Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Greetings lovelies! Have you ever heard of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Ever since I was in my early teens, I've been very fond of this play in particular. The movie adaption, starring Callista Flockhart and Michelle Pfeiffer, was the thing that really got me interested in the original play. I was captivated by the beauty and magic of the Faeries, and felt empathy for poor Helena. I had a little group of girlfriends, and we'd get together in the forest after school and read out our favourite parts from the play.


For those that haven't read the play, or seen the film adaptions, I'll give you the basic rundown:

Hermia and Lysander are in love, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius and is jealous of his love for Hermia. Hermia decides to runaway with Lysander into the forest, and Demetrius is determined to bring her back, and make her his wife, while Helena is determined to make Demetrius her husband. So the four lovers are in the forest, running around after each other.

Helena (Calista Flockhart), Demetrius (Christian Bale), Lysander, Hermia
Unseen to human eyes, is the world of the Faeries, within the same forest the lovers are in. Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Faeries, are arguing over who will look after a little human boy. (It seems like Oberon and Titania have different Faerie courts that they rule separately, even though they're married.) They then accuse each other of cheating, and Oberon decides to play a mischievous trick on his wife.

Oberon (Rupert Everette) and Titania (Michelle Pfeiffer)
He sends Puck, his servant sprite, to fetch a special flower, that when its juice is squeezed over a person's closed eyes, they will fall madly in love with the first person they see upon waking. Oberon put the magic juice on her eyes, and sends Puck to put some on Demetrius' eyes too, so that he loves Helena back.


Puck accidentally puts the juice on Lysander's eyes, thinking he is Demetrius, and then Lysander is woken up by Helena, who trips over him, and swears to kill Demetrius. So now, Lysander loves Helena instead of Hermia, who he ran away with in the first place.

Puck and Oberon
When Titania wakes up, the first thing she sees is a man with the head of a donkey (transformed by her husband and Puck), and she falls madly in love with the ass immediately.

Humour ensues.

Some of my favourite lines from the play:

Godspeed, fair Helena! Whither away?

Call you me “fair”? That “fair” again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair. O happy fair!
Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue’s sweet air
More tunable than lark to shepherd’s ear
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching. Oh, were favor so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go.
My ear should catch your voice. My eye, your eye.
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.

Translated into modern English by Sparksnotes:

Hello, beautiful Helena! Where are you going?

Did you just call me “beautiful”? Take it back. You’re the beautiful one as far as Demetrius is concerned. Oh, you’re so lucky! Your eyes are like stars, and your voice is more musical than a lark’s song is to a shepherd in the springtime. Sickness is contagious—I wish beauty were contagious too! I would catch your good looks before I left. My ear would be infected by your voice, my eye by your eye, and my tongue would come down with a bad case of your melodious speech. If the world were mine, I’d give it all up—everything except Demetrius—to be you.

All of this played a big part in my inspiration for my Shakespeare inspired painting, Titania, which you'll see in my next journal post! :)

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