My apologies about a week’s delay on making a decision on the play. I have wrestled with which of the plays to choose, since there was no clear winner in the voting process. I am certain that part of me was hoping someone new would come and cast a vote for something else already elected. And while The Tempest was tempting, I figured Midsummer would serve as a nice, friendly entry point for those who are not avid readers of Shakespeare.
And now, some background information about the play we are about to read together:
Summary of the plot or story
The main plot of Midsummer is a complex farce that involves two sets of couples (Hermia & Lysander and Helena & Demetrius) whose romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where Oberon, the King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania, preside. Puck (or Robin Goodfellow) is a major character who is full of mischief and tricks. Other visitors to the enchanted forest include Bottom the weaver and his friends Snug, Snout, Quince and Flute who want to rehearse their dire but hilarious rendering of the play Pyramus and Thisbe. Themes illustrated in the play are that Love triumphs in the end and the pleasure of Dreaming the Impossible Dream.
Date First Performed
It is believed that A Midsummer Night’s was first performed between 1595 and 1596. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and A Midsummer Night’s Dream would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.
Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1600. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.
The setting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The setting for the drama is Athens in Greece
Theme of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The play is categorised as a Comedy
Most important characters
The most important characters are: Hermia, Lysander, Bottom, Puck, Oberon (King of the Fairies) and Titania (Queen of the Fairies)
History of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Unlike many of his other plays it does not include any historical figures. The feast of John the Baptist was celebrated as an English festival on June 24 (Midsummer Day) It was believed that on Midsummer Night that the fairies and witches held their festival. To dream about Midsummer Night was to conjure up images of fairies and witches and other similar creatures and supernatural events.
William Shakespeare’s Main Source for A Midsummer Night’s Dream
All characters and plot are purely fictitious but Shakespeare may have based parts of the play on The Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (1340 – 1400)
On September 19th I will be posting a recap discussion for this play, sharing some of my favorite lines and scenes and overall thoughts on the play. So dust off your folios and pull out the play. Grab a friend or a merry troupe of players and recite the play aloud (or, if your troupe is imagined, perhaps in your head may suffice) and read some Shakespeare for the next month.