Anne Barton's Shakespeare Essay

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The Different Aspects That Create a Fascinating Play

In Anne Barton's essay, The Synthesizing Impulse of a Midsummer Night's Dream, Barton emphasizes the various aspects of A Midsummer Night's Dream including its literary and historical traditions which are stitched together to create such a fascinating play. She compares the comedy with other famous works in order to make notice of what makes this play such so unique. The play not only "knits together a number of different historical times and places, literary traditions, character types, and modes of thought," (Barton 6) but it manifests itself in the play's unusual variety of meters and verse forms.

In the first part ...view middle of the document...

Puck's speech in Act 5(5.1 227-28) distances the audience from laughter and creates images of death and destruction. In this speech itself, Shakespeare succeeds in balancing art, life, reality and illusion. Furthermore, throughout the play, Shakespeare lets the audience step into both a dream world and a reality world by drawing a thin line between the two. In order to establish this dream world, vivid imagery is used.

In the last part of the essay, Barton notes that the last act of A Midsummer Night's Dream is "superfluous"(9) considering that all the business of the comedy is already concluded at the end of Act 4. The plot of the lovers trying to get together and be happy with the right one is already wrapped up. However, Shakespeare finds a need to add a fifth act in order to include the presentation of the Pyramus and Thisbe play to the Duke and his bride. Also, in this last act, the actors are trying to show the "wellborn", that the working class can also feel love for one another and have tragedy in their love tales. This is shown through three couples: Theseus and Hippolyta, Demetrius and Helena, and Lysander and Hermia. The only way they are able to actually tell them this is to act it out in a play.

Lastly, Barton describes of Puck's last monologue which closes the play. This monologue which mentions the actors as "shadows" and concludes that the play has a "weak and idle theme,/ No more yielding than a dream," Shakespeare once again emphasizes images of dreams and sleep and shadows and illusions. Barton says the reason for this is to make clear to the readers that the play has created its own reality.

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