A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Midsummer Night’s Dream review
The sprites can make us do foolish things, especially when it comes to love. There are times we seem to lose ourselves, we become so bewitched with love for others. The potion of Oberon and transformation of Bottom into an ass, and the goddess Titania loving him for a time, show this.
Even the gods themselves can hold irrational grudges against each other, causing trouble for mortals below.
We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, and to laugh mercifully at others instead of be offended by them. The play at the end of the play pictures this, as the aristocratic audience laughs and enjoys the many mistakes the bumbling amateurs make.
There’s a serious point to this, though. Life throws you curveballs that can really hurt. The whole tone of the play in the first scene is very different from the rest. The father is pressing his right to execute or forcibly send to a nunnery his daughter if she won’t marry the right guy. She escapes to the woods with her lover, but a love triangle ensues because of the potion. Her lover sets his affections on another girl, who is tormented by two suitors when they rejected her cruelly just yesterday. The insults are painful to hear.
So Shakespeare doesn’t ignore the suffering of life, even in this comedy. But fortune will see it set right in the end, and we are called to see it all as a passing dream. At this point I disagree with the underlying message: trials in life are sent to us providentially for our good, they are not passing dreams and mistakes to look back on with mere laughter.
But final point is a good one: we must be merciful to each other because of the bumbling mistakes we tend to make in life. The girl marries her love, who spurned her the night before under the bewitching potion. The audience applauds the poorly acted play, to give them joy.
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