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The lunatic, the lover and the poet/ are of imagination all compact.

January19

Theseus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, scene i:

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.

Brown, John Russell. Shakespeare and His Comedies.London:Methuen, 1957.

If one wished to describe the judgment which informs A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one might do so very simply: the play suggests that lovers, like lunatics, poets, and actors, have their own “truth” which is established as they see the beauty of their beloved, and that they are confident in this truth for, although it seems the “silliest stuff” to an outsider, to them it is quite reasonable; it also suggests that lovers, like actors, need, and sometimes ask for, our belief, and that this belief can only be given if we have the generosity and imagination to think “no worse of them than they of themselves.”

Analyze Theseus’ speech above from the beginning of Act V and the excerpt from John Russell Brown, Shakespeare and his Comedies also above.    Explain what you think Shakespeare is really trying to teach the audience member or reader in this speech.  Remember, Shakespeare is the ultimate poet, so when he writes about what poets are like, we want to pay careful attention!  Consider also, Puck’s final speech and what this has to contribute to Brown’s ideas.

As always, don’t forget to respond to at least one other classmate’s response in this thread.

57 Comments to

“The lunatic, the lover and the poet/ are of imagination all compact.”

  1. January 19th, 2012 at 5:51 pm      Reply Jesse Says:

    In both Teseus’s speech and Brown’s exerpt It is mentioned that Lovers, lunatics, Poets and actors are all alike in the sense that they all have fantastic imaginations. The Lovers don’t see reason and only see what they want to see, The lunatics see all the bad things in life. The actors pretend there someone or something else and Poets create new and exciting ideas. All of these people are totally different except this one quality. Brown also talks about how actors ask the audience to beleve that they are the character.


  2. January 19th, 2012 at 6:05 pm      Reply Autumn Says:

    In Theseus’s speech from Act V, scene i, he is talking about how lovers, madmen, lunatics, and poets have a larger toleration and acceptance of things most people believe to be imaginary. At the beginning, Theseus says that lovers and madmen have exciting minds, they are open to imaginative fantasies and can comprehend them more the reasoning and realism every will. Theseus says that because lovers and madmen are able to accept so many things that seem to be impossible, they can understand and be open to different possibilities whereas other people cannot think outside of what they know. Theseus goes on to tell what each of these people sees: the madman sees devils, the lover sees beauty in everything, and the poet can see the heavens and reality and can bring them together to form an entirely new creation on paper.
    The poet part interests me most because Shakespeare himself was a poet and he took pieces of reality and fantasy and combined them to make different plays. In Midsummer’s Night Dream, he takes real human life and how love plays a large role in human life and then he took fairies, an imaginary form of life and gave us a story of how it all comes together.

    John Russell Brown assesses a recurring theme in Midsummer’s Night Dream, and that is the strange thinking of the lover, lunatic, madman, and poet. They see false images and believe them to be true. Like the lover can only see beauty in the one that they love even if they were the ugliest person (I don’t just mean in looks but also personality). There is no doubt in this person’s mind that this person is perfect and they want everyone else to believe it to be true, also. Sometimes we have to take that leap of faith and stretch our on limited imaginations to believe with them.

    In Puck’s final speech, he speaks to the audience and tells them that everything that they just watched was just a dream. If you were watching the play, you would then be forced to make a decision. Was Puck right? Was it just a dream, are fairies nothing more than a dream? The majority of people would obviously shoot down the possibility of fairies existing immediately but there could be a few people who may believe that it is possible for fairies to exist.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 6:15 pm      Reply lucyl2 Says:

      I like what you said in your second paragraph. :) Very poetic.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 7:09 pm      Reply shianak3 Says:

      i like your final paragraph and I don’t think fairies are real beyond a dream. I think Shakespeare thought that also because he only mentions the fairies in dreams. Ex. In a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Queen Mab who just appears in Mercutio’s dreams. It just appears real but it isn’t.


  3. January 19th, 2012 at 6:12 pm      Reply michaelt10 Says:

    Theseus’s speech compares the point of views of madman, lovers, and poets. They all have huge imaginations. The madman, of course is mad. He sees terror and fear in everything. The lovers see the beauty in everything, and can also bring the beauty out in anyone. They look past the bad things, and twist everything to look good. Brown says that in this way they are like actors, trying to get you to believe in the beauty. The poet tries to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and can combine and intertwine the two. In Browns review, he notes how each of these three people think that they are right, and consider others beliefs “silliest stuff” to them. The whole dream/fantasy/reality questioning thing got me really confused.


  4. January 19th, 2012 at 6:12 pm      Reply lucyl2 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech, he explains how people like lunatics see all that is flawed in the world. The lovers are the people who will always see beauty; even when all that’s around them in ugliness. The poet is much different. The poet takes the things that he/she creates in their imagination and through writing, shares them with the world.

    I think that when Shakespeare is talking about the poet, he is writing about himself. Shakespeare’s poetry is beautiful and iconic, so when he talks about what being a poet is like you know how true it is. In his review, John Russel Brown talks about how each different person will see the world through different eyes, and each person believes that their view of the world is the correct way to view it.

    I tie Pucks speech into this because when he tells the audience how the whole show is a dream, each person must decide for themselves whether or not to believe that. Each person in that audience may make a different decision from the person next to them, because each person believes in different things.


