Presentation on theme: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Getting to the Bottom of Things."— Presentation transcript:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Getting to the Bottom of Things
The Fifth Act In the middle of MND, the lovers act out the irrationality, confusion, passion, and aggression of love, and then they all fall asleep, exhausted. By the end of the 4th Act, all the lovers (including Bottom) awaken, and all the conflicts are resolved. Why, then, is there a fifth act?
Theseus’s evaluation of the lovers’ experience in the woods: pp. 70-72 (5.1.1-27) Theseus is here back in the role of spokesman for the rational versus imagination. But why, then, did he reverse his verdict at the end of Act 4? A. He’s inconsistent B. He’s putting on a show of the logical authority figure C. He says one thing here but really represents and means the opposite
The Lovers’ Evaluation of their Experience in the Woods: At the end of beginning of Act 4, the lovers are awakened by the hunter’s horn: Peter Hall Clip of 4.1.142-202 Have the lovers been significantly altered by their experience in the wood, or is everything really the same as if the experience was
Bottom’s evaluation of his Experience in the Woods (4.1.203-22): Three film versions: by James Cagney (Max Reinhardt film, 1935) by Curt Appelgren (Peter Hall film, 1968) by Kevin Kline (Michael Hoffman film, 1999) Which actor’s interpretation do you like best? A. Cagney’s B. Appelgren’s C. Kline’s
The Play-Within-the-Play: Bottom, in mentioning the poet Quince, and Theseus in next talking about the poet, together look forward to the play put on by the Mechanicals for the lovers at Theseus's court: clip from Hoffman film. How do the lovers respond to the mechanicals’ play? A) They make fun of it B) They are moved by it C) They dismiss it as silly D) A, B and C E) A and B
What’s the difference between the lovers as audience and us as audience? see Theseus’s comment about the proper audience response (p. 78; 5.1.211-218)
The Mechanicals' play all along has commented on the theme of authority and love: the lovers' experience in the wood has been a kind of rehearsal for marriage Bottom mimics the wild passions driving the lovers into and within the wood the confusions in the mechanicals' efforts to read their parts and understand their roles mirror the confusion and lack of communication that occurs between the lovers in the forest the plot of the Pyramus and Thisbe play is about the way passion becomes confusion it is also about the easy reversability of comedy and tragedy, characteristic of the experience in the wood
The lovers respond to the play with laughter that speaks: their sense of superiority over the lowly tradesmen their kindly sympathy for the lowly tradesmen their new-found perspective on themselves that allows them to see themselves in the mechanicals their active engagement in the performance as audience, which has transforming powers to make something out of nothing (as must the actor)
Summary: The last part of A Midsummer Night's Dream is about the poet's (and actors') powers and the role of the audience we are finally the ones who must "find the concord of this discord" (5.1.60) our imaginations, added to Shakespeare's and the performers, transform "airy nothings" into something of "great constancy" (5.1. 16, 26) together, we can make an ass bottomless.