Friday, 16 March 2018

Book #12

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare


Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. 

Nothing short of wonderful.

Shakespeare tangles with love in amazing ways throughout this play. Demetrius loves Hermia, Hermia loves Lysander, Lynsander loves Hermia back. Seems like your standard love-triangle until a fairy zooms along and spreads some flower dew on to Lysander’s eyes to make him fall in love with the first person he sees. Let the chaos ensue.

It’s nothing like the epic love story of Romeo and Juliet; Shakey makes a mockery of love here, highlighting its frailty and inconsonance. Not only are there problems in love with our foursome, but also between the fairy king and queen. The journey we go through to unravel these relationships into something acceptable is totally delectable.

I enjoyed his differentiation of the three different parties here; the royals and lords speaking directly and behaving fairly reasonably, the group of actors bumbling around trying to put together a show with little to no experience, and the fairies speaking harmoniously and lyrically of natural wonders. Their words really cast them apart, and it was clear to see the troupe of actors were the true comic value here, particularly poor Bottom and his ass’s head.

Always interesting in Shakespearean creations is the role of women. The play opens with Hermia’s father betrothing her to Demetrius much in the way of trading property. Should Hermia disagree to the ‘trade’, she can choose either death or a nunnery. I was also shocked by Helena’s desperation when pursuing Demetrius, asking him to treat her as he would a dog and she would continue to follow him. GIRL, you are better than that.

I very much doubt anyone can review Shakespeare with any amount of skill. I really loved this, though; the dreamlike quality, the comedy, and the skill with which the whole thing was structured. The only thing that could have made it better for me would be Hermia and Helena going “fuck this shit” and skipping off hand in hand into the woods. 

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