  5. January 19th, 2012 at 6:28 pm      Reply coryannm2 Says:

    In Theseus’s speech he speaks of imagination, fantasies and creativity. He tells us that the minds of madmen, lovers and poets are alike; they are minds of compact creativity and imagination. They see past the ordinary and see the extraordinary. Madmen see demons and monster; lovers miss all flaws and only see beauty, but poets, they see all. Poets see both reality and fantasy; they give substance to myth and legend, they give life to the fairies that dwell within the forest. While an ordinary person may see things such as fairies, as complete ludicrous.

    In John Russell Brown’s excerpt he says that Midsummer Night’s Dream tells people that lovers, lunatics, poets and actors see the world differently. They believe in how they perceive the world to be correct, while to another it may seem ridiculous.

    It seems that Shakespeare is telling the audience that every individual perceives things differently. Lovers, madmen and poets are all filled to the brim with imagination and see things differently than the rest of the world. Lovers and madmen see parts of a whole; one sees only beauty, one sees only filth and the ugly. While poets see the entire spectrum, and in order to perceive the world fully you need imagination and creativity. Never be one sided and always be open to all idea and then you shall perceive the world to its fullest.


  6. January 19th, 2012 at 6:37 pm      Reply alwynp2 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech, he is telling that the lunatic sees all the bad things in the world. Like we said in class, the lovers see all the beauty, no matter how ugly something is. The poet takes everything he imagines and uses a pen to write it down paper. Then he shows it to everyone. All of them believe that they are right. It seems to me that the poet is almost like a mediator between reality and fantasy.


  7. January 19th, 2012 at 6:49 pm      Reply alwynp2 Says:

    Sorry! The entry got cut off in Microsoft Word.

    In Theseus’ speech, he is telling that the lunatic sees all the bad things in the world. Like we said in class, the lovers see all the beauty, no matter how ugly something is. The poet takes everything he imagines and uses a pen to write it down paper. Then he shows it to everyone. All of them believe that they are right. It seems to me that the poet is almost like a mediator between reality and fantasy. It is kind of like three people in a team. The lunatic can see ONLY bad. The lover can see ONLY good. But the poet kind of brings the two different varieties of people together. They are incomplete without each other. I think Michael said this in his post, but the speech by Puck about the entire play being a dream or reality question was a little confusing for me.


  8. January 19th, 2012 at 6:53 pm      Reply bridgetd1 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech he says that lunatics, lovers, and poets see the world differently. A lunatic sees fear, horror, and flaws in the world. The lover sees beauty in everything, even when there is only ugliness around them. Poets can see both fantasy and reality and can bring them together to create some entirely new on paper. Lunatics, lovers, and poets can all see pass reality and accept the impossible. Brown says that these people are like actors. They are trying to get you to believe in what is happening. The lunatics, poets, lovers, and actors all believe that they see the world correctly and that people need to look past what they think is true and be open to new possibilities.

    I think that Shakespeare is trying to tell the audience that everyone sees the world differently and that instead of ridiculing them, we should try to understand others’ visions. He believes that people need to expand their imaginations like lunatics, lovers, and poets in order to perceive the world entirely. Puck’s speech ties into this because when he tells the audience that the whole play was a dream, it leaves people confused. They are left to wonder if we are actually living life or merely dreaming it. But each person might make a different decision because we all see the world differently. :)


  9. January 19th, 2012 at 7:01 pm      Reply sharonm1 Says:

    In Theseus’s speech he stated that the lunatic, the lover and the poet see more than normal people do because they have a greater imagination. The lunatic sees more badness than is possible, the lover sees the beauty in even the ugliest person and the poet makes new creations by looking from heaven to earth.

    John Russell Brown’s excerpt he says that a theme in A Midsummer Nights dream is the thinking of the lunatic, the lover and the poet. Although to us it may seem like the silliest stuff, to them their thinking is perfectly reasonable. Lovers, like actors, need and sometimes ask for belief, we can only believe when we have the generosity and imagination to think like they do.

    Shakespeare is saying that everyone views the world differently. The lunatic, the lover and the poet see in the world than normal people because of their imagination. Instead of looking down on them we should try to extend our imagination and view the world as they do.


  10. January 19th, 2012 at 7:05 pm      Reply shianak3 Says:

    In Act V scene I Theseus says that lovers and psychos are alike in ways that they both have such large fantasies and imagination. They are both different in what they see but it is similar because it’s their large fantasies. Theseus also says that the poet makes everything out of nothing. He says that the poet writes and creates a whole different world which to us is like a fantasy we live in but wake up from like a dream.

    In his review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream John Russell Brown says that the lovers, fairies, and actors all have their own little fantasy and beliefs that is normal to them but may seem surreal to us. Brown also says that lovers need our belief and we can give it them if we amend the situation with our imagination.

    I think Shakespeare is ultimately trying to covey to us the idea of how the poets writing and the plays are supposed to take us to a different world, or into a fantasy. Hey are supposed to make us feel as if we are a part of the story like a dream. I also think Shakespeare is trying to question our surroundings and doubt our beliefs and the things we think are unreal.

