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A Midsummer Night's Dream As An Elizabethan Comedy

1198 words - 5 pages

A Midsummer Night's Dream as an Elizabethan Comedy

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" could have turned out as a tragedy; it can
be compared to Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". Lysander and Hermia
love each other but Egeus, Hermia's father, wants her to marry
Demetrius. This means they have to disobey Egeus and escape Athenian
law to be able to marry. These are comparable characteristics of
"Romeo and Juliet", an Elizabethan tragedy. In "Romeo and Juliet",
Romeo, a Montague, falls in love with Juliet, a Capulet, but there
families do not allow them to marry. The conditions are very similar
in both plays but "Romeo and Juliet" is a tragedy whereas "A Midsummer
Night's Dream" unfolds into a comedy. This is shown by the structure
of the play; at the beginning there is order in the city, then the
lovers leave for the wood where the fairies, Puck, in particular,
meddle with the mortals. Towards the end order is returned, a common
structure to an Elizabethan comedy.

In "A Midsummer Night's Dream" there are three groups of characters:
the nobles, the working men and the fairies. Nick Bottom the weaver,
one of the workers, is a main contribution to the play's comedy. His
name, Bottom, is a play on words. When he is in the woods he gets
transformed into a donkey, another name for a donkey is an ass and
another name for a bottom is an ass. Also, a bottom was something used
by a weaver. When the working men are preparing the play they are to
perform he tries to play every role 'let me play Thisbe', 'let me play
the lion too'. Bottom thinks he is the best actor and can fill every
role. He is given the part of Pyramus, the romantic hero. He takes his
role very seriously but the better and more serious he tries to act,
the more comical he becomes. Later in the play Puck, causing mischief,
puts an ass' head on Bottom, this makes the unlikely fling with
Titania even more comical.

The other working men, Peter Quince, a carpenter, Francis Flute, a
bellows-mender, Tom Snout, a tinker, Robin Starveling, a tailor and
Snug, a joiner, add to the humour of the play. Like Bottom, they all
take the play very seriously but with no acting ability they end up
looking ridiculous. Quince tries to use long words but uses them
wrongly, 'Bottom, thou art translated', he is referring to when Bottom
returns to the rehearsal with an ass' head and must mean transformed.
The rehearsal shows greatly their lack of acting abilities; they
pronounce words from the script incorrectly, 'Thisbe, the flower ha'
odious savours sweet'; Quince prompts Bottom, 'odorous!'. Also, they
do not know when they are supposed to speak, Flute says, 'Must I speak
now?'.

Their choice of play is not appropriate as it is meant to be performed
at a wedding and is the tragedy of two lovers that are forced to speak
through a chink in a wall...

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