4lectureDream - Midsummer Nights Dream 3: illusion and...

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Midsummer Night’s Dream 3: illusion and metatheatre Lecture structure: 1. The comic sub-plot (the Mechanicals); 2. Metatheatre. Reminder from the Introductory lecture: The first permanent theatre building in London was probably the Red Lion of 1567, followed by the Theatre in 1576. Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the mid 1590s, only twenty years after the building of the Theatre. The fixed theatres were still a relatively new thing, and good playwrights were still experimenting with what could be done in them. The acting companies were also still establishing their professional credentials and trying to gain respectability. When you get a group of characters putting on a play inside the play you are actually watching or reading, things get very interesting. It is called META-THEATER: a play- within-a-play. (meta- means ‘with’ or ‘after’: so it is the idea of theatre with theatre, or a play-within-a-play.) Obviously, the Mechanical characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream , put on a play that we watch within Shakespeare’s play. 1. The comic sub-plot (the Mechanicals). Three ways it illuminates the main plots: 1.) The Mechanicals choose to stage Pyramus and Thisbe which is a tragedy about a young couple who are kept apart by their parents. This story clearly gives the tragic version of the Hermia and Lysander story and it serves as a warning about how such situations could turn into disasters. 2.) The Mechanicals’ story parallels the main plot in its evocation of hierarchies. For example, Peter Quince is in charge of the actors, but is constantly challenged by Bottom: Quince: Is all our company here? Bottom:
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2010 for the course ENGLISH 162 taught by Professor Dubrow during the Spring '08 term at Wisconsin.

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4lectureDream - Midsummer Nights Dream 3: illusion and...

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