IMAGE: This image depicts the typical clothing worn by actors when performing on stage. It is interesting to me because given the weather conditions that both the audience and the actors had to endure during performamces, these costumes would have been extremely uncomfortable. Clearly, both women have on a very large, very layered dresses. To top that off, they have on jewelrey and a hat piece on as well. All of this combined would have made a hot summer day in the theatre extremely uncomfortable. The men are a different story. They both have on layered tops and bare legs. Although their legs are not covered, they have collar-like clothing around their necks, which the women do not have. All four of these actors shown above would have been sweltering in the summer sun, and if it was really cold outside, they were probably on the verge of hypothermia. I am sure that Shakespeare used costumes like these during his plays, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, since it had so many young women in it. This picture is important to show because it emphasizes the importance of theatre during the Elizabethan Era, and also what the actors would go through to put on a magnificent show.
VIDEO: This is a trailer for A Midsummer Night's Dream performed entirely by children. The child actors use exact quotes and each child represents a character from the play. This video stood out because it is interesting to see how kids interpret the emotions of the characters in the play.
HISTORICAL: Women in early England were considered to be less important than men. This article describes the journey that Queen Elizabeth and Mary, the first women to reign in England, had to embark on "in order to provide a powerful image of female rule to [their] people." They both came to the throne as strong single women. Eventually, Mary chose to marry and in many of her speeches following their engagement, she used a very powerful and effective strategy to gain the respect and trust from the people of England. In her speeches, she refers to herself as "prince." She continues on to say that she will not be the wife of England, but rather the husband. Hearing Mary refer to herself as a man helps to assure her people who may feel unsettled by her gender that she will do a good job. After Mary's death, Queen Elizabeth I mimics her strategy, but rather than marrying soon after, she stood before Parliament and declared she did not need a husband, for England was her spouse, and the English people were her children. This article made me think of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hippolyta became Queen before she was to be married to Theseus, Duke of Athens. This signifies Hippolyta's independence and power. Many of the women in A Midsummer Night's Dream reject the wishes of their family, and struggle to break free. Hermia struggles to break free from her Father's harsh grasp, and fufill her desire to be with Lysander. She exemplifies the qualities of Mary, who had a husband, but was successful and made her own decisions. In a time where women were not respected, both Queen Elizabeth I and Mary I proved that a man is not essential to the success of a woman. The powerful reigns of these two Queens may have been an inspiration to many of Shakespeare's writings, including A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Beemer, Cristy. "The Female Monarchy: A Rhetorical Strategy Of Early Modern Rule." Rhetoric Review 30.3 (2011): 258-274. Literary Reference Center. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.
SOURCE: This article describes Geoffery Chaucer’s story, Knight's Tale. I picked this article because the main character in it is Theseus, who we all know was the Duke of Athens in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is very obvious that Shakespeare acquired the character Theseus based on Chaucer’s work. Chaucer had a major influence on Shakespeare in other works as well, including Romeo and Juliet, but Knight’s Tale is probably the most obvious piece of borrowed work. In both Chaucer’s Knight's Tale and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus is a strong character. In Knight's Tale, Theseus is responsible for the task of reclaiming the corpses for a group of grieving widows. He must make important decisions along the way and his choices affect a great number of the people around him. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus is the Duke of Athens and his position is clearly one of high importance. He must select the fate of Hermia, and he decides it is her choice of either death or life in a nunnery. This is similar to Theseus's character in Knight's Tale because he has to handle the deaths of many men and their wives and his decisions matter a lot. It is obvious Shakespeare wanted a strong character within his work that had the power to make big decisions, and he looked upon the work of Geoffrey Chaucer to develop his character, Theseus.
Hunter, Brooke. "Remenants Of Things Past: Memory And The Knight's Tale." Exemplaria 23.2 (2011): 126-146. Literary Reference Center. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
LITERARY CRITICISM: The author of this article, M. E. Comtois, feels as though Shakespeare included characters within A Midsummer Night's Dream who are infatuated with love as a way to simply make his play funnier. Comtois thinks that Lysander, Hermia, Demitrius and Helena are not meant to be the main characters, and the people around them are the main characters. For example, Puck put the love potion in the wrong lover's eyes and then he had to go through the trouble of drugging them all with it in order to solve his problems. The characters are completely clueless as this is going on, which makes the play even funnier. Comtois also stresses that Shakespeare wanted the overall message of the play to be what his audience walks away with. I think that Comtois's argument is valid, because all of the disastrous things happen when Puck, Oberon, and Titania mess with the lives of others. Many of Shakespeare's plays are based on true love and the power of choice, but in this play the characters that actually love eachother are forced to love the wrong people because of a love potion.
Comtois, M. E. "The Comedy Of The Lovers In A Midsummer Night's Dream." Essays In Literature 12.1 (1985): 15-25. Literary Reference Center. Web. 7 Feb. 2013.
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