Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Midsummer Night's Dream Themes & Symbols UGC Net English


A Midsummer Night's Dream On stage representations of the opening scene and their influence on our attitude to the rest of the play. A Midsummer Night's Dream starts and virtually ends with the aristocrats. To be exact, it starts with Theseus. How we interpret his relationship with Hippolyta in this scene decides how we will view the relationships of the other lovers. For example, most readers feel that Theseus represents authority, especially patriarchal authority.
The opening scene which has two episodes: Theseus' announcement of his coming marriage to Hippolyta, and Egeus' demand that his daughter marry Demetrius. Theseus' announcement of his marriage: Theseus has just defeated Hippolyta in battle. She was queen of the Amazons, an all-female community. Theseus' conquest of the Amazon queen has been seen by many as an assertion of male authority. He is now to marry her "with pomp, with triumph". He is cheerfully excited, she remains silent. He calls her "my Hippolyta." She does not call him "my Theseus" until Act V when the play is nearly over and harmony has been firmly established.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, english literature, ugc net exam, english
A Midsummer Night's Dream: I from Philip McGuire’s account of five different stage versions of this episode, we summarise two opposing stage versions of the opening scene ("Hippolyta's Silence and the Poet's Pen" in New Casebooks 139-160). If Hippolyta remains next to Theseus and smiles through his speeches, then she appears to share his enthusiasm for their impending manage. Since the play is about love ending in harmonious manage, the relationship of Theseus and Hippolyta in the opening episode becomes the ideal to be learned by the other couples. The audience would have appreciated this. The strongest message in Elizabethan Romantic 'Comedy was that social hierarchies should be maintained. It was considered natural and proper that a woman should be subordinate to her husband, just as it was natural and proper for a state to be ruled by a male. So, Theseus' subduing Hippolyta first in battle and then in marriage would have seemed proper to Shakespeare's audience. The opposite interpretation depends on Hippolyta staying grimly apart from Theseus on the stage. If she does, then she obviously does not share his enthusiasm for their marriage.
Theseus wants to show off his hounds. Hippolyta says that she has seen Hercules' hounds, implying that Theseus' hunt cannot match Hercules'. Since the ruler and his bride-to-be have a disharmonious relationship, it follows that their subjects, the young lovers, will imitate them. Only supernatural power like the magic of Oberon is able to bring harmony to Athens, as it does to his own manage.

In the second interpretation, Oberon is the arbiter of marital happiness. This has exasperated feminists who say that it is unimportant whether Theseus or Oberon is ultimately in charge because both enforce order. After all, even though Oberon is not mortal, he is a male and an aristocrat. The more relevant point is that Oberon wants the Athenian couples to be happy and instructs Puck to ensure this by pouring magic juice into Demetrius' eyes. Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, pours the juice into his eyes, and he, seeing Helena instead of Hermia when he awakens, falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Puck has also poured the juice into Demetrius' eyes who also sees Helena when he awakens, and, if we may use the expression, all hell breaks loose. Eventually the magic is reversed in all but Demetrius who remains in love with Helena which was Oberon's intention all along. In short, disharmony stems from Theseus, spills over into the forest and, in spite of Oberon's excellent intentions, and continues for quite some time.


A Midsummer Night's Dream follows this sequence but in the next part of this unit we will analyse a pattern of the play, not its sequential action. Unlike a sequence, a pattern is static; it extends over the entire play. For instance, in this play, dramatic elements seem to come in sets of two. There are two sets of lovers, two rulers, and two men who fall in love with the wrong woman. Patterns impose order on chaos, they order disorder. The rigid patterns of A Midsummer Night's Dream control the wildly changing relationships between the characters. The result is like a dance. In a dance, too, the movements are energetic and constant but they are controlled by the discipline of the dance.

Doctor  Faustus Important Background Topics 
In order to link together the different kinds of critical readings of A Midsummer - Night's Dream we have shown you, we have selected the binary of Athens and the forest which is so strong a pattern that it can be represented in two columns, as we have shown. This binary fits in with generic criticism: some characters appear in the court but not in the forest (pastoral area), others in the forest and not in the court, while some bridge the court and pasture. You will see how details of gender and power relations also emerge, and you can imagine that any stage production could use a structural analysis to emphasise relationships between settings and characters. After reading this section, you should be able to list dramatic elements of A Midsummer Night's Dream according to some other binary classification. For example, you could divide the play according to poetry and prose, or quarrels and dances. Each such exercise will tell you more about the play as well as about Shakespeare's skill in organising his dramatic material.


The fairies are the unusual characters in the play, forming one of the two subplots. In this section we will look at
  • Their role in the play
  • Puck's characterisation and function
The role of the Fairies:

You might think that a grown and serious writer like Shakespeare must have been slightly mad to write a play with fairies in it for an adult audience. But then in his time nearly everyone believed in the existence of supernatural creatures like fairies, witches, goblins. The three witches of Macbeth have been interpreted as symbols.
Shakespeare's audience must have accepted them as real creatures who predict the future and intensify Macbeth's latent ambition. Like the witches in Macbeth, the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream are linked with .the world of men. For example, when Oberon accuses Titania of having an affair with the mortal Theseus, we realize that mortals and fairies do not remain strictly separate from each other. In some respects, the fairies are very much like the Athenians. They have a similar social hierarchy. A King and Queen rule them, while some fairies simply fetch and carry for the others and could be seen as the counterparts of the Athenian Mechanicals. In general, however, the fairies fit in with the celebratory air of this play and of the midsummer festival which was supposed to bring visions to young people.

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