A Midsummer Night's Dream (Folger Shakespeare Library)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Folger Shakespeare Library)

William Shakespeare

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0743477545

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare stages the workings of love. Theseus and Hippolyta, about to marry, are figures from mythology. In the woods outside Theseus’s Athens, two young men and two young women sort themselves out into couples—but not before they form first one love triangle, and then another.

Also in the woods, the king and queen of fairyland, Oberon and Titania, battle over custody of an orphan boy; Oberon uses magic to make Titania fall in love with a weaver named Bottom, whose head is temporarily transformed into that of a donkey by a hobgoblin or “puck,” Robin Goodfellow. Finally, Bottom and his companions ineptly stage the tragedy of “Pyramus and Thisbe.”

The authoritative edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:

-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

-Scene-by-scene plot summaries

-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases

-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language

-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books

-An annotated guide to further reading

Essay by Catherine Belsey

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.

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sometimes been obliged to de-viate, in the higher interest of being understood. I have annotated, as well, a limited number of such other matters, sometimes of interpretation, sometimes of general or historical relevance, as have seemed to me seriously worthy of inclusion. These annotations have been most carefully restricted: this is not intended to be a book of literary commentary. It is for that reason that the glossing of metaphors has been severely restricted. There is almost literally no

metric feet) followed by lines of 6 syllables (3 metric feet) 16 iambic tetrameter 17 for 18 that to 19 protect 56 act 3 • scene 1 dreadful thing. For there is not a more fearful wildfowl20 than your lion living.21 And we ought to look to ’t.22 Snout Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion. 30 Bottom Nay. You must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck, and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect23 – “Ladies” – or

or any night in midsummer, when the world is largest. Bottom is Shakespeare’s Everyman, a true original, a clown rather than a fool or jester. He is a wise clown, though he smilingly denies his palpable wisdom, as if his innocent vanity did not extend to such pretension. One delights in Falstaff (unless one is an academic moralist), but one loves Bottom, though necessarily he is the lesser figure of the two. No one in Shakespeare, not even Hamlet or Rosalind, Iago or Edmund, is more intelligent

Demetrius, and Helena are the most obvious and, at the same time, the most complex narrative skeins from which Shakespeare weaves his play.The positions at the start are as follows: 1. Lysander loves Hermia 2. Demetrius loves Hermia 3. Hermia loves Lysander 4. Helena loves Demetrius But the complications are immediately under way: 2a. Egeus, Hermia’s father, wants her to marry Demetrius 3a.Theseus, ruling Duke of Athens, is obliged to endorse Egeus’ right to have Hermia marry the man he

one tradition with another. Accordingly, after many exchanges between and among the four lovers,Shakespeare introduces a major narrative intervention: 5.At Oberon’s instigation, and in an attempt to improve matters, Puck (mistaking one Athenian for another) causes: 1b. Lysander to fall in love with Helena 1c. Demetrius to fall in love with Hermia This in turn causes all manner of complications, progressing through a swift-moving variety of circumstances to: 2c.Demetrius and Lysander

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