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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Day Three Slide Show ENGL 305 Dr. Fike.

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Presentation on theme: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream Day Three Slide Show ENGL 305 Dr. Fike."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Day Three Slide Show ENGL 305 Dr. Fike

2 Outline Business: Reminder that your paper proposal is due next time. Rhyme. Review Slide. Return to the day two activity (slide 28). Finish day one PowerPoint. –Day Three PowerPoint: –Bottom –The play’s title: Whose dream is it? –Elizabeth. –Theseus: Background Speech on the imagination –Pyramus and Thisbe (video) if time

3 Business Your paper proposal is due next time. Next assignment (analysis paper, next slide). Have a look at it; we’ll discuss it later. Unofficial quiz (do on your own if you wish): good review for part 1 of the midterm.

4 Issue from Last Time: Rhyme Bedford Companion 51: “The use of rhymed poetry decreases as Shakespeare matures artistically. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is exceptional in that 45 percent of its lines are written in rhymed verse, a higher percentage than for any other play in the canon. We may attribute this to at least two probable causes: first, to the unreal, artificial, dreamlike quality for which Shakespeare is striving, and second, to the fact that one of the main subjects of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is poetry itself— verse as a product of the imagination. Therefore, Shakespeare fits his method to his meaning.”

5 Review Make sure that you have a firm grasp of the following things from day two: –The business with Helena, love, and reason, deconstruction. –Links between 1.1 and 1.2. –Setting: Athens-woods-Athens illustrates a typical pattern in comedy in particular and literature in general. What is the point of the 3-column A Midsummer Night's Dream chart? What relationships emerge among the columns?A Midsummer Night's Dream –Quotations: The play enacts various types of psychological experiences; these include an encounter with the unconscious mind, the spirit world, the paranormal, etc. What else do the quotations suggest?

6 Bottom’s Experience It literally happened. Bottom really IS dreaming, as he himself suspects. He had some kind of psychic experience, but dreaming is his only frame of reference, so that is what he thinks it is. –Intrapsychic: An experience of his own psyche (perhaps of the archetypes of the collective unconscious). –Extrapsychic: Awareness expanded beyond his own psyche (an out-of-body experience). His imagination concocted his experience. He is nuts.

7 Dr. Fike’s Position “Bottom’s vision, of course, is squarely focused on the physical, but if it provides an allegory (if not an actual instance) of a spiritual event, then his befuddlement betokens the genuineness of such an event: visionary experience scrambles the earthly senses.”

8 Visionary Synesthesia Synesthesia: “A phenomenon in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as the hearing of a sound resulting in the sensation of the visualization of a color.” --American Heritage Dictionary

9 Synesthesia (in psychology) “Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means ‘joined perception.’” Source:

10 More: Bottom’s Name Source: Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human A “bottom” is the center of the skein upon which the weaver’s wool is wound. “Bottom” also means the ground or the earth (people are both earthly and “puckish”; Puck is the antithesis of Bottom; Puck’s other name, Robin Goodfellow, was once a popular name for the Devil). Montaigne: “On the loftiest of the world’s thrones we still are sitting on our own Bottom” (“Of Experience”). I Corinthians 2:9-10: “The Spirit searches…the bottom of God’s secrets.” OED, ass: A well-known quadruped of the horse kind, distinguished from the horse by its smaller size, long ears, tuft at end of tail, and black stripe across the shoulders. [Earliest usage is 1000.] ALSO: a term of reproach: An ignorant fellow, a perverse fool, a conceited dolt. Now disused in polite literature and speech. 1602 Shakespeare Merry Wives of Windsor i. i. 157, I am not altogether an asse. [Earliest usage noted is 1578.]

11 “Dream” in the Title Whose dream IS it? –Bottom’s? See 4.1.198-216. “Primal scene”? –The young lovers’? –Theseus’s? –The audience’s? See Epilogue.

12 What if Elizabeth was in the original audience? “Some have theorized that the play might have been written for performance at the wedding of Sir Thomas Berkeley and Elizabeth Carey, in February, 1596.” Source:'s_Drea m#Date_and_sources.'s_Drea m#Date_and_sources “In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Shakespearean scholars have entertained the theory that A Midsummer Night's Dream was a play commissioned to be performed at a court wedding in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I.” Source: r/PNmidsummer.shtml. r/PNmidsummer.shtml

13 New Historicist Reading Montrose in Bedford 27: “Whether or not Queen Elizabeth was present at the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her pervasive cultural presence was a condition of the play’s imaginative possibility.”

