What Jenny's Reading

{April 23, 2014}   Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Part 2 of 2

So when last we met, Lysander and Hermia were running away from her father, Demetrius and Helena were looking for them, and Oberon was planning to humiliate Titania by making her fall in love with a beast, and then he took pity on Helena. Robin accidentally anointed Lysander’s eyes, and Lysander fell in love with Helena.
Here I do have some sympathy for Helena. She assumes Lysander is being a jerk and making fun of her, and I would’ve probably reacted the same way. Of course she has no way of knowing about the flower or that Lysander is magically in love with her, so she flees. Lysander leaves Hermia asleep and follows Helena.
There’s more stuff between Titania and Bottom that really just shows how crazy in love she is. Again, I’m skipping a lot because it’s my least favorite part of the play. However, I do love the part where she says “Tie up my love’s tongue; bring him silently.” In the film, he’s making donkey noises all over the place, and the play suggests he’s doing the same. I like to think that even in her drugged, love-addled state she’s all “Ugh, stop talking!!”
Anyway. Scene cuts to Oberon, wondering whether she’d woken up yet. Then Robin appears and confirms it, and they giggle together about how funny it is that his wife is essentially mind-raped and won’t it be hilarious when she wakes up and figures out how they played her? (Sorry!) To break up this grossness, we have Demetrius and Hermia entering. Oberon and Robin figure out at about the same time that hijinks have ensued!
Demetrius moons after Hermia in much the same fashion that Helena mooned after him earlier, so at least they have that in common. She bitches at him, thinking he did something to Lysander. Demetrius denies it, and she walks off to look for him. Demetrius then lies down to go to sleep, reasoning that there’s no use following her when she’s so angry. (Remember, this is the guy who threatened to abandon Helena in the same woods to possible harm.) I know the sleeping is a plot point, but it just makes him look like a total dick. Robin finds him and anoints his eyes.
Anyway, enter Helena and Lysander. Lysander is begging her to give him a chance and she’s bitching at him about how he’s really in love with Hermia and WTF is he playing at here? Of course they’re loud enough to wake up Demetrius, and he sees Helena and falls in love instantly. Helena immediately thinks they’re both mocking her, and Demetrius and Lysander start fighting. Lysander tries to convince Demetrius that he’s (Demetrius) is in love with Hermia, and offers her to him (again, I know it was a different time, but…gross). Hermia finds them and they’re both super rude to her. Helena also thinks she’s part of the mocking game. In the film, this is probably my favorite scene. They end up mud wrestling because they all fell in the dirt, and Lysander is still practically naked. Hermia tries to attack Helena, thinking she’s put some kind of spell on Lysander to make him love her (Helena) instead of Hermia. All the while, Oberon and Robin are watching, and Oberon gives Robin the most hilarious irritated look. Hee!
The boys decide to fight to the death to prove they love Helena. Oberon tells Robin to shroud them in mist so they won’t see each other and can’t hurt each other. He’s also decided to lift the enchantment from Titania.
Robin causes the boys to get lost in the woods by raising up mist and mimicking their voices. They then get tired (I’m not clear on whether Robin made them tired or the adventures of the night got to them) and fall asleep. Helena and Hermia fall asleep too, close by.
Scene shifts to Bottom and Titania. They have some dialog that establishes he’s turning into an actual donkey, and then he says he’s tired and wants to sleep, so they fall asleep. These characters fall asleep quickly, don’t they? I usually take at least ten minutes, but whatever. Oberon cures her and they reconcile.
Theseus and his hunting party, which includes his fiancée Hippolyta and Egeus, Hermia’s father, find them sleeping. Egeus is all “The hell?” because even though he’s a father strict enough to want his daughter dead for not marrying the right guy, he’s also the father who has no idea that his daughter ran off and wasn’t home all night. Theseus gets a great line where he says he thinks the four got up early to “observe the right of May.” For any of you who don’t know, he’s talking about Beltane, or May Day, and making a sexual reference. I told you he thinks Egeus is a dick! He wakes the kids up, and they confess that they ran off. Egeus is a dick again, bitching about how he wants them dead, but Demetrius says he doesn’t want to marry Hermia anymore, he wants to marry Helena. Theseus overrules Egeus and says that the couples will share his wedding ceremony. Theseus and the rest of them go off and leave our lovers alone (it’s worth mentioning that in the movie, at this point, they are all naked). They talk about how they barely remember anything that happened the night before, as if it were all a dream.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t really care for the rest of the play. I think it should’ve ended pretty much right here. I don’t care about the celebrations at the wedding and I don’t care about the play-within-a-play, especially since it doesn’t cause people to start murdering each other (hi, Hamlet!). But Shakespeare disagreed, so here we go. Bottom wakes up and is a giant blowhard again. He thinks he was dreaming the night away, and decides he’s going to make his friends write him a special song that he’ll sing during the play. The play that he never got to finish rehearsing, by the way. He finds his friends and they decide they’re still going to perform. Cut to the reception, or whatever they called it back in the day. The kids have been talking about what they remember and surprisingly enough, nobody thinks they deserve to be in Ye Olde Mental Warde. Theseus picks Bottom’s play to watch mainly because he hates everything else that’s offered. Egeus again acts like a dick and tries to convince him not to watch it, but Theseus issues Ye Olde Smack Downe (I’m sorry, I started and I can’t seem to stop!) and it’s decided they’ll watch Bottom’s play. Thus begins the silliness of overacting, messed up lines, and breaking the fourth wall. Amazingly, Theseus doesn’t order them all dead at the end, but he does say “for when the players are all dead there need none to be blamed” which I think says everything I need to say.
Then the scene cuts to the fairies, and they sing a song and the play is over.
See? Not an exciting ending. It should end when the marriage announcement is made, but whatever. Well, Oberon blesses the three couples with happiness and lasting love, so that’s nice.
I feel like I should end this better, but that’s what happens. Maybe other people like the play parts and can explain to me why they’re awesome? It’s a play on Romeo and Juliet, I know. If I remember correctly, there’s a discrepancy in when this play and Romeo and Juliet were written, so either Romeo and Juliet was inspired by the play-within-a-play, or the play-within-a-play copied Romeo and Juliet. There’s your Shakespeare trivia for the day!


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