Tomorrow in class you will write a thematic essay on a topic of your own choosing about A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This evening, please prepare for this essay by thinking about the aspects of the play that you find the most intriguing. That way, you are more likely to find a topic that fuels you and about which you can contribute some real insight.
You may choose to prepare an outline this evening, so you can use the full period writing tomorrow, but please do not over prepare! This is meant to be a 45-minute flashdraft, not a complete finished product, and I will assess it accordingly. This essay will count as a quiz, not as a full test grade.
For any students who were absent in class, we read and commented about a number of literary critics in class today and I have shared that document on the handouts page of our website. You should certainly take a look at them before you choose your topic or plan your essay.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
Paraphrase Theseus’ speech at the beginning Act V, scene i.
Then, analyze it. Take your time. This is a complicated speech. Explain what you think Shakespeare is really trying to teach the audience member or reader in this speech.
As always, please follow the rules of standard written English, and don’t forget to respond to at least one other classmate’s response in this thread.
I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was–there is no man can tell what. Methought I was,–and methought I had,–but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.
Paraphrase and analyze the above from Bottom’s speech at the end of Act IV, scene i.
Are we meant to agree or to disagree with his statements? Why or why not? Explain what you think Shakespeare is really trying to teach the audience member or reader in this speech.
As always, be careful to follow the rules of standard written English, and don’t forget to respond to at least one other classmate’s response in this thread.
First you must read Act III, scene ii all the way through and then comment.
As we have done before, though, I am not providing a prompt for this blog. Rather, I would like you to create your own conversation here. You must write a comment either addressing a topic, line, or issue about this scene (or any previous scene) and respond with depthto at least one of your classmates’ blogs.
Let’s continue our class discussions on line and see where the conversation takes us.
I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:
Mine ear is much enamour’d of thy note;
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me
On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.
Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason
for that: and yet, to say the truth, reason and
love keep little company together now-a-days; the
more the pity that some honest neighbours will not
make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.
Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
(Act III, scene i, lines 139-150)
Read the passage above carefully and then analyze what Shakespeare is really trying to teach the audience member or reader here. You should consider the SOAPSTone (Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Tone) of Bottom’s comment, and you may want to consider last night’s blog as well.
As always, don’t forget to follow the rules of standard written English and respond to at least one other classmate’s response in this thread.
Tonight please reread Act II, scene ii of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and then paraphrase and analyze the following lines, which Lysander speaks to Helena. Consider not only what they mean literally but also what they might have to do with a theme of the play.
As always, please follow the rules of standard written English and respond to at least one other comment in this thread.
The will of man is by his reason sway’d;
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season
So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshal to my will
And leads me to your eyes, where I o’erlook
Love’s stories written in love’s richest book.
As you read Act I, scene ii (or afterwards), consider the following question: what’s funny about this scene?
The nature of comedy is very difficult to analyze and usually ends up making everything much less funny. A concept to keep in mind, though, is that comedy is usually based on character, language and situation. Which elements do you see in this short scene?
Please write a comment here where you describe how Shakespeare uses any of the three elements for comedic effect. As you do so, please use specific evidence from the text (actually quote it!) to support your claim and explain what effect this has on the reader or the audience.
As always please follow the rules of standard written English and respond to at least one other comment in this thread.
Tonight, please read Act I, scene i, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (pp. 7-23, rectos only!) Before you read, however, it would probably be a good idea to look at the summary on p. 6.
Once you have finished the reading, please paraphrase Helena’s soliloquy below. Then explain what this reveals about Helena and her experience with love? What can we all learn from this? Compare and/or contrast this to the lessons we learned about love in Romeo and Juliet.
As always, don’t forget to comment on at least one other response in this thread.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind:
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured every where:
For ere Demetrius look’d on Hermia’s eyne,
He hail’d down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
Tonight, please write a response to today’s class period by answering the question below. Please consider all the class discussion and analysis we’ve done regarding the play, the lithograph, and orchestral suite, to help you in your response. As always, please follow the rules of standard written English and respond to at least one other comment in this thread.
In Shakespeare’s play, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite, and Chagall’s painting of Romeo and Juliet, the author, the composer and the artist structure their work with intention. What aspects of Romeo and Juliet do Shakespeare, Prokofiev, and Chagall choose to emphasize and to leave absent? What effect do these choices create when you consider them in context of the events of the play?