Tracy's Midsummer Night's Dream
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Literary Criticism: Shakespeare's Poetry in MSND

Literary Criticism: Shakespeare's Poetry in MSND | Tracy's Midsummer Night's Dream | Scoop.it
Tracy Ayotte's insight:

William Shakespeare is said to be one of the greatest play-writes of all time. His plays have influenced generations of literature. A professor at Columbia University, Mark Van Doren, analyzed "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." In his literary criticism, he states that Shakespeare’s work is remarkable and it is extraordinary that there is poetry in every line of his plays. He continues by saying that "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," “shines [...] in darkness, but shines merrily” (1). Doren explains that this dark humor was popular in many of Shakespeare’s plays, such as "Romeo and Juliet," "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." Reoccurring themes in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" include flowers, the moon, water, and music. These themes are used to make poetic statements about love and nature. The fairies are a big part of the magical, poetic side of the story because they are surrounded and control nature. King Oberon and Queen Titania’s argument is believed to cause floods, “in anger at Oberon’s brawls [Titania] has sucked up from the sea contagious fogs, made every river overflow, drowned the fields and rotted the green corn” (3). The mystical explanation of why floods occur and the crop failure was hilarity during the Renaissance. Shakespeare’s purpose in writing about fairies controlling the weather was to make the play comical. Water is also used to express emotion and growth. “The roses in Hermia’s cheeks fade fast ‘for want of rain’ [I. i. 130], but rain will come” (3). The mortals’ love lives are being described with nature because the theme is poetic. Helena’s “eyes are bathed with salt tears” [II. ii. 92-3], Demetrius “‘hails’ and ‘showers’ oaths on Helena” [I. i. 245] and the pansy is soaked in its juices (3). Shakespeare’s poetry woven into "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" is used to make the language seem mystical yet natural.

 

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Tayla Menard's comment, March 3, 2013 3:23 PM
Holy Shakespeare.
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Video: Animaniacs - A Midsummer Nights Dream - YouTube

Tracy Ayotte's insight:

Understanding Shakespearean language can be confusing, but with the right tools, it is managable. The Animaniacs cartoon is a funny retelling of Puck's final speech. It is important to look at the play through different lenses to figure out what Shakespeare meant in his plays. Studying the groundling approach, prose and verse, and contemporary translations gives the play a different meaning. Anyone can read Shakespeare, but to understand and connect to his writing requires critical thinking. The translation by the Animanias is just as funny and accurate as the original epilogue itself.  Shakespeare's use of language and his craft in forming the play's comedy needs no apology or explanation.

 

 

"Animaniacs - A Midsummer Nights Dream." YouTube. YouTube, 28 May 2010. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.

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Historical Article: Tradition in MSND

Historical Article: Tradition in MSND | Tracy's Midsummer Night's Dream | Scoop.it
Tracy Ayotte's insight:

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is full of love, affairs, and societal pressures to be married. This article explains how society pressured people's views on sex and love during the Renaissance. Sex was meant for procreation, in the privacy of one's home. Hermia is clearly affected by traditional views of sex when she rejects Lysander's advances in Act 2 Scene 2. She appears to be the only character with traditional values; Oberon and Titania have affairs and Helena is begging to sleep with Demetrius. Shakespeare used the nontraditional approach of sex and love to make his play a comedy. The irony of Helena and Demetrius's situation is comical because in Act 2 Scene 2, he threatens to rape her in the woods, which would be exactly what she wants. Base instincts and animal attractions equate to lust, one of the seven deadly sins. Using comedy as a tool, Shakespeare addresses the morality of the issue.

 

 

Terpstra, Nicholas. "Machiavelli In Love: Sex, Self, And Society In The Italian Renaissance." Renaissance & Reformation/Renaissance Et Reforme 34.1/2 (2011): 298-300. Literary Reference Center. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.

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Source: The Bible

Source: The Bible | Tracy's Midsummer Night's Dream | Scoop.it
Tracy Ayotte's insight:

Shakespeare attended grammar school, church, and daily prayer, which clearly shows his knowledge of the Bible and scripture. His mother, Mary Arden, grew up Catholic and read the Bible multiple times a day. Thomas Baldwin, a Shakespearean analyst, agrees that Shakespeare was likely influenced by the Bible, "The best available evidence seems to indicate that Shakespeare's private reading of the Bible [...] was the main source of the comprehensive knowledge of the Bible that is evident in his plays" (212). The comedy of his play could be appreciated in a time when religion was the center of daily life in the Renaissance. Not only was it a spiritual system but it was also a political one as well. The state held power over one's mortal life and also one's immortal soul. When life expectancy seldom went to middle age for the majority of the population, a majority of the population would naturally look forward to the possibility of redemption. The comedy of the play is tied to the fantasy of the fairy realm. There is no redemption for the characters, only physical pleasure and their basic natures which lead to chaos, such as Bottom being turned into an ass. The characters provide an escape from the mundane world as stated in the epilogue; their journey could be considered a dream. This is Shakespeare at his wittiest, knowing full well the audience came to be entertained, yet he apologizes for doing just that.

 

 

Shaheen, Naseeb. "Shakespeare's Knowledge Of The Bible--How Acquired." Shakespeare Studies 20.(1988): 201. Academic Search Elite. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.

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Gelsomina Gambardella's comment, March 10, 2013 8:32 PM
I found it very interesting that you decided to use the Bible as a soruce for A Midsummer's Night dream. How did you come up with the concept that Shakespeare used the Bible for a source? -Gelsomina Gambardella :)
Tracy Ayotte's comment, March 10, 2013 10:14 PM
I tried to think of something that everyone in the Renaissance would have read, and the Bible has been studied for thousands of years!
Jack Lanoie's comment, March 10, 2013 10:27 PM
Why did you choose the Bible as a source rather than choosing one of the many plays or poems that Shakespeare took direct quotes, characters and story lines from?
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Image: The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer

Image: The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer | Tracy's Midsummer Night's Dream | Scoop.it
The Girl with the Pearl Earring (1665,Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague) by Vermeer,Baroque Art artist. www.BacktoClassics.com
Tracy Ayotte's insight:

Jan Vermeer's, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring," was painted circa 1665, the height of the Renaissance. The painting portrays a young woman turning her head over her left shoulder and wearing a pearl earring. She is not dressed in upper class clothing, so her earring draws attention. During the Renaissance, a middle class was created diminishing the extreme barriers between the wealthy and the poor. It is possible that she is in the middle class, or that she is in the lower class but involved with someone wealthy. Her position in the painting was uncommon before the Renaissance, portraits were always done straight on. The elements of art involved with this painting were new to the industry and influenced other artists of the Renaissance. The way this art connects with the play is that what is, is not necessarily found in appearances. Under a spell, Titania's attraction to Bottom would also be an uncommon thing. Though comic, the lesson learned is not to strive beyond one's class.

 

"The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer." BackToClassics.com Virtual Art Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2013. 

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Derek Kruzan's comment, March 10, 2013 7:03 PM
I liked how you took a picture that was seemingly unrelated to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and connected it too the play. most of us just picked really obvious pictures
Austin Berard's comment, March 10, 2013 7:48 PM
Commenting on Derek's comment i also agree that you did a great job connecting this "random" image to one of Shakespeare's play.
Tracy Ayotte's comment, March 10, 2013 10:15 PM
Thanks everyone! (: