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Essay on Shakespeare's Sources for A Midsummer Night's Dream

Assignment id 1002216
Discipline Other
Assignment type Essay
Words 2392
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Shakespeare's Sources for A Midsummer Night's Dream A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most-performed plays: a delightful comedy, but filled with enough possible tragedy to avoid becoming saccharine. A lot of this dreadful possibility comes in Shakespeare's sources, since he directly admits in Act V. The entertainments Philostrate suggests, all reports obtained from Ovid's Metamorphoses, reveal the unhappy endings all too inclined to spring out of tales such as that of their four lovers of Shakespeare's play, or even the strife-torn fairy tales. "The battle with the Centaurs, to be filmed / By an Athenian eunuch together with the harp" (V.i.44-5) is the earliest of Philostrate's suggestions, and the most blatant. Centaurs are an epitome of the harmful fairy-world that underlies so much of Shakespeare's drama: half-man, half-beast, they remember Bottom's similar, albeit much more humorous, illness. Lust and jealousy lead to the undoing of the marriage feast, even for the Centaurs' thieving of girls provokes a battle. Thanks to the fairy intervention, all in Shakespeare's play are happy with their partners: but how might the wedding happen to be marred if Demetrius and Lysander both still adored Hermia? "These are the forgeries of jealousy" (II.i.81) yells Titania into Oberon, and also their contention, also a result of lust and jealousy and unbridled nature, fortunately enters the play just peripherally. Theseus' law, and psychedelic medication, overrules the sensual, animal facet of love also prevents such violence out of marring, really unmaking, the comedy. "The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, / Tearing the Thracian singer [Orpheus] into their anger" (V.i.48-9) is an alternate selection, but one just as important. "The insane Ciconian women" (p.259) cry "There is.

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