14 Summary Cut to summary on slide 26.

15 Theseus in the Renaissance Source for some of the following remarks: D’Orsay W. Pearson, “‘Unkinde’ Theseus: A Study in Renaissance Mythography.” English Literary Renaissance 4 (1974): 276-98.

16 Positive View of Theseus Theseus dealt with villains in ways that mimicked their own unjust treatment of others (e.g., the Procrustean bed, named after Procrustes, a mythical giant who shortened or stretched people to fit his bed).

17 More Positives Theseus defeated the Minotaur (King Minos + taur or bull of Minos) in the Cretan labyrinth. –Minos, the King of Crete, exacted a toll of Athenian young people for the death of his son in Athens. –Labyrinth parallels the woods (in the Renaissance, the labyrinth related to sensuality). –Minotaur parallels Bottom-as-ass.

18 Minotaur

19 Still More Positives Theseus was a great civic leader who established democracy in Athens and gave the city a name, a currency, and a class system. He was a friend to Oedipus, Hercules, Jason, and Pirithous. He was the husband of Hippolyta/Antiope (same person, different names).

20 The Point So Far Theseus was an emblem of friendship, virtue, and reason’s triumph over sensuality.

21 Negative View of Theseus Infidelity: He abandoned Ariadne on Naxos. Later he married her sister, Phaedra. While Theseus was away, Phaedra hit on her stepson, Hippolytus, in a letter. He rejected her and destroyed her letter. She later told Theseus that the young man had tried to rape her. As a result, Theseus had Poseidon destroy his son (chariot accident on the beach). Hippolytus is the “issue” of Theseus’s marriage to Hippolyta: MSND 5.1.400-01: “And the issue they create / Ever shall be fortunate.” Not so much! Story is retold in Spenser’s Faerie Queene, I.v.36ff. (see your handout of passages).

22 Moreover… Theseus was responsible for his father Aegeus’s suicide. Also, he and his buddy, Pirithous, decided to find wives. Theseus wanted Helen, so they abducted her when she was 10 years old. Kidnapper and potential child molester. Pirithous wanted Persephone, so while they were sojourning in hell, they left Helen with Theseus’s mother. Helen’s people rescued her and enslaved Theseus’s mother. Meanwhile, Hades trapped the two guys in chairs of forgetfulness (the model for C. S. Lewis’s silver chair in The Silver Chair, BTW). Hercules, while in hell to deal with Cerberus, rescued Theseus but not Pirithous.

23 And the point is… Theseus is responsible for his father’s suicide, his mother’s abduction and slavery, and the loss of his friend Pirithous in hell. Theseus is a failed harrower of hell.

24 Virgil’s Theseus Virgil places Theseus in the Aeneid, book 6, among the monstrous criminals in Hades—those characterized by unkind and unnatural behavior.

25 AND… Theseus was an absent leader who lost the throne to a usurper named Menestheus. Theseus was ultimately a murder victim—Lycomedes pushed him off a cliff.

26 Summary On the one hand, Theseus is a crime fighter, monster slayer, civic leader, friend, and good husband. On the other, he is a poor husband, an unfaithful lover, an abandoner of women, an unnatural father, a lousy son, an absent leader, and a sex offender.

27 What about Theseus in MSND? Theseus’s opening speech—impatience for sex like a greedy son who wants the last third of his inheritance. Emphasis on law over compassion. The marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta will NOT live up to Oberon’s blessing.

28 Further Points Tension between surface and depth. Bedford 162: Re. the principle of “complementarity”: “Shakespeare seems to have been drawn to stories and persons that were susceptible to plural and even contradictory readings.” Theseus is a good example of this principle.

29 Discussion Let’s read together what Theseus says about the imagination. Then, find a partner and answer some of the following questions (next slide).

30 Theseus and Hippolyta Discuss the Imagination at 5.1.1-27. What is Theseus’s basic point in response to Hippolyta’s statement? Are there differences between the poet and the lunatic or the lover? What does the poet DO? How does Theseus contradict himself? What is his attitude toward art, as manifested in his selection of playlet? What is Hippolyta’s attitude toward art? Toward the story that the lovers have told about their night in the woods? What is the role of imagination in viewing the playlet?

31 Pyramus and Thisbe (video: 1:45) How does the playlet comment on the story of the young lovers? What does it teach us about romantic love? How do we view the wedding party? Is there a connection to Puck’s epilogue? END

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