Ms. Quinson's 2011-2012 9H Blog

a place for students to express themselves

Essay due!


Dear Students,

Your Shakespeare critical lens essay will be due in class on Thursday.  Please print it out, double-spaced.

I’ve missed you all!


The origin of love never lies in reason.


In A Midsummer Night’s Dream the origin of love never lies in reason. Love may be consistent with reason—e.g., Lysander is undeniably “a wor­thy gentleman”—and a healthy imagination, although influenced by love, will not glaringly rebel against reason. But as Hermia initially indicates, her choice is dictated not by her judgment but by her “eyes,” by the vision of Lysander as her love-dictated imagination reports it. As Helena says at the close of this same introductory scene, love sees with that part of the mind that has no taste of judgment. Essentially this is as true for Hermia as for the others, although her choice conflicts with parental authority rather than with sound evaluation of her beloved’s merits.

Dent, R. W. “Imagination in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”Shakespeare 400. Ed. James G. McManaway.New York: Holt, 1964.

  • Summarize the above extract.
  • Explain what you think is the author’s most important point.
  • Explain why you do or do not agree with the author.
  • Be sure to include lots of specific details from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (and perhaps Romeo and Juliet) to support your ideas.

As always, be sure to comment on at least one other response in this thread.


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


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.

If we shadows have offended….


If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

First, paraphrase Puck’s final speech. Second, analyze: So!  Now! Who is really dreaming? What is Shakespeare saying about theater, reality, magic, dreaming….  Make sure you include many text-based details and that you respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

I have had a most rare vision.


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

Lie further off…


Shakespeare did not leave us explicit stage directions with his plays, but obviously, they are scripts to be performed, not merely academic texts to be read. Think carefully not only about the words spoken in Act II, scene ii of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but also about the staging thereof. Write a response describing movements or stage directions you think would be appropriate for this scene. Make sure you comment on at least one other classmate’s response in this thread as well.

Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.


Describe Oberon and Titania both physically and psychologically. What are they fighting about? Do they remind of any other people or characters you have met either in real life or in books?

As always, make sure you comment on at least one other classmate’s response in this thread as well.

Four happy days bring in another moon…


Act I of A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in the daytime, but it contains many images of the moon that foreshadow the night to come. Identify the examples of moon imagery in Act I. Then in a paragraph or two, analyze and explain the moods that the images suggest.  How is this similar to any references you may recall from Romeo and Juliet?

As always, don’t forget to comment on at least one other response in this thread.


How happy some o’er other some can be!


How happy some o’er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know:
And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities:
Things base and vile, folding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity:
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.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight:
Then to the wood will he to-morrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.

Paraphrase Helena’s soliloquy above.  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 inRomeo and Juliet.

As always, don’t forget to comment on at least one other response in this thread.

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