    In Puck’s final speech he speaks to us the audience, breaking the fourth wall saying that this whole play was just a dream. I think Shakespeare is trying to say through this play is that the theater and poetry should make you feel like you are in a dream visioning it. I mean our dreams are often pretty crazy and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a bit absurd. Puck also says in his speech to the audience to consider this whole thing as a crazy play. This is similar to Brown’s critic because he says that sometimes actors want us to believe what they believe in which need some of our imagination.


  11. January 19th, 2012 at 7:07 pm      Reply anjuv1 Says:

    In Act V, scene I of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus talks about lovers, madmen, lunatics, and poets. He is saying how all of these people have very large imaginations. He goes on to say that each of these people could understand and conceive fantasies. They see things in a different light. Theseus then talks about how everyone of these people sees with their imaginations. The lovers only see beauty, even if there is ugliness around them, the madmen see evil, demons, and devils, and poets can see fantasy and reality. I think in this case Shakespeare is talking about himself and how he able to take both fantasy and reality and show it on paper.

    In the excerpt from John Russell Brown, he is saying about how in A Midsummer Night’s Dream the lovers, madmen, lunatics, and poets all view the world differently through their perspective. They believe that their way of seeing is the right way, while the other person is wrong and should view the world like they are.

    In Puck’s final speech, he tells the audience that they all fell asleep and they were all dreaming. This relates to both Theseus’ speech as well as John Russell Brown’s excerpt. It is because people can interpret things differently. They have their own say on what they think something means. All three of these readings show how people don’t always view things in the same way and how it might have a totally different meaning to others than to you.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 7:13 pm      Reply shianak3 Says:

      I like how you intrepreted all these three readings and your opinions. It’s different but interesting. :)


    • January 19th, 2012 at 9:41 pm      Reply nikital Says:

      I agree. Everyone interprets and relates something differently. Different things have different meanings to different people.


      • January 19th, 2012 at 11:20 pm      Reply nicholasm14 Says:

        Everyone has their own beliefs when it comes to certain things. We each have a different opinion, and that’s what makes us human beings.


  12. January 19th, 2012 at 7:07 pm      Reply kevinj3 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech, Shakespeare is trying to convey numerous ideas to the reader. Theseus states that the madman, lover and poet all have great and adventurous imaginative abilities. They all envision things in their own way, differing from anyone else. Shakespeare, being the ultimate poet, would know how a poet thinks. It seems like a poet is a great observer and takes all of his knowledge and observations to express in works creatively with paper and a pen.This is illustrated in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which seems almost on the verge of unreal until you realize that it is unreal, all happening in a dream. A madman looks at things negatively and sees the world in a way that is just for him to commit crimes with. The lover, contrasts from a madman by seeing the good in anything. Beauty becomes a fitting word for even ugly beings and beautiful beings become even more beautiful in a lover’s point of view. All three people have better than average imaginations and can see things that ordinary people cannot. Brown’s criticism ties to Puck’s final speech at the end of Act V because he states that we need to give actors the belief in them, which is what Puck asks for in his speech. He says that actors have great imaginations and that we have to give their ideas a chance. The entire play has been imagined in a dream so it seems fitting that the actors also have wondrous imaginations.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 11:01 pm      Reply leonl2 Says:

      Why does everyone describe the lovers as seeing good in everything and the lunatics as seeing bad in everything? What the lovers see may not necessarily be good. I think sticking to Brown’s description of frantic would be better.


  13. January 19th, 2012 at 7:27 pm      Reply carlya1 Says:

    In Act V, Theseus is saying that poets, lunatics, and lovers are all made up of the same thing-imagination. The only difference is that each ones sees something different. One sees the worst in everything, one sees the beauty in everything, and the last one can see reality and fantasy and can make the nothingness of fantasy into a reality on paper. Only people with the make up of imagination can comprehend this level of thinking with your imagination and not mind.

    John Russell Brown is saying that he agrees with Theseus’ speech but he thinks that lovers and actors share the same qualities as well. They both wish to convey a message that not many people can grasp. Lovers attempt to spread there feelings of love to those who may otherwise not comprehend it and actors try to twist fantasy and reality into something believable. Shakespeare challenged the actors who acted his plays to see things the way he saw them and to intertwine this to opposite thoughts into a believable, confusing message for the audience to deceipher.

    Theseus’ speech and John Russell Brown’s criticism connect to Puck’s last speech because they go along with his message-all of this was a dream. Puck tried to play the whole plot off as a dream but who can tell if it was or not. That was Shakespeare’s challenge. Only poets, him being the greatest of all time, can understand this concept of reality and fantasy being put together to make something so complex that it actually begins to make sense. When the average person tries to understand A Midsummer Night’s Dream, hey will never understand fully or having a completely positive solution to if it is fantasy or reality. It is that complex.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 9:29 pm      Reply briannab3 Says:

      I love your first paragraph!


    • January 19th, 2012 at 9:55 pm      Reply nicolea4 Says:

      I agree with Bri. You’re first paragraph is great and I think it’s exactly what Shakespeare was trying to explain. I agree with your idea that Shakespeare was able to write this play because he used his imagination instead of logic.


  14. January 19th, 2012 at 8:02 pm      Reply tylerf2 Says:

    In Act V, scene i, Theseus is stating that all lunatics, lovers and poets all have one major thing in common: imagination. He states how all three of these people can use their imagination to no limits, but each one uses it in a different way. See, the lunatic can see nothing but bad and negative images using his imagination, while the lover sees the good in everything that she thinks about and sees. Then there is the poet. The poet is basically the balance that keeps everything evenly intertwined. He takes both the images of good and bad and expresses them combined in a piece of his work. it reminds me of a ying-yang. The lunatic represents the bad side while the lover represents the good side. But, together, they balance each other out and create the poet who can take reality and fantasy, whether they be good or bad, and put them into beautiful words.

    What John Russell Brown says of Theseus’s speech is that he agrees with what Theseus is saying, but believes that lovers and actors share the same qualities as the people Theseus originally stated. He states that they both wish to get a message across that many people simply cannot understand. They try to get the message that lovers spread their feelings of love and joy to those who might not feel the same way and actors try to twist reality and fantasy to make it so that it is believable.

    Both Theseus’s and John Russell Brown”s speech compare to Puck’s final speech that ended A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the way that he tells the audience to go along with his message: all of this was a dream. None of this ever happened. It was the concept of your imagination playing tricks on you. It was a dream inside a dream (Incepton!!!!). He is basically questioning the human thought and concept of dreaming. He is questioning if we truly do know the difference between fantasy and reality.


  15. January 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm      Reply benjaminf Says:

    In Theseus’s speech he says how lovers, madmen, and poets all have wild imaginations and can all shape their own fantasies, and they can understand things that normal people with normal minds can’t. He then contrasts the imaginations of the three types of people and says that the madman can see more devils than hell can hold. He says that the lover sees Helen’s beauty in the brow of Egypt and the poet can look from heaven to earth to heaven and put what he sees into words on paper. Shakespeare wrote the most about had Theseus speak the most about poets in his speech because Shakespeare knows the most about poets because he is one so he could go into detail about what they feel.
    John Russell Brown in his literary analysis of A Midsummer Night’s Dream says that Shakespeare noticed the similarities between lovers, lunatics, poets and actors and that they see truth in the things they love. He also says that they can believe the craziest things that people that aren’t them wouldn’t be able to understand.
    In Puck’s final speech he tells the audience that what they have just seen on the stage has been a dream and they have all just been sleeping. What he says contributes to what Brown and Theseus say because Shakespeare knew that the audience might not be able to comprehend what happened in the play and Brown and Shakespeare explained that the reason for that would be that poets see the world differently and would believe the craziness they put into their plays and the audience might not, which is why Shakespeare clarified through Puck to the audience that the entire play was just a dream.


  16. January 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm      Reply amandaj3 Says:

    Theseus’s speech and Brown’s review are alike in many ways. In Theseus’s speech, he is basically saying that a lover or a poet is more imaginative than regular people. Their minds are so alike. Another person that is alike to the poet and lover is a lunatic. They all imagine so much. They tend to think a lot. A lover sees true beauty in something ugly, a poet creates his own world with a pen and paper, and the lunatic sees the bad in everything in the world. Each person basically creates and lives in their own fantasy.

    In John Russell Brown’s review of Midsummer Night’s Dream, he states that a madman, a lover, and a poet are a strange group to be compared to. But the unique group is kind of like actors. They try to get you to believe in what is happening. “the play suggests that lovers, like lunatics, poets, and actors, have their own ‘truth’” according to Mr. Brown. The lovers ask for our belief, just like actors do. Overall, I thought John Russell Brown’s Review was pretty good.

    In Puck’s final speech at the end of Act 5, Scene 1, he stated that the whole play was a dream and that the audience is just sleeping. He is speaking directly to the audience. This is very clever of Shakespeare. I think Shakespeare decided to include this scene because I think he wanted the ending to convey a message that basically states that sometimes reality might appear to be a dream.


  17. January 19th, 2012 at 8:11 pm      Reply johnk4 Says:

    Theseus says that people in love and lunatics have great imaginations. They can make sense of what other people cannot. The people mentioned above as well as the poets are imagination personified. They tend to make up stuff and they see things that people do not normally associate with. The poet is just a vessel to store the inspiration that God sends out. The poet is the one that writes them down and makes them available to the rest of the people. Mr. Brown says that poets, actors, lovers, and madmen have their own reality. They a4e able to make sense of their reality while other “normal people” cannot. The other people can only understand their reality they stop calling them freaks. I think he was encouraging people to see the play from his view in order for them to find the second truth to the plays. Also he was saying that he is imagination and just like a lunatic. He also says that poets can inspiration in the smallest things. Puck’s speech says that we will try to make amends for it was all a dream. The audience did not know how the play made sense until they heard this. The people in the play assumed it was a dream and that is how they made sense of this weird occurrence.


  18. January 19th, 2012 at 9:23 pm      Reply Ben E. Says:

    Theseus contrasts the Lunatic, the Lover, and of course Shakespeare himself, the poet. They all, in his opinion are crazy. They all see things in their own way. I thought though that his idea of the poet was the most interesting. “the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name,” Theseus states. He says the poet is not mad, he just carries the madness and using his writing makes it reality. Which is true. A fantasy world was fake until the author puts pen to paper. The author, if they care about their now real world, know anything about it. Shakespeare as I said before, is describing himself. He was the craziest poet of them all according to Theseus. Maybe madness is a good thing.

    John Russell Brown took the great literature that is Shakespeare and twisted it to his own devices. He starts to add actors into the speech saying that they are like lovers too. He also says that if we had imagination like them, we would understand them. We understand them now. We don’t understand their exact thoughts, but we do know what it’s like to be in love, or to write. Only the lunatic is the unreadable, but to them, we’re the lunatics.I think that the author wrote a nice summary up until the point where he added in words that Shakespeare never wrote.


  19. January 19th, 2012 at 9:38 pm      Reply nikital Says:

    In Theseus’s speech, he states (paraphrased):

    Lovers and madmen have such active brains, such creative fantasies, which conceive more than reason ever understands. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet’s minds are all composed purely of imagination. One, the madman, sees more horrible, frightening things than there really are out there. The other, the lover, just as insane, finds incredible beauty in everything, even ugliness. The poet, though, looks from earth to heaven, and as imagination hastily bodies forth, it is channeled through his pen. His pen then shapes something from nothing, and the poet gives it a name.

    All in all, Theseus claims that lovers, poets, and yes, even lunatics, can still believe and imagine fictional things like a child might. There, however, is an advantage to this, for they observe the world around them with a different eye than that of regular folk. It can help them think in more creative, out-of-the-box ways. This is what Brown speaks of: the fact that different people think differently. He puts it as that these three all are to be respected for their different ways, no matter how silly it might seem to others. Brown also reveals that many a time, poets, lovers, and lunatics ask, like the actors in Shakespeare’s plays, for our belief, and that this can only be given if we can think well enough of them and their beliefs. All in all, poets, lovers, and lunatics should be respected for their different way of thinking, In fact, “a different way of thinking” should be respected all on its own! After all, if we all thought the same way, we would all make the same choices, good or bad, through a narrow scope of vision.


  20. January 19th, 2012 at 9:49 pm      Reply briannab3 Says:

    Theseus is saying in his speech that 3 different types of people all have one thing in common:imaginations. They just use their imagination to see different things. Lover sees beauty in all he looks at. The madman sees crazy things and the poet, Shakespeare himself, sees things in the “airy nothingness” and captures them for all to see on a piece of paper. Imagination is key .

    John Brown added a twist onto Theseus’ speech. He said that actors fit in with the three imaginative people. Actors need to believe they can become the role. And the audience needs to believe that the actor is the character he is playing. They all have their own truth, and they are asking us to believe in them and their imagination because not many people can grasp that. I agree with Mr Brown.

    Puck’s speech is connected to Mr browns critique because he is asking us to take a leap of faith and believe that all that happened int the play really happened. If not, you can believe that it was all a dream. Maybe fairies really do exist and we only need to use our imagination to believe. The line between dreams and reality blur, because your imagination is hardest at work in your dreams. I think that maybe Shakespeare put what he imagined in the airy nothingness and made it a beautiful play.


  21. January 19th, 2012 at 9:51 pm      Reply nicolea4 Says:

    Theseus’s views and John Russel Brown’s views are similar. In Act V, Theseus recites a very interesting speech. He states that lovers, poets, and lunatics all have such imaginative minds. Theseus explains that the lunatic sees many evil things such as the devil, lovers see beauty in everything, and that poets can look from earth to heaven and back and are able to create entire worlds out of nothingness.

    John Russell Brown agrees with Theseus’s speech. His review supports points in Theseus’s speech about how the lover, lunatic, and poet see things differently than others. Mr. Brown also says that lovers and actors are similar. He states that lovers and actors both request people to suspend their disbelief and expand their limited imaginations.

    Theseus’s speech, John Russell Brown’s review, and Puck’s speech all support Shakespeare’s ideas about dreams. At the end of the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck’s final speech left the audience questioning the distinction between dreams and reality. I think that was Shakespeare’s goal. Shakespeare, the greatest poet, says that poets are more imaginative than the average person. That being the reason he was able to write this complex play, leaving the audience to wonder which parts were fantasy or real, or if the whole play was a dream.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 9:57 pm      Reply sarahb5 Says:

      I agree with you that both views were similar. I especially liked your last paragraph and how you said that since Shakespeare is the greatest poet ever, he is able to write such a complex play to leave us wondering whether it was all a dream or not.


  22. January 19th, 2012 at 9:54 pm      Reply sarahb5 Says:

    Theseus is saying that lovers and madmen and poets can come up with the most ridiculous things. Their imagination always seems to be running wild because it is almost like they are possessed by their obsessions. People that are so in love can’t see past what they are in love with and they think that it is the most beautiful thing in the world. Madmen are so caught up in their craziness that they can’t see anything good; all they see is devils and hell. And the poet is always writing, creating new things so much that he can’t remember what is real and what is imaginary.

    In Brown’s excerpt he is saying that all those types of people are always in their own little world. They believe in the silliest stuff and they want other people to believe what they believe sothey don’t feel as crazy as they actually are. As much as people want to agree with them to make them happy, they have to be a little bit crazy themselves to actually believe in what they are saying. That is probably why Puck tells everyone that they are dreaming, because he wants to be sympathetic and agree that everything they have been through and have been seeing is real but he just can’t and the easiest way to agree with them is to just tell the they are dreaming.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 10:53 pm      Reply leonl2 Says:

      I bet madman can see good in madness. I don’t know, I’m not mad.

