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Actions Speak Louder Than Words Essay

1241 words - 5 pages

Expression is universal. The majority of all people can interpret exasperated sighs, wide eyes, loud voices, clapping, etc. Even when characters are not physically speaking, movies emit numerous messages through actor portrayal. Audiences visually experience characters’ physical reactions which are not included in books. The actors’ individual portrayals of characters in Michael Hoffman’s 1999 film, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, enhance the extreme personalities of characters already established in William Shakespeare’s play.
By using tone of voice and pace of speech, the movie characters offer insight into personality more clearly than expressed in books. Although Shakespeare’s words alone indicate Egeus’s disproval of Lysander, the movie stresses his hatred for disobedience through his speech addressing Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander in the initial scene. In attempt to demonstrate authority over the noncompliant lovers, Egeus speaks loudly while clearly pronouncing each syllable as if spitting the words out of anger. The movie offers a desperate side to Egeus not illustrated in the text because he is so frantic for control that yelling is his sole way of catching the lover’s attention and regaining the dominance that he craves. The movie also illustrates how Egeus remains consistent with his disapproval of Lysander because when Theseus proclaims the lovers’ marriage, Egueus’ facial expression is furious, demonstrating how he does not grow as a character because he remains close-minded. Though Helena is young and immature compared to Egeus, her character is also better conveyed in the movie than the text due to the actor portrayal. Shakespeare portrays Helena as a desperate and jealous person; however, Hoffmann’s Helena exudes those characteristics. From the onset of the film, Helena speaks quickly with a clear, loud voice. In the beginning, she screams repetitively for Demetrius, forcing him to recede into the house and disturbing the quietness of court life. Although Helena is high class, the movie depicts her as an outsider of the court because she is outgoing and desperate unlike the other quiet, polished nobles; a perception that is not as evident in the text. Shakespeare’s play establishes personalities for all characters and allows readers to perceive them anyway while Hoffman’s film begins with Shakespeare’s character and continually adds depth through manner of speech and other aspects of actor portrayals.
The physical movements, or blocking of individuals expand on personality traits already expressed in the text. Books allow readers to imagine individual character movement while movies visually depict the action to create magnified personalities of characters. In the case of film, actions speak louder than words. When Lysander states his love for Hermia as the couple inform Helena of their departure, Helena rolls her eyes dramatically and crosses her arms. A simple twitch of the eye and repositioning of arms...

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