Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Overview

A Midsummer Night's Dream is an enchanting and extraordinary comedy. With its rich poetry and vigorous prose, and its combination of magic, myth, romance and humor, it ranks among Shakespeare's most popular and memorable plays. However, it has also increasingly been recognized as a profound and penetrating exploration of love, desire, gender, social hierarchy, dramatic art, imagination and vision.

In this Reader's Guide, Nicolas Tredell:

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Overview

A Midsummer Night's Dream is an enchanting and extraordinary comedy. With its rich poetry and vigorous prose, and its combination of magic, myth, romance and humor, it ranks among Shakespeare's most popular and memorable plays. However, it has also increasingly been recognized as a profound and penetrating exploration of love, desire, gender, social hierarchy, dramatic art, imagination and vision.

In this Reader's Guide, Nicolas Tredell:

• explores the key critical responses to the play, from the late seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries
• provides succinct and searching accounts of the most vibrant commentaries and interpretations
• sets these accounts in their critical, theoretical and historical contexts.

Informed and incisive, this survey is an invaluable resource for students, teachers and all those who wish to enhance their grasp of Dream criticism and engage in the ongoing critical debates about the play.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

NICOLAS TREDELL is Consultant Editor of the Palgrave Macmillan Readers' Guides series and has produced a number of Guides for the series. He has published widely on literary criticism and theory – his previous publications include: The Critical Decade (1993), Conversations with Critics (1994) and a history of film theory, Cinemas of the Mind (2002). For many years he has taught and convened Sussex University literature courses, most recently on Shakespeare.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements x

Notes on the Text xi

Introduction: Discusses the date, text and sources of the Dream and outlines the rest of the Guide 1

Chapter 1 1662-1898: Labyrinth of Enchantment 14

Considers observations Samuel Pepys John Dryden Samuel Johnson Edmund Malone Charles Taylor Ludwig Tieck August von Schlegel William Hazlitt Samuel Taylor Coleridge Nathan Drake William Maginn Joseph Hunter Hermann Ulrici Henry Norman Hudson Georg Gottfried Gervinus Sir Daniel Wilson Karl Elze Denton Jacques Snider John Weiss Edward Dowden Charles Ebenezer Moyse Julia Wedgwood E. K. Chambers George Brandes

Topics include the supernatural elements of the play, its structure and genre, its possible symbolic significance, its representation of women and its portrayals of Bottom and Theseus

Chapter 2 1900-49: Quest for Constancy 31

Discusses the happy and dark elements of the Dream G. K. Chesterton

Bottom as a great comic character J. B. Priestley

the play as a creative transformation of the masque Enid Welsford

patterns of imagery G. Wilson Knight Caroline Spurgeon

the Dream as a comedy of love H. B. Charlton

Titania as the Indian boy's lover Donald C. Miller

Chapter 3 The 1950s: Concord from Discord 46

Explores the Dream as an affirmation of marriage Paul N. Siegel Paul A. Olson

the unity of the play Peter F. Fisher

its respect for both love and imagination John Russell Brown

its scepticism about fantasy C. L. Barber).

Chapter 4 The 1960s: Order and Outrage 59

Examines gaps in awareness between characters and audience in the Dream Bertrand Evans

the visionary aspect of Bottom's dream Frank Kermode

the play as a dance G. K. Hunter

the Dream as a 'Defense of Dramatic Poetry' R. W. Dent

the erotic and dark elements of the play Jan Kott

picturization and panoramas in the Dream David P. Young

the play's ambivalence Stephen Fender

Chapter 5 The 1970s: Tongs and Bones 75

Looks at the Dream as exorcism Alexander Leggatt

the play as affirmation of dream over reason Marjorie B. Garber

the excesses of Kott's interpretation David Bevington

the Dream as a fantasy of aristocratic domination Elliot Krieger

Chapter 6 The 1980s: Shattering the Dream 88

Considers the Dream in terms of patriarchal, heterosexist ideology Shirley Nelson Garner

the play's representations of women, marriage, the craftsmen and drama David Marshall

the Dream and the pervasive cultural presence of Queen Elixabeth I Louis Adrian Montrose

the craftsmen's struggle to produce a class-appropriate drama James H. Kavanagh

the craftsmen's deference to their audience Theodore B. Leinwand

the craftsmen and festive theory Annabel Patterson

Chapter 7 The 1990s: Sifting the Fragments 106

Discusses the Dream and 'mimetic desire' René Girard

anamorphosis in the play James L. Calderwood

its uses of 'or' and 'and' in the Dream Terence Hawkes

its joining and misjoinings Patricia Parker

its relation to race and empire Margot A. Hendricks

its displacement of Ovid Jonathan Bate

its generic instability Helen Hackett

Chapter 8 The 2000s: Refiguring the Maze 125

Explores the Dream as apotrope (turning away) of myth A. D. Nuttall

as a 'queer' play Douglas E. Green

as less 'queer' than The Two Noble Kinsmen Alan Sinfield

as an affirmation of marriage and family Thomas R. Frosch

as an example of 'impure aesthetics' Hugh Grady

Chapter 9 1935-99: Dream on Screen 140

Kenneth Rothwell on the 1935 film Richard Watts Jr. Allardyce Nicoll Thomas Marc Parrott Harold F. Brooks Roger Manvell John Collick

Maurice Hindle on the 1969 film Roger Manvell Peter Hall

Martin White on the 1981 film Amy Roberts David Myerscough-Jones Susan Willis

Mark Thornton Burnett on the 1996 film Kenneth Rothwell

Peter Donaldson on the 1999 film

Conclusion: Dream on 152

Greening the Dream

the play and the way we live now

the Dream and the 're-enchantment industry'

Notes 155

Select Bibliography 170

Select Filmography 175

Index 177

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