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Thread: Shakespeare's sonnets

  1. #31
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Yes, I see it's another conception of Zen.
    Peter Qince is a self-parody of Shakespeare himself ,yes. And the part of Pyramus and Thisbe is one of the most funniest things Shakespeare' has ever written.
    But Oberon's generosity with the young lovers takes the attention away from his cruelty to his wife.
    Yes, Pyramus and Thisbe is hilarious.

    But about Oberon's supposed cruelty: in my opinion, Titania's jokey humiliation with Bottom (which is Oberon's doing) is no more cruel than the more politically acceptable (in these days) jokey humiliation of Malvolio the Puritan in Twelfth Night or the politically neutral (but humiliating) practical joke Prince Hal pulls on Falstaff in Henry IV part one. Falstaff takes it in sport, and although I am a Protestant, I think the scene with Malvolio is funny. I respect your opinion, Danik, but if you will listen to an alternative one, mine is that it is possible to be a bit too much like Malvolio in applying our own standards to harmless fun like A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    Now, that said, the rough treatment Titania (and queens in general) receive in the play is real and rather interesting. There is a view that it may have been political in its own times. A Midsummer Night's Dream was written when Queen Elizabeth was getting older but would neither marry nor name an heir. This was troubling to many at the time; the lack of an heir could have led to civil war on Elizabeth's death. Some were also troubled by the "faerie queen" cult of personality Elizabeth seemed to be building around herself. They saw it as proudly feminine (in a bad way) and ultimately unnatural and likely to end badly.

    Now, some feminist scholars will tell you (correctly, I think) that one of the themes of A Midsummer Night's Dream is that queens need to be governed by kings. This is why Theseus is engaged to Hypolyta, who is the queen of the Amazons--fierce women warriors devoted to chastity. But Hypolyta is even more than that. Until recently she has been Theseus' mortal enemy (as Elizabeth was with many princes who sought her hand). This has to be put to right through marriage.

    Note also that nature itself is becoming corrupt because of Titania and Oberon's estrangement:

    Titania
    These are the forgeries of jealousy:
    And never, since the middle summer's spring,
    Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
    By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
    Or in the beached margent of the sea,
    To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
    But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
    Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
    As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
    Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
    Have every pelting river made so proud
    That they have overborne their continents:
    The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
    The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
    Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
    The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
    And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
    The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
    And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
    For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
    The human mortals want their winter here;
    No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
    Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
    Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
    That rheumatic diseases do abound:
    And thorough this distemperature we see
    The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
    Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
    And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
    An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
    Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
    The childing autumn, angry winter, change
    Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
    By their increase, now knows not which is which:
    And this same progeny of evils comes
    From our debate, from our dissension;
    We are their parents and original.

    Damn, that's beautiful.

    Anyway, per Shakespeare, the solution to the malady of the times is for the fairy queen (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) to put away her feminine pride and accept her husband in accordance with nature. If not, nature itself--and Oberon is a force of nature--will show her up for the fool she is being. In fact, I wonder if on some level Bottom is a kind of satire on the braying courtiers and lyric poets who played up to Elizabeth's love fantasies--she who should be a queen with a king for a husband instead dallies with *sses.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-15-2019 at 05:03 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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