Midsummer Night Dream

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Political Propaganda and Satire in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". (To be Continued) Author(s): Edith Rickert Source: Modern Philology, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Aug., 1923), pp. 53-87 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/433422 . Accessed: 14/04/2011 05:48 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ucpress. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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POLITICAL PROPAGANDA AND SATIRE IN A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM In 1914, while preparing an American edition of the Arden A Midsummer Night's Dream, I observed that the pageantry in Oberon's vision (II, i, 148 ff.) fits much better the magnificent fete at Elvetham in 1591, given by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, than its prototype at Kenilworth, given by Leicester in 1575. At the same time, it seemed much more likely that Shakespeare would associate with a compliment to the Queen a recent occasion about which she had openly expressed the pleasure it gave her than one twenty years old the memory of which must have revived painful experiences.' But, on the other hand, what had Shakespeare to do with the Earl of Hertford, or the Earl of Hertford with a compliment to the Queen? Ever since Warburton's attempt to read allegory into the passage, it has generally been recognized that the lines contain topical matter of some kind, but all theories evolved fail in one respect-they fail to motivate its introduction.2 With these ideas in mind, I resolved to examine the evidence connecting Elvetham with the play and the Earl of Hertford with a compliment to the Queen. This investigation is not yet concluded and cannot be while there is an Elizabethan document unread; but the facts it has brought to light thus far and the theories they have suggested are in themselves so startling and so important for the interpretation of Shakespeare's work that it has seemed best to submit them for the consideration of scholars even in their incomplete and tentative form. 1 According to Halpin (" Oberon's Vision," Shakespeare Soc. Publ., 1843), the "little western flower" was Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex, the Queen's cousin, whom Leicester married when he felt that he could never win the Queen. But why should Shakespeare revive a state of mind that had kept Lettice Knollys from court for almost twenty years ? IFor a convenient summary of early theories, cf. Aldis Wright, in the Clarendon Press edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1894), pp