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A Midsummer Night's Dream By: A. Theseus More strange
than true. I never may believe These antic fables nor these
fairy toys. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool
reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the
poet Are of imagination all compact. One sees more devils
than vast hell can hold: That is the madman. The lover, all as
frantic Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt. The poet's
eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to
earth, from earth to heaven And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to
shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a
name. Such tricks hath strong imagination That, if it would
but apprehend some joy, It comprehends some bringer of
that joy; Or in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a
bush supposed a bear! (V,i,2-22) Theseus, in Scene V of A
Midsummer Night's Dream, expresses his doubt in the
verisimilitude of the lover's recount of their night in the forest.
He says that he has no faith in the ravings of lovers- or
poets-, as they are as likely as madmen are to be divorced
from reason. Coming, as it does, after the resolution of the
lovers' dilemma, this monologue serves to dismiss most of
the play a hallucinatory imaginings. Theseus is the voice of
reason and authority but, he bows to the resulting change of
affection brought about by the night's confused goings on,
and allows Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius to
marry where their hearts would have them. This place where
the line between dream and reality blurs is an important
theme of the play. Theseus is also a lover, but his affair with
Hippolyta is based upon the cold reality of war, "Hippolyta,
I wooed thee with my sword, And won thy love doing thee
injuries..."(I,i,16-17). He is eager to wed Hippolyta and
marriage is the place where reason and judgement rule. He
wins the hand of his bride through action not through flattery,
kisses and sighs inspired by her beauty. In lines 4-6 of his
monologue he dismisses the accounts of lovers and madmen
on the grounds that they are both apt to imagine a false
reality as being real. When, in I,i,56, Hermia tells Theseus, "I
would my father looked but with my eyes", Theseus
responds, "Rather your eyes must with his judgment
look."(57). Theseus has a firm belief that the eyes of lovers
are not to be trusted. That the eye of the lover "...Sees
Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt..."(11) is, to him, proof of
this. It precisely by enchanting the eyes of the lovers that the
faeries manage to create so much mayhem: "Flower of this
purple dye, hit with cupid's archery, sink in apple of his eye!
When his love he doth espy, let her shine as gloriously as the
Venus of the sky."(III,ii,101-7) Puck doesn't change
Helena's nature, nor does he change her features. When
Lysander wakes, he beholds the same Helena that he's
always despised and suddenly he is enthralled. For Theseus
this is merely caprice and in no means grounded in reality.
Theseus doubts even the existence of the faeries, believing
the lovers have, at a loss to explain the inexplicable changes
of heart they've experienced, dreamed them up: "And as
imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the
poet's pen turns them into shapes and gives to airy nothing a
local habitation and a name."(14-17) A trick of the light, an
abundance of shadows, lack of sleep, an overactive
imagination or any one of these or million other causes are
the most likely explanation. In equating lovers, poets and
lunatics Theseus gets into interesting territory and serves to
elevate lovers while he denounces them. The lunatic "...sees
more devils than vast hell can hold.. while the poet's eye
"...Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to
heaven..."(9-13); thus this same imagination is responsible
for both mad ravings and great art. The concrete reality of
earth co-exists with both heaven and hell as the Faerie world
co-exists with the mortal world. A poet could, just as easily,
be a lunatic depending on the nature of his visions. That
lover's are often (bad) poets, is prime example of this
interchangeability. "Such tricks hath strong imagination, that,
if it would but apprehend a joy, it comprehends some
bringer of that joy; or in the night imagining some fear, how
easy is a bush supposed a bear!"(18-22) Theseus describes
the faulty and incomplete reasoning employed by poets and
lovers ... more
Find essay on Flattery
kiss me kate
As a modern audience, we must remember to be mindful of the society in which Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew when we analyze it. This was a time when marriages were made for the convenience of the fathers far more often than for a love already existing between the bride and groom; people often were married without having known each other for very long, and sometimes without ever having met. Instead, one hoped to find love within the marriage once it was in place, to learn to love one's partner--there really were no "better" options. It is also doubtful that acting upon "love at first sight," in any society, necessarily brings greater happiness in marriage than does the slowly-developed, consistent love of a married couple who have learned how to live with and for each other. These are the two contrasting relationships that we see in the play, the former between Lucentio and Bianca, and the latter between Petruchio and Kate.
Thus the "ideal" married relationship presented by the play does not concern the "match made in heaven," in which the man and woman are perfectly suited for each other from the beginning. Rather, and much more realistically, it deals with the proper dispositions that a man and woman might arrive at in order to form a more peaceful, if not perfect, union. The question is not whether Petruchio is Italy's most eligible bachelor--certainly, he is at times grossly misogynistic, possessive, and condescending. However, at the beginning of the play, Kate is by disposition Padua's most ineligible maid. After all, as the title suggests, the play is fundamentally about a shrew, and Kate's transformation is its primary dramatic element. So the question becomes, is Petruchio the right man to bring about this transformation, and the answer is a resounding "yes." Only the carefree, persistent, self-assured manner of a man like Petruchio could break through the barriers of words that Kate has put up between herself and marriage.
Furthermore, Kate gradually reveals throughout the play that she does not truly wish for these barriers to remain standing; when Petruchio is late in arriving to the wedding, she fears the loneliness of an old maid far more than the constrictedness of a marriage. It would hardly have done her any good to have married a malleable man who would alway consent to her headstrong will and endure her tongue-lashings, for that marriage could never have been anything but a dichotomy. Though Petruchio stifles and at times humiliates her, the result is that Kate in the end can enjoy her married life, and, as she finally reveals near the end of the play, can love her husband in that life.
The play is about a young woman, Catherine, her sister, Claire, and a young man, Hal, who studied under her father, Robert and their search for the truth about a mathematical proof. The main character, Catherine, is a confused and disturbed young woman who gave up her own dreams to care for her dying father. Catherine has spent the past five years taking care of her mentally ill father, and when he dies her sacrifices are completely under appreciated. Her sister, Claire, wants Catherine to come to New York where she can keep an eye on Catherine. Then there is Hal who plays Catherine romantic interest. With Hal, Catherine gets a change to claim herself as a mathematician of her fathers statue. The conflict comes when she generates a mathematical proof that might revolutionize mathematics. Yet Claire and Hal do not believe her and question whether she is trying to pass off her fathers work as her own.
John Lee Beatty's back-porch set indicates Robert and Catherine's living space through windows and screen doors. You could fell fall on the stage with a few leaves on the porch and some naked trees of to the side. Pat Collins' lighting is especially effective in the play. To fit the Walter Kerr stage, the porch appears to have been stretched out with neighbors houses on either side.
My personal reaction to this play was a good one. I truly believe that the entire production and the success of this play is dependent on Mary-Louis ... more
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