Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Author: William Shakespeare
Publication Date: 1600
Genre(s): Fiction, Drama, Comedy
“Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour / Draws on apace…”
Hermia is in love with Lysander; unfortunately, she is being forced to marry Demetrius, live the rest of her life as a nun, or die. She and Lysander decide to escape to a forest in hopes of eloping. Helena is in love with Demetrius, so she tells him of Hermia’s plan; Helena hopes to convince Demetrius that she is the better woman. Oberon, King of the Fairies, witnesses all of this fuss in the forest and sends his sprite, Puck, to spread a magical juice over Demetrius’ eyes. When the concoction is applied to the eyelids of a sleeping person, that person will wake up and fall in love with the first living thing they see. Oberon’s hope is for Demetrius to fall in love with the lovestruck Helena. Unfortunately, Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and everything goes awry for the four lovers.
Man, here I thought The Taming of the Shrew was bad with the whole “play within a play” thing… A Midsummer Night’s Dream has four interconnecting plots, one of which is (of course) a play within a play. I thought it couldn’t get worse, but it did. I thought the plot with Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius was interesting. Of course, you had to have Oberon and Puck’s plot, too, which I was also okay with. But I didn’t see the point of having the story about Theseus and Hippolyta, or Peter Quince and his fellow players. I thought that created a whole lot of confusion and unnecessary plot. Obviously the play would be cut in half without these other two interconnecting plots, but I would have preferred the play without them. I’ve actually seen Midsummer preformed live at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival two years ago and I liked it. It was a little confusing since I hadn’t read it, but it’s a lot easier to understand and follow along when watching it on a stage. If I hadn’t seen it preformed, or read a plot summary before reading it, I would have been lost.
Once again, I think Shakespeare has way too many characters. Also, why the heck does he give them such similar names? Hermia and Helena? I know this is a lot better than Gremio and Grumio from Taming of the Shrew, but still, with so many characters and plots, I’d like there to be drastically different names to help me out a little. When I saw the play preformed in Stratford, they gender-swapped all the characters. It was weird — the guys were girls, and vice versa. It was pretty confusing, especially having not read the play at that time. However, I thought it added another level of humor to the play. Nevertheless, I think I prefer it with the original genders…
Again, as I say with all my reviews of Shakespeare, I prefer to watch his plays than read them. I had to read a summary of the play to even begin to understand this play. Watching it preformed helped a great deal, too.
Not my favorite play, but still a good read. I actually think I like Taming of the Shrew more than this — too many plots going on in this play for my liking.