3/24-25 – Overview & Act I MSND

If you chose not to contribute in today’s discussion (5th hour), you are welcome to comment on this post within 24 hours of our class meeting to earn credit for contributing in a meaningful way.

Today we’ll have an overview of Act I and also get started reading it. 3rd period voted to read as a whole class. 5th period voted to read in small groups. All fine with me.

Act I needs to be finished by mid-class Friday, so we have our work cut out for us.

Then we’ll need to talk about Act I. For your lab book, I’m going to assign you one of these topics, based on the first letter of your last name:

  • Last name starts with A-B: Write about the role of the moon in the opening speeches of Theseus and Hippolyta
  • Last name starts with C-G: The various definitions of love (Theseus to Hippolyta, Theseus to Hermia, Lysander/Hermia (based on their duet), Helena (In her monologue “How happy some o’er others…”)
  • Last name starts with H-J: The job of “directing” either literally (Peter Quince) or metaphorically (Theseus, Egeus, Lysander, Helena…). Who does it well, who does it badly, does anyone actually have any power to direct the lives of others? How effective are they at doing it?
  • Last name starts with K-Mom: Compare/contrast the two duets (Lysander/Hermia vs. Hermia/Helena)
  • Last name starts with Mon-Pro: Helena’s monologue “Call you me fair?…”-break it down!
  • Last name starts with Pu-Sin: Track the night/moon/dreams motif in I.i and theorize about what it might be symbolizing.
  • Last name starts with Ste-U: Track the role of eyes/seeing in I.i and theorize about what it might be symbolizing
  • Last name starts with V-Z: The characterization of Bottom and Quince in I.ii — do some compare contrast. Why put these two characters together? What’s Shakespeare trying to say?



8 thoughts on “3/24-25 – Overview & Act I MSND

  1. The major difference between the two duets is the perspective they have on love. Lysander and Hermia’s problem is not also that it is forbidden by her father, but also that love is short and struck down by many uncontrollable forces, such as death, age, differences of social statuses, and more. Lysander tells Hermia that true love never runs its full course. Whereas Helena explains to Hermia that her problem is the indifference of Demetrius and how the more she loves him the more he hates her. Helena sees love as being blind and childish, which is very different than Hermia’s love that is very much in the moment. Lysander and Hermia’s love is mutual, but causes problems because of her father’s wish for her to marry another. On a different prompt, the main images in this section are the moon and the night. I think the moon is used because even though the moon rises every night, it is constantly changing in its cycle, much like love in this play thanks to Puck and the other fairies.

  2. Peter Quince and Nick Bottom were both trying to direct/control the play, they were stubborn and wanted things to be done their way. Peter, however, seemed to be more grounded and reasonable than Nick Bottom, who just wanted everything to be about him. I think that Nick Bottom overestimates himself and tries to do things that are out of his abilities. Peter keeps Nick from doing things he is incapable of doing and they balance each other out in a sense.

  3. In Act I, the use of night is used to hide something. The artisans are planning to cover up their rehearsal at night, in the dark. At night and I’m the dark you can out be seen. Hermeia and Lysander want to run away in the cover of night. The live that they have is no longer permitted so night is used to cover their secret.

  4. I think that the use of the moon in both Theseus and Hippolyta’ s speeches is a symbol of time. In Theseus speech he talks about how long he has to wait for their wedding night and how it “lingers”. in Hippolyta’s speech he says that it will pass quickly when they dream, and before they know it, it will behold their wedding night.

  5. In Act 1, Scene 1 the use of eyes in symbolism isn’t used until Helena is introduced. I think the eyes are definitely a hint to how the Faeries love charms work. They place the love charm in the eye of the person, and whomever they first lay eyes upon is who they fall in love with. Having Helena insinuate this not only makes King Oberon’s reaction logical, but it helps connect the Faeries into the entire story. Later, during Helena’s monologue, She tell’s us cupid is blind and reckless, and that lasting love sees not with the eyes but with the mind. Making the eyes mean a more superficial love. A love of a person’s beauty. Where as her love of Demetrius, one of the mind, of his personal qualities, is more potentate and true.

  6. Like some others were saying in class, I think that eyes and seeing seems to symbolize how love and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think it also reminds the audience of the difference between appearance and reality. Love is blind. We see this a couple times. When Helena is talking about Cupid being blind which causes him to make reckless decisions. Also, when Demetrius changes his mind and loves Hermia instead of Helena. Another obvious place where this is shown is when some are made to love someone like when Titania loves Nick bottom after he is turned into a donkey. One quote says,”You must see it as your father sees it” which really embodies how you must step into someone else’s shoes to see how they think and understand their perspective.

  7. Regarding the duos of Hermia/Lysander and Hermia/Helena: I think one thing that the two duos share in common is that both are relationships that are very much based on the emotions of single people. Lysander basically thinks he is some sort of love-hero, and Helena is very self-conscious, and Hermia is stuck in the middle listening to them both. However, she does love Lysander, and I imagine she is just sort of tired by Helena. Both Lysander and Helena sort of think that they have to compete (with demetrius and hermia, respectively) but they are both so obsessed with their own selves, and both of their attitudes are somewhat contradictory to Hermia’s in the moment take on life.

  8. Hnmmmnnn, since I was absent and we had a weekend in between, I hope this isn’t considered late. I didn’t know there was a discussion, in my defense!!
    Alright. Yeah. So. Helena’s speech-thingy!
    Basically, Helena’s saying that she’s not beautiful because Demetrius fancies Hermia. Then she goes on to compliment her.
    Then she says that sickness is contagious, and she wishes beauty were the same. If she owned the whole world, she’d give away everything but Demetrius to be Hermia.
    Uh. She really likes him. The use of sickness to describe beauty is interesting, because in those days, pretty much every disease was fatal, so…. Yeah, she REALLY likes him.

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