that his daughter, Hermia, marry Demetrius, as it is by Demetrius’s determination to marry Hermia, even though she doesn’t love him. The law of Athens gives Egeus the right to put his daughter to death for disobedience; its power is such that even Theseus cannot overrule it. The obstacles to marriage are thus in place in this comedy where "the course of true love never does run smooth." The lucky decision to elope in the four day interval Hermia has to make her choice gives the lovers the opportunity to benefit from the magic of the wood, but not before fate, mischief, and chaos make the situation worse before it gets better. The four lovers might as well be the same character except for gender: their behavior in the wood is universally silly as they find it impossible to deal with both love and magic.
The irrational behavior in the wood is unrelated to unreasonable, harsh laws; instead, it is associated with love. The addition of magic, an impish sprite named Puck, and comic fate create chaos, but also move the lovers toward happiness in marriage. Not for a moment does the audience think that the lovers will harm each other. Why? The language used to express conflict in the wood is free of the word "death" and avoids the darkness and desperation of tone that characterizes the dialogue in Act 1.
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