4/4-6 Midsummer Act IV and V

Monday–will be a writing day as usual.

Those of you writing about the Norman  Morrison poem with “tongues of flame” in it, here are some of my thoughts:

  1. I know “tongue” can also mean “language.” So maybe the poet is saying Morrison spoke in the language of fire. That’s literally true–he used fire instead of words. But it’s also metaphorically true, since fire could = passionate action. He is “speaking” in the language of passionate actions.
  2. Also, “tongues of flame” fell on the followers of Jesus in a major biblical story where the holy spirit was given to all people, not just the Jews. Maybe the poet is suggesting that Morrison wanted justice for all people (even/especially the Vietnamese) not just those who live comfortably in the US.
  3. Also, some christian sects speak in “tongues” considered an angelic dialect or way of praying to god. Is this sacrifice an act of prayer for Morrison? Is that why the writer describes the “cathedral emptied of its ritual” and the “slience of his mind” (Quakers pray in silence, fyi).

Tuesday –– we will finish our Act III discussion and move on to reading Acts IV & V.

Wednesday — we will finish Act V and do our lab book entries and discussion. For this lab book entry, we’re doing a reverse alphabet. Levi asked if you could have these early, so here they are!

  • Last name Pu-Z: The fourth act begins and ends with Bottom on stage. Why is this significant? What insight do we gain into him as a character? Why?
  • Last name Ho-Pro: Explain and analyze the character’s responses to the lovers waking up from the love potion. Think Theseus, Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Egeus. How are they similar to/different from the opening scene? Why?
  • Last name A-Hil: Shakespeare uses a number of different techniques to create humor in the play-within-a-play. Identify 1-2 examples of these different techniques and explain what makes them entertaining (ridiculous metaphors, excessive alliteration, breaking the ‘fourth wall,’ using the wrong word/name, overdone repetition). What is Shakespeare poking fun at through these techniques? Is it effective? Why or why not?



11 thoughts on “4/4-6 Midsummer Act IV and V

  1. An example of Shakespeare creating humor in the play is when he has Nick Bottom break the fourth wall in the play within a play to explain what’s going on in the play to the audience that is having trouble understanding it. I think that this is kind of humorous not only because it’s kind of ridiculous, Bottom just stopping the entire play and going to directly talk to the audience, and it’s also kind of funny because he’s breaking the 4th wall in the play within a play without actually breaking the 4th wall in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is kind of funny to think about.

  2. Like Rob said in class, Bottom being present in the beginning and end of Scene 4 is significant because it shows Bottom’s transformation. He started out ordering people around, and asking for what he wanted. He was very single minded and was only thinking about himself and how good he was. At the end of act 4 he was quite helpful and motivating the way he was talking to his fellow peers and cast. And that’s what they really were- his peers- and he finally acknowledged that. Maybe somehow his “dream” helped him to realize something that changed him for the better.

  3. In the play within a play, as Flute (As Thisbe) makes his monologue in which he discovers that his lover is dead, I noticed a parallel between this monologue and the monologue Juliet delvers after discovering Romeo to be dead. Both basically say: What’s this?! My lover is dead! Woe is me, what shall I do? I will stab myself, so I can be with my lover. And then they both stab themselves and die by their lovers. Accept, in AMSND, the monologue is much longer than in RAJ, with Thisbe often repeating phrases over and over and going into unnecessary detail, Juliet’s final lines are short and to the point. I’m reminded of a quote by Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (From Hamlet.) I think then, since Shakespeare has this philosophy, that he purposely made the monologue in the play within a play so unnecessarily long in order to show how easy it is to screw fiction up and how much worse RAJ would be if the mechanicals wrote it.

  4. When we were reading I had never thought of Shakespeare poking fun at himself! It makes sense though because of all the mirror work he uses throughout the play. One of the tools I thought about when he was making the play inside the play was the wrong words and breaking the fourth wall. The wrong words and pauses really made it clear that Shakespeare was making fun of something and the mirror scenes and characters made it seem to be himself. The breaking of the fourth wall was entertaining to the audience and made the mechanicals also appear to be more foolish and make fun of them more. The mechanicals are also the working class so Shakespeare was poking fun at them too.

  5. In the play within a play, the Nick Bottom breaks the fourth wall because he believes his audience might not be able to understand the simple play. This belief that Nick has seems to reflect the the love potion. The love potion distorts the view of the users and so does the position of the spot light to the mechanicals. The mechanicals, “Which never labour’d in their minds till now,” hold the belief that their play is wonderful and brilliant while to all others the play is a failure. Shakespeare seems to be poking fun at all people because of the prideful nature that leads people to believe they are better than others at anything.

  6. In class we talked about how the play within the play had mirrors with the play itself, but I think it also has some opposites. Pyramus and Thisbe’s story ends tragically, like Romeo and Juliet, which contrasts the actual play which ends happily. I think it it is strange that Shakespeare uses a tragedy about love within a comedy about love. When the play began, I expected it to be a tragedy because of Hermia’s disobedience towards her father and her will to run away with Demetrius. It wasn’t until Bottom was introduced that the play clearly became a comedy, which really speaks for how well he works as comedic relief. The classes of the characters in the tragedy contrast that of those in the broader play. Even their names, such as Snout, Snug, Bottom, etc. makes them sound inferior to the elegant names like Helena, Hermia, etc.

  7. Through the first four acts of the play, Bottom was an ass. He ordered all of the mechanicals around so his play would be exactly as he wanted it. His personality is further demonstrated when Puck turns him (literally) into an ass. Even then, Bottom is ordering Titania’s fairies around to do his will. When he is transformed back into his regular appearance, his attitude has changed as well. He actually starts to care about his fellow mechanicals and tries to help everyone present themselves well in front of the duke. I think this illustrates the point of needing a little fantasy to “gain” or “understand” reality like the lovers, Egeus and Theseus did. Something fake had to happen to understand or see something real.

  8. I think Shakespeare nailed the humor with the play within a play technique. I found it especially humorous when Bottom “broke the fourth wall” by stopping the play to explain to their audience on what exactly was going on. I think that this was useful in relieving the tension and tradegy of the real play with the love potion and confusion between the lovers. And maybe Shakespeare may be trying to tell us that love can just as well be humorous as it is tragic.

  9. Bottom is in the beginning and end of this act because he thinks he’s the most important one in the play within a play, but really is terrible at acting, like how he got played by Oberon, literally turned into an ass and doesn’t even remember it. He’s oblivious to what’s going on in both plays. In the play within a play, Bottom breaks the fourth wall to explain obvious things to the audience, and doesn’t realize how obvious they are, which is what makes the play within a play humorous. Shakespeare is making fun of plays / the way people write plays, saying that they’re really redundant, repetitive, say and explain things unnecessarily, and expect the audience to be way dumber than they really are. In the play within a play they use a lot of oxymorons, which could show how in the play that contains a play in it (the real play) the lovers get mixed up, confused, like how an oxymoron puts two opposite words next to each other.

  10. In class we kind of talked about how Bottom and Puck both move in and out of different scenes, messing with the plot, and adding a comedic relief to the play. I want to add that I think they are bothe equally significant because they have the same role. The main difference is that Puck is a fairy and Bottom is human.

  11. I think that Shakespeare uses the fourth wall really well to create humor. This is due to the fact that the characters are already very unintelligent and clumsy so you can’t take them seriously. So when they look at you or converse with you, you can’t help but laugh. I also think the the the play (Midsummer’s NIght Dream) in general is a very funny play, Shakepseare alreadt has people laughing at the love chaos and to top it off pokes fun at himself in the play within a play.

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