      I think your thoughts on why Puck tells everyone they are dreaming is reasonable.


  23. January 19th, 2012 at 10:23 pm      Reply johnw2 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech he is saying that lovers, poets, and madmen are all made of pure imagination. He thinks that madmen see the worst side of imagination. Madmen constantly see demons and devils everywhere they go. Lovers see the pleasant side of every single situation no matter what it is; love makes them blind to reality. The poet however takes something out of thin air and makes it into a beautiful creation using the wonders of his imagination. This view of the poet’s ability is best compared to what he does to an empty page and what an artist does to an empty canvas. They both pour out their ideas and from a blank nothingness they are able to create something truly awesome. This is true creative power, to be able to take things you conjure up in your mind, and be able to present them on paper to another person and have them see your thought. In Brown’s review he in essence says that the way the characters are presented you can allow yourself to believe that they are real, and it would make the play a lot better. As to the dream versus reality, I feel that they are both realities, it is simply which one you choose to accept as your own. For example you could accept your awake state as reality; you could lead a life of simplicity that has a very methodical approach to everything. Or if you choose your dream state as reality and lead a life of abstractness that has no coincidence it simply is the work of greater beings. Both lives have their ups and downs; their rewards and their punishments. Either life can be chosen; it is purely up to you to decide which to choose.


    • January 19th, 2012 at 10:31 pm      Reply carak1 Says:

      I really like what you said about choosing your dream state as reality. It’s a very interesting idea to think about what life would be like if we dropped all preconceptions and lived without turning anything down.


  24. January 19th, 2012 at 10:29 pm      Reply carak1 Says:

    Theseus’ speech compares the lover, lunatic, poet, and the madmen. He says they are all made of imagination, yet they have their differences. The lover sees only beauty in everything, the lunatic sees things that do not actually exist. The madman sees devils and demons everywhere, but the poet takes something that is nothing more than airy nothingness, turns it into something very tangible, and puts it down on paper. Shakespeare is arguably the best and definitely the most famous poet of all time. Therefore, it’s very interesting that he would compare himself to madmen, lunatics, and lovers. I don’t know if he saw this, but I see a bit of each personality in his works. His tragedies could not have been created to be so realistically painful if he did have his own demons. All great artists are a bit insane. They do see things that others cannot see, and great authors often straddle the boundary of insanity. They have whole other worlds in their heads and they are sometimes very tied to that world in an almost crazy way. Finally, the lover. Shakespeare obviously spent a lot of time thinking about love. He created the most classic love story of ALL TIME. To not call Shakespeare a lover would be ludicrous. He saw beauty in many things, the moon to name just one. His similes and metaphors were full of the love of beauty.

    Brown thinks that Shakespeare is saying that lovers, lunatics, actors, and poets have their own truth and all they ask is that people believe what they believe. He thinks we have to use our imagination and generosity to think only as badly of them as they do of themselves.

    I think that Shakespeare speaks to the nature of art in this speech. He talks of these people as being otherworldly and separate from reality. I agree with that understanding of his intents. I think that truly amazing art, in any medium, will stir you, make you believe in something that doesn’t exist, and change the way you see the world. Even being an artist can change the way you see the world. When I have my camera with me, I see things through an artistic lens (pun intended!). When I listen to music, I sometimes feel like I could run around the world or do something impossible, because of the beauty of the art. I definitely believe what Shakespeare says about these people, that they see things that do not exist. I would call myself a lover. I find beauty in so many things. It’s easier for me to find good aspects of things than bad aspects. I think Shakespeare was spot on with these ideas. I like what he said about poets, and I don’t think it was conceited of himself to put poets on a pedestal. I think that what he said was true, that poets take that nothing quality of beauty and turn it into a definite something.


  25. January 19th, 2012 at 10:31 pm      Reply Anton Says:

    In his speech, Theseus is saying how lovers and madmen have more active brains than any normal person. They as well as poets have large imaginations. Madmen see evils, lovers see… love, and poets transfer what they see into something more understandable.The way the critic summarizes this is that madmen, poets and lovers have their own style, or ways of living. To us they seem weird. However, they ask us to accept them, as we must accept the role that actors are playing in our imagination. We need to support their beliefs. Puck contributes to this by saying to pardon them. Because poets are like madmen and lovers, who need acceptance, Puck is technically saying the audience needs to accept, and forgive them for the “madness” in Shakespeare’s mind, that he has let out to the audience. It seems that Shakespeare put in this to show us how poetry is imagination given meaning. In a way, poets are madmen. They imagine sometimes ridiculous things. The difference is, they don’t keep it to themselves, but find a way to express these thoughts. Shakespeare is not only calling himself a madmen, but he is also enforcing better treatment of this kind of people. Shakespeare is making fun of himself through his characters.


