A Midsummer Nights Delusion (Fabulous Fairy Tales Book 1)
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There was so much for them to talk over. When Phil came out, disguised, the sisters tossed a coin with Hector and Stan for who would be the busker and who would be the shill. It is our night, after all. Her life, her calling, was the stage, but she had any number of lesser passions too, and she approached each of them with a single-minded dedication. Everything she did was, to her, the most important thing in the world, and she took herself, and her causes, very seriously. She adjusted the severe lines of her dowdy wool suit. Fancy, dressing like a spinster secretary at my age , she thought.
She came from a long line of performers and was ready to play anything from infant to sexpot to granny if it made the audience roar. Now she looked respectable, practical, as ordinary as it was possible for her to look. She looked like a codfish, but it got people to stop and share her amazement.
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No fewer than five people stopped and stared. He gave a self-deprecating little laugh. The antigravitational forces are such as to occasionally disrupt timepieces. Phil nodded in approval. He had them positioned exactly right, clustered and facing traffic so the passing motors and pedestrians too single-minded to stop would create a blurring backdrop to the trick and add to the distraction. Gravity pounced upon him again, and he landed with a stagger, out of breath and grinning. Or you can see what a master magician can do this very afternoon.
Jan 07, James rated it really liked it Shelves: 4-written-preth-century , 1-fiction.
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What a fun read! I first read this in high school and then again in college as part of a course on Shakespeare. Then I watched a few movie versions. It's full of so much humor and creativity. The plot is essentially the impacts of magic, as some fairy dust causes everyone to fall in love with the first person they see -- once the dust falls on them. Imagine the hilarity that ensues in a chain reaction of who loves who. If you want to read a comedy, this would be one of the top 3. It's got lovable characters, lots of understandable metaphors and a ton of memorable and enjoyable scenes.
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Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication: Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk The hopes of all men and of every nation; Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion: But to return,—Get very drunk; and when You wake with headache, you shall see what then.
If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good will. To sh Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication: Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk The hopes of all men and of every nation; Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk Of life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion: But to return,—Get very drunk; and when You wake with headache, you shall see what then. To show our simple skill, That is the true beginning of our end. Consider then we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you, Our true intent is. All for your delight We are not here. That you should here repent you, The actors are on hand; and, by their show, You shall know all, that you are like to know. But belying its great universal appeal it might be a stinging social satire too, glossed over by most in their dreamy enjoyment of the magnificent world Shakespeare presents and also by the deliberate gross-comedy in the end that hides the play from itself. In this fantastic masterpiece, Shakespeare moves with wonderful dramatic dexterity through several realms, weaving together disparate storylines and styles of speech.
It is also perhaps the play which affords maximum inventiveness on stage, both in terms of message and of atmosphere. Also central to the play is the tension between desire and social mores. Characters are repeatedly required to quell their passion for the sake of law and propriety. Another important conflict is between love and reason, with the heart almost always overruling the mind.
Third antipathy is between love and social class divisions, with some combinations ruled out arbitrarily, with no appeal to reason except for birth. This when combined with upward aspirations and downward suppressed fantasies form a wonderful sub-plot to the whole drama. The unreasonable social mores is represented by Egeus, who is one character who never changes. It is also important that the women's loves not altered by the potion, which is very significantly dropped into the eyes, affecting vision - i. Lack of reason, though embodied in all the lovers, are brought to life by Puck as the agent of madness and of confusion of sight, which is the entry-point for love in Shakespeare.
Finally, class aspirations and their asinine nature by Bottom himself Love, Interrupted Out of all these, every character is given a positive light or an extra-human light, in the case of the fairies except Egeus, who is the reason for the night-time excursion and all the comedy. Hence, it is social mores that compel the wildness on love which is not allowed to express itself freely.
When freed of this and allowed to resolve itself in a Bacchanalian night all was well again and order was restored to the world. This reviewer has taken the liberty of assuming that this is the central theme of the play - which is also deliciously ironic since it is supposed to have been written for a wedding. What better time to mock the institution of marriage than at a wedding gala? So in a way the four themes - difficulties of true love, restrictions by propriety and customs, and the comical unreason that beset lovers, and class differences that put some desires fully into the category of fantasies - are all products of social mores that impose artificial restrictions on love and bring on all the things mocked in this play by Shakespeare.
In fact this is one reason why Bottom could be the real hero of the play as is the fashion among critical receptions of the play these days - he was the only one comfortable in transcending all these barriers, at home everywhere and in the end also content with his dreams and in the realization that he would be an ass to try to comprehend what is wrong with the world.
It is quite telling that it was Bottom who accepted love and reason seldom go together and expresses the hope that love and reason should become friends. Again the need for a bit of madness lunacy, mark the repeated moon ref. It is almost an appeal to the Dionysian aspects of life - see alternate review on Nietzsche for detail. In some sense, Puck, with his ability to translate himself into any character, with his skill in creating performances that seem all too real to their human audiences, could be seen as a mascot of the theater.
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Therefore, his final words are an apology for the play itself. Also mark how Puck courteously addresses the audience as gentlefolk, paralleling Quince's address to his stage audience in his Prologue. Thus, the final extrapolation on the theme could be that Shakespeare ultimately points out that though a bit of madness and wildness is needed to bring love back into the realms of the truth, it can also be achieved through great art, through sublime theater - not by bad theater though!
When the actor playing Puck stands alone on the stage talking to the audience about dreams and illusions, he is necessarily reminding them that there is another kind of magic - the magic of the theatre. And the magic it conjures is the magic of self-discovery. Thus the spectators have not only watched the dream of others but have, by that focus of attention, entered the dream state themselves. That is why Shakespeare has made it easy for us and created an art-form of a play that allows us to dream-in-unreason and wake up refreshed.
It might not give the transport and release and inward-looking that is necessary to achieve the madness that true art is supposed to confer. So Shakespeare uses the play to educate us on what is needed to find ourselves and then the play-within-the-play to also show us what to avoid. At the moment when the play most clearly declares itself to be trivial, we have the strongest appeal to our sympathy for it.
Here it parallels life and love, both beyond reason, limited only by the imagination.