Midsummer Night's Dream Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1627 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology

¶ … Midsummer Night's Dream

The Stuff that Dreams are Made of:" "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" and "Thirteen Going on Thirty"

Both Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" and the director Gary Winick's 2004 film "Thirteen Going on Thirty" might be classified as romantic comedies, despite the fact that one was authored during the 17th century, and the other during the 21st century. "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" dramatizes the various narrative complications that ensue when a group of humans in a romantic triangle accidentally finds their way into the path of a group of fairies in a similar war of the sexes. However, in its own fashion, "Thirteen Going on Thirty" likewise uses the supernatural as a means of escapism that teachers the viewer. Fantasy and what takes the viewer out of the realms of the natural does not mean that the lessons that are learned are inapplicable to the world outside of the story's frame. Instead, the intervention of the supernatural in the form of fairy dust is used as a kind of heightened, metaphorical realism.

Midsummer Night's Dream" begins with the decision of Lysander and Hermia to flee Athens, to avoid Hermia being compelled by her elderly father to wed Demetrius. Demetrius once paid court to Hermia's old school friend Helena, and Helena still dearly adores Demetrius. However, Lysander's affections have been swayed to Hermia, and unfortunately for Hermia and Lysander, Hermia's father Egeus believes that Demetrius is a better match, although Lysander insists that his fortunes are the same (and just as Helena insists she is equally as attractive as Hermia).

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This implies at the beginning that even though the viewer is in the 'real' or conventional world, there are certain things that are amiss in the natural order. Egeus implies that Lysander has been doing wrong: "This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child;" he says to King Theseus (I.1). However, the change that has really occurred is that Demetrius has forsaken poor Helena. Now, rather than a neat quartet of betrothed, instead there are two men in love with the same women.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Midsummer Night's Dream Assignment

Helena tells Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander have eloped, in hopes of winning his love and allegiance. But rather than being grateful, Demetrius spurns her, and the more she loves him, the more he spurns her. The lovers in the woods find themselves in the midst of fairyland, showing that Egeus suspicions were wrong -- although there are indeed fairies like Robin Goodfellow, these fairies have not charmed Lysander to love Hermia. Rather, the quarrel upsetting the universe is between Titania and Oberon, the fairy queen and king, over a young boy, the child of one of Titania's attendants. Oberon wants the boy for his own coterie, Titania refuses the fairy king. To assert his masculine authority, he causes her through witchcraft to fall in love with an oafish human, Bottom, made to see even more absurd with an ass' head on his shoulders.

Trying to be compassionate, Oberon tries to engineer Demetrius to fall in love with Helena, because Helena's passion moves even the caustic fairy king. But accidentally, his attendant Puck confuses the two mortal men, anoints the eyes of Lysander, before he anoints the correct eyes of Demetrius, and now once again there is a triangle -- Demetrius and Lysander now love Helena. There is a metaphorical implication in this -- that love is not nearly as absolute in its nature as the young people believe.

Shakespeare deliberately gives the human lovers similar names and personalities, to show how interchangeable the nature of love may be, and although Lysander is made to fall in love with Helena during the play through magic, once upon a time he 'really' loved her, if there is such a thing as real love at all. His love for Helena now undoes the previous complications, but the intervention of the supernatural questions the authenticity of love in general. If human affections can be so passionately swayed by a sprinkling of dust, and if even the fairy queen herself can be so easily manipulated, does this bode ill for our own sense of security in the arms of a loved one? In real life, it sometimes seems as if our loved ones take us by surprise by the variations in their affections, and our own emotions are extremely volatile as if we were bewitched.

As Lysander presciently says:

Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,

Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,

And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,

Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,

Upon this spotted and inconstant man (I.1).

Just as suddenly as if he was bewitched, Demetrius switched his affections, even before Puck's intervention in the play. Although the conventional interpretation of the play is that Puck's magic is 'reversed' at the end in reality it is not -- although Lysander is charmed once again to love Hermia, the charm upon Demetrius' eyes is not removed. Thus the question arises if Demetrius is 'bewitched' by the end of the play even when he marries Helena, or if the machinations of the fairies have made things 'come out right' in the end. The supernatural and fantasy do not merely cause the lovers to escape their world, they highlight the unstable nature of things that human beings take as givens, namely the individuated nature of one's true love, and the fact that true love is inherently pure and untouched.

Of course, at the end of the play, things are more orderly. Now the two men and women are friends again and no longer in conflict. But even though the supernatural intervention improves mortal life, it also suggests that the underpinnings of our world are potentially false. When the pair of lovers awake, the uncertainty of the truth of their affection, even now that they have been returned to Athens, is now questioned by the lovers themselves:


So methinks:

And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,

Mine own, and not mine own.


Are you sure

That we are awake? It seems to me

That yet we sleep, we dream... (IV.1)

Demetrius is still dreaming, of course -- and in a way, Helena is too, in her zealous love and belief in love for a man whose passion has been consistently inconsistent, both before and during the action of the play. Furthermore, the fairies bless the beds of the nuptial couples, indicating that the affects of fairyland still hover over the lovers, even in real life (Greenblatt 1990, p. 13)

Similarly, the antics of the heroine of "Thirteen Going on Thirty" likewise highlight how immature we as a species still are about love and friendship, no matter how old our bodies grow. The conceit of the film is that an insecure junior high school girl who attempts to 'suck up' to the popular girls in her school, spurns her awkward best friend Matt, is sprinkled with fairy dust and magically becomes herself at thirty. However, now she is still the same awkward, self-conscious 'tween' inside that she was at thirteen -- a 'fantastic' truth that actually holds some seeds of reality.

The thirty-year-old Jenna has been living a false, superficial life as a high-powered editor of a woman's fashion magazine because she is still tormented by the demons of being a geeky, rejected young girl. The people on the magazine are just as catty and back-biting as adolescents, again suggesting that the difference between the two ages is not nearly as great as one might believe. The older Jenna has made many changes on the outside of her life, in terms of her appearance and her beautiful apartment and office, but these external changes do not bring internal happiness. The idea that by falling in with the right people is tempting to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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