Midsummer Madness

A Midsummer Night's Dream

I miss those times when I was still taking a Shakespeare subject, and one of the stories that I will never forget is Midsummer Night’s Dream.  You know, the one about the political nobles, middle class workers and laborers and supernatural beings unified in a unique and amusing comedy story.  Instead of the conventional love triangle, it becomes a love quadrangle for Lysander, Hermia, Helena and Demetrius!

 

One interesting fact about this play is that it incorporates three distinct plots embodied in three different worlds which tie up a unified theme or idea. The three worlds include (a) young lovers in the court of Theseus (b) world of Oberon and Titania and (c) the artisan’s world.  The comedy starts when they all meet in the woods where laws are totally suspended, and a character named Puck messes up with them.  A tangled love affair!

 

I will never forget when Lysander said ‘the course of true love never did run smooth…’ to Hermia, it is my favorite line in the play.

 

So why Midsummer Night’s Dream?  In his epilogue, Puck said that all mistakes he made during the course of time should be forgotten and should be thought as a dream.

 

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It’s Nothing Really

One of my favorite Shakespeare play is Much Ado about Nothing. It’s a lighthearted comedy about love and misidentification. It’s a double plot – the story is focused on the comedic game wit of Benedict and Beatrice and the love problems of Hero and Claudio.

The dominant themes of the play are love and misidentification. Love is shown between Beatrice and Benedict, Hero and Claudio, as well as in other minor characters such as Leonato and his love for her daughter and Beatrice and her sympathy to her cousin. Misidentification, on the other hand, is exemplified when Margaret is misidentified as Hero, which in turn made Claudio assume that Hero’s sweet nature is a false quality of her, thereby calling her ‘rotten orange’ and a disgrace. There is also misidentification on Don Pedro’s part, in which at the start of the play he believes that Don John has changed for good and that he deserves a second chance.

But on the lighter note, my favorite parts of the play are those parts in which Benedict and Beatrice are in their witty conversations, and take note on the transformation of this sour bachelors into romantic lovers – it is definitely what makes the play enjoyable and comical.

What I notice on this play is that it is focused on the plot and its structure than the character development. It focuses more on ‘what would happen next’ and much attention is given to the effects on the discovery of truth that is blurred by deception and misidentification. So that’s why in the context of the play, although Don John is generally claimed to be the antagonist, still for me, Don John has no ‘justifiable cause’ for his villainy mainly because Shakespeare didn’t focus on the development of his character. He is just this villain who hates seeing other people happy because it makes him sad. However, had Shakespeare focused more on his character development, he would’ve explained Don John’s background for his villainous actions.


I love Dogberry’s character too. Laughs. Really, much attention is taken into nothing.

Dr. Faustus

 

“If we say that we have no sin
We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.
–Faustus to himself, Dr. Faustus

 

 

No one can deny Dr. Faustus remains to be one of Christopher Marlowe’s famous plays. Personally, I think the play The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus is far better than any plays of Shakespeare and can be equated with the standards of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

The story is about Dr. Faustus, a famous scholar in Wittenberg, whose obsession was to know more, and whose passion geared towards studying necromancy, or conjuration of the spirits of the dead. While he was still in his study, the good angel and the bad angel went to him. The good angel persuaded him to stop his ambition to become a necromancy practitioner and fear God, while the bad angel persuaded him that by studying necromancy he could be rich and powerful above all. Things got really dark when Faustus told Mephistopheles that he was ready to surrender his soul to his master Lucifer in exchange of luxurious life and power for 24 years. And so, Faustus made a pact with Lucifer, and for 24 years he traveled the world with evil in his mind. Some of these were drugging the Pope’s ministers with a sleeping potion, convincing the Pope to condemn a man named Bruno, performing annoying tricks to some people, and most of all, condemning the existence of God.

After 24 years, Lucifer and Mephistopheles were now ready to take Faustus’s soul. Although throughout the play he was bothered with repentance and fear of damnation, it was in the end that he finally realized the folly of his actions. But it was already too late for him.

What’s good about Dr. Faustus is that Marlowe incorporated the conflict of the good and evil in the form of good angel and bad angel, and this conflict became Faustus’s internal struggle. But due to his insatiable desires and thirst for more knowledge and supreme power, Faustus is bound to be damned. The readers would feel his moments of contrition, but since he always ended up choosing evil in the end, then we also feel that he should be doomed. He was too driven with greed and ambition.