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Posts Tagged ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’

This week I managed to finish something – hurrah!

Book 39 – A Midsummer’s Night Dream, by William Shakespeare.  I chose this for a few reasons: I had it to hand, I’ve never read it, it seemed like a good idea at the time, I love watching it performed…  Some reasons are more reasonable than others!

Before I start, I’ll remind you that I read Doctor Faustus a little while ago and rather liked it; I found it a relief not to have to fight through the rhyme scheme of a Shakespeare.  So when I say I found some of Midsummer’s Night a little overwrought you’ll know I came with a viewpoint already formed!

The joy of Shakespeare is the way the words come alive when spoken, especially when spoken by a great actor in a great location; that is what I experienced when I went to see Midsummer’s Night performed at The Globe.  For me, reading it off the page doesn’t give the play the spark of magic that brings it all to life.

I enjoyed the lightness of the comedy, the speed in which the characters are sketched out and subsequently filled in through both their own speeches and those around them.  I enjoyed the sense of the ridiculous.  Although the rhyming couplets aren’t my favourite thing there were some lines that were clever and energising, and whenever you read Shakespeare you can understand why so many terms have become common parlance – they are apt and attractive.

What was less appealing were some of the characters themselves – Oberon, as King of the Fairies, is like other Shakespeare characters (eg King Lear) in thinking the world should turn on his command; I find this irritating as a reader and my lack of sympathies with Oberon and Puck do affect my responses to them.  I also find the Athenian women a little shrewish and unattractive.

Shakespeare is proof positive that there is no such thing as an original story too: within the play is another play, which ends in a very similar manner to Romeo and Juliet!

Despite Shakespeare being widely studied in literature courses, my personal view is that he didn’t write to be read but to be seen.  His plays work beautifully on stage and with actors reading lines with accent and inflection, the whole sense of a scene can change.  I am glad I read this, as it was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – but next time I have a yearning for Shakespeare I’ll find a play to watch, and experience it as he designed.

Happy reading

EJ

🙂

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