  26. January 19th, 2012 at 10:31 pm      Reply elizabethp4 Says:

    Lovers and madmen have such imaginative brains,
    Such real fantasies, that understand or take
    More than logic and reality could ever understand.
    The lunatic, the lover and the poet
    Are all made of imagination:
    One sees bad things, worse than even hell has,
    That is the madman: the lover, so excited,
    Sees great beauty in everything:
    The poet, taking everything in,
    Is inspired by everything that is here on earth and things that others can’t see,
    And as imagination comes forth
    It creates things unknown, the poet writes
    Imaginative, fake things, and gives to non-existent things
    A real shell.

    Theseus is saying that people who are lunatics, lovers, and madmen, tend to take imagination further than others. People like them have over-active imaginations, and tend to believe and act on their dreams rather than their realities. There are different kinds of imaginations, ones that make the world beautiful, one that makes the world horrid, and one that shares both with others who seem to lack a creative and powerful imagination. Poets could get a bit more carried away with it, while lovers are turned naive by what appears to be perfection in everything, while the madmen are going crazy from the monsters lurking in every shadow.

    John Russell Brown basically repeats what Theseus is saying, except making their enchanting imaginations seem like an inside club, with the outsiders attempting to peer in yet being brutally rejected. I completely agree with Brown’s critique of this portion of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I also just completely adore Theseus’ character – he’s surprisingly intelligent and witty for a warrior (Odysseus is the only other one).

    Lovers, lunatics and poets see the world in a different light than people who aren’t in their enlightened stage. Everything in their world isn’t quite straight, just twisted a bit to fit a brighter, more colorful, or more horrifying world to explore. Others who don’t have the capability to dream as big just see them as being ridiculous and childish, while imagination tends to not be part of only childhood. If a person possesses a great imagination, it’ll help them in life, and sustain them when they’re going through a rough patch, and give them hope that some sort of an angel will come down and help them. (To all, please note, I have a wild imagination. I’m half writing from my perspective here, so I’m biased.)


    • January 19th, 2012 at 10:41 pm      Reply leonl2 Says:

      Is there a difference between a madman and a lunatic? I would consider Hamlet to be a madman, but maybe not a lunatic.


      • January 19th, 2012 at 11:26 pm      Reply innag2 Says:

        I agree. I think of madmen more as almost genius’s who have a loose screw, which makes them that incredible but deadly. Lunatics are more… I don’t know, I guess violent? I see them as people who have violent outbursts, or just go completely crazy at times, like Mr. Rochester’s wife from Jane Eyre crazy.


  27. January 19th, 2012 at 10:36 pm      Reply leonl2 Says:

    Brown most likely wrote his comments based on Theseus’ lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because he talks about lovers, lunatics, and poets. Brown says that all three of these types of people contain some truth, which is odd to me because I cannot picture a lunatic having any truth in them. However, the concept does seem valid, because each one of these people have something to believe in themselves, which they think is the “truth”.

    I also agree with Brown’s thoughts that lovers (like in Shakespeare’s poem) need our belief. Without it, the audience would not be convinced that their love is real, and thus the story would appear very stupid. For example, if we were to continuously question the love of Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius, we would not enjoy the play as much as if we were to just accept and believe the lover’s love to be real.

    Theseus’ speech has relatively the same meaning. It says that our belief in the lovers is insubstantial, and may require the touch of the poet to make them real, in comparison to mere concepts.


  28. January 19th, 2012 at 10:38 pm      Reply anthonym9 Says:

    In Theseus’ speech, he is saying that criminals, lovers and poets all have one thing in common: imagination. He is saying poets get there ideas from looking across the earth, to heaven and the back to earth. Theseus states that poets have the power to turn a thought or idea into a reality that really exists.

    In Brown’s opinion, Shakespeare is saying that actors and play writers and lovers all have their own beliefs that they think to be true. They all have big imaginations and through a play are making it a reality and “becoming” the part. Brown is saying Shakespeare is comparing these beliefs to hydrogen and oxygen. He is saying that out of no where, when they combine it forms water. This means that hydrogen and oxygen are imagined beliefs and they turn into reality, or water.
    Brown is saying that poets make magic with just their pens.


  29. January 19th, 2012 at 10:44 pm      Reply ashleys2 Says:

    In Thesesus’s speech in the beginning of Act 5, Scene 1, he says that lovers and lunatics have the craziest imaginations, and that the poets of the world take the ideas from the lovers and lunatics and write them down, making them from nothing into substance. In this speech, Shakespeare is talking about himself when he talks about poets, as he is the ultimate poet. Basically he is saying that poets have lots of imagination that distorts their realities and that confuses their ideas of what is real and what is fantasy. This is also true for lovers and lunatics.

    In Brown’s excerpt, he is basically saying that once the actors get on stage, they ask for the audience to believe that they are actually their own part instead of an actor trying to portray it. For example, if an actress was playing Titania, they would hope that the audience sees them as Titania and not as an actress. Once the actors get the feeling that the audience believes their portrayals, they will become more confident in their role, because to the actors, it is important to gain the audience’s trust. Puck’s final speech relates to these ideas because he is breaking the fourth wall by telling the audience that if they the actors have not liked the show in any way, then the actors will do their best to make amends to it. This is an example of how important the audience’s opinion is to the actors, which was one of the main themes of Brown’s analysis of the play.


  30. January 19th, 2012 at 10:45 pm      Reply harrisond1 Says:

    Theseus made a speech explaining the minds of madmen, lunatics, lovers, and poets. He stated that madmen, lunatics, lovers, and poets all had imaginative minds and they didn’t have accept reason. The lunatics see bad things in life such as devils. Lovers see beautiful aspects in ugly things, and see the good in things. The lunatics and lovers think oppositely as they can only see either the good or bad things. The poets can see ideas from both reality and fantasy. They take ideas from nothing and creatively give form to poetry with pens onto paper. Shakespeare would know the thought processes of poetry, as he is the ultimate poet. Brown agreed with Theseus’ speech. He said that lunatics, madmen, lovers, and poets had imaginative minds, agreeing with Theseus. Brown enforced that these creative minds thought of their way as correct as opposed to what the “outsiders” would think. These individuals can think differently, which Shakespeare supports through Theseus’ speech.


  31. January 19th, 2012 at 10:58 pm      Reply amandaf2 Says:

    In Theseus’s speech he states that lovers, poets and lunatics all have amazing imaginations. He believes that they have more active brains than other people. They are able to make unreal things seem very realistic because they are creative. Poets are able to grasp an audience’s attention and make them feel like are entering another world when you read their plays. Lovers enter an unrealistic world, and sometimes become infatuated. They see their love like a fantasy. Madmen also have incredible imaginations. They come up with crazy ideas. He says that lovers, poets, and madmen also have a truth to them. They are able to leave the real world, and enter into an imaginitave world that they made up. John Russell Brown says that outsiders won’t understand them unless they use their imagination.


  32. January 19th, 2012 at 11:17 pm      Reply nicholasm14 Says:

    In Theseus’s speech at the beginning of Act V, he begins by talking about how lovers and madmen both have such vivid and creative minds/ imaginations that they conceive and accept things that would seem ridiculous and imaginary to most people. He meant that they can tolerate things that are beyond reasoning and that most people would dismiss as merely fantasy. He then basically says that lovers, lunatics, and poets are made up entirely of imagination. He goes on to describe what the people he mentioned see. The madman sees more devils than can be held in hell. The lover sees beauty in everything, even if it is ugly. The poet looks from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven and, using his/ her imagination, can use the things he/ she sees to turn nothing into a completely new creation on paper. Since Shakespeare is the ultimate poet, he understands the entire process of creating poetry and can give us an extremely vivid description of the process of creating it. Poets can take things from both reality and fantasy due to their imaginations and combine to create something wonderful. Shakespeare took humanity and one of the most important things that affects it, love, and combined it with the fantasy world of fairies in order to create A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    John Russell Brown talks about how in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the lovers, the lunatics, the poets, and even the actors each have their own view of the world. The things they see and believe are all different in comparison to each other, and each type of person believes only their particular view of things. They view the things they see as reasonable and true, while their views would be considered ridiculous by any other type of person. For example, the lovers would obviously view the person they loved as beautiful, even though the person may be ugly (in looks and personality) to everyone else. In order to believe them, we have to stretch our view of things and try to see what they see. This can be difficult to some people, but sometimes it needs to be done.

    Puck’s speech at the very end of the play can be compared to what John Russell Brown said because it leaves us with an interesting thing to ponder: was Puck telling the truth about the play being nothing but a dream? People will obviously takes different views on the matter because everyone has different beliefs. They will see their respective beliefs as true, while others may think their beliefs are ridiculous.


  33. January 19th, 2012 at 11:17 pm      Reply sabrinak1 Says:

    Theseus and Brown’s speeches were very similar. They both mentioned the concept that lovers, lunatics, actors, and poets all have similarly extreme imaginations. The lovers are so caught up in their dream world that they only see what the wish to see. The lunatics see all of the bad things that happen; their fantasies are a sick kind. The actors hide their imaginations by pretending to be someone they are not and ask the audience to pretend with them. The poets take their imaginations and bring it to life on paper, taking the fantastical ideas in their minds and writing them down. They aren’t all the same but they all do have wild creativity and ingeniousness that helps them be who they are.


  34. January 19th, 2012 at 11:24 pm      Reply innag2 Says:

    John Russell Brown is saying that for the audience, the main idea of the play revolves around lovers. In Theseus’ speech, he talks about how actors, poets, and madmen are all the same because they are all crazy in their own way, and how each one is crazy in different ways. John Russell Brown goes a step further and connects Theseus’ speech to lovers, too, and says how lovers are crazy because they see things that other people would call negative attributes as positive attributes, which makes them just as crazy as any lunatic or poet or actor. I think Shakespeare is trying to teach the audience member or reader a lot in this speech. I think he is trying to show that everyone on this entire planet can be called crazy if you see them that way, but really, they’re just as crazy as the person standing next to them. Also, Shakespeare mentions how poets take imaginary things from thin air and turn them into real things with their pen. This says a lot, as Shakespeare himself is the ULTIMATE poet, and we can learn A LOT from him. He is absolutely right with his statement, though. Poets, writers, authors, (only if they’re talented, anyway), they all take fantasy and make it reality, and can transport you into this world that they create just for the reader or the audience. They have that certain captivity that makes the reader want more and more and more, like J.K Rowling with the Harry Potter series. I love Shakespeare, and I think everything that he said is an amazing quote or sentence.


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