BCIS
A_Midsummer_Nights_Dream_Text_book.pdf

Act v 87 understanding literature questions for

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ACT V 87
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Understanding Literature ( QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION ) 1. Verbal Irony. In verbal irony a statement is made that implies its opposite. The artisans begin their play with a prologue delivered by Quince. Quince punctuates this pro- logue so poorly that it becomes an example of verbal irony—Quince says the opposite of what he means to say. Find a couple of examples of verbal irony in this passage. Explain what Quince means to say to his audience and what he in effect says. 2. Parody and Satire. A parody is a literary work that imi- tates another work for humorous, often satirical purposes. Satire is humorous writing or speech intended to point out errors, falsehoods, foibles, or failings. Through the device of the artisans’ production of Pyramus and Thisby, Shakespeare parodies and satirizes a form of drama immensely popular in the years before A Midsummer Night’s Dream was writ- ten—Senecan tragedy, or tragedy modeled after the plays of the ancient Roman tragedian Seneca. Characteristics of English Senecan tragedy were melodrama, or overblown expressions of emotion that are not warranted given the lack of character development, and the use of stereotypical phrases to express grief, like addresses to the Fates and Furies or direct, overblown addresses to something or someone (O night! O death! O love!). Shakespeare also par- odies bad poetry: poor rhymes; trite and clichéd similes and metaphors (such as the comparisons between human fea- tures and flowers); and overuse of alliteration, or the repeti- tion of initial consonant sounds. Find examples of lines in the Pyramus and Thisby play where Shakespeare is clearly parodying and satirizing Senecan tragedy and bad poetry. At what is he poking fun in these lines? Explain why Shakespeare may have chosen to parody these things in his play. Of what must he have been confident? 3. Aim. A writer’s aim is the primary purpose that his or her work is meant to achieve. What is the aim of the final speech of the play? In what way does Puck continue Bottom’s work in lifting the illusion of the theater for the audience? 88 A MIDSUMMER NIGHT S DREAM
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PLOT ANALYSIS OF A MIDSUMMER NIGHT S DREAM 89 Plot Analysis of A Midsummer Night’s Dream The following diagram, known as Freytag’s Pyramid, illustrates the main plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream . For definitions and more information on the parts of a plot, see the Handbook of Literary Terms. Exposition and Inciting Incident (Act I) In a five-act play, the first act typically presents the setting and the main characters. The central conflict is also devel- oped. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream , Athens is introduced and the wood in which much of the action of the story will take place is mentioned. The reader or audience meets Theseus, ruler of Athens, and Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, whom Theseus will wed in four days. Egeus, a nobleman, approaches Theseus accompanied by his daughter Hermia and two young men named Lysander and Demetrius.
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