5 r what is the basic story line of the play that the

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5. R: What is the basic story line of the play that the arti- sans present? How do the nobles react to the events that occur in this play? 6. I: In what way are the story line and subject matter of the play within the play related to what has occurred in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Might Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena have been more moved by this play in act I than they are in act V? Why do you think they react as they do to this play now that their experiences in the wood are behind them and remembered only as strange dreams? 86 A MIDSUMMER NIGHT S DREAM
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7. R: What does Theseus say about the time just before the nobles retire to bed? When Puck enters, what does he say about the time of night? about this particular house? When Oberon and Titania appear, what blessing do they bestow upon the occupants of the house? 8. I: The nobles seem to have forgotten all about the world of the fairies by the play’s end. In what way do the fairies assert their importance to human life at the play’s end? Why might this blessing be especially significant if A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written and first performed for a courtly wedding? Synthesizing 9. Even though Theseus claims he can pick a better wel- come from “fearful duty” than from “audacious elo- quence,” he and the other nobles interrupt the artisans’ play with constant comments, critiques, and jests. For example, when Theseus and Demetrius interrupt the char- acter who plays the moon to jest about cuckolds, the moon has to repeat his first line. When the nobles interrupt to exchange witty jests again, the moon actually has to be told to proceed before he will continue. What do you think of the nobles’ behavior during the play? What does their behavior reveal about the nobles as characters? Why do the nobles find it irresistible to comment on this play? What have the artisans misunderstood about the theater? In what way have the artisans affected their play by removing all dramatic illusion and realism? In a play, what must take precedence—cool reason or imagination? 10. In the Pyramus and Thisby play, in what way does Bottom violate one of the conventions of theater—the dis- tance between actor and audience? Explain how Bottom forces the nobles from their roles as observing audience members to make them more closely involved with the play. In what way do Bottom’s actions point out that not only Pyramus and Thisby but all the characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are mere “shadows,” or actors? Explain whether the nobles are aware of their own roles as actors in this play. In what way does this lifting of the illu- sions of literature and the theater affect your perceptions of the play? Explain whether it reminds you that the whole play is, after all, just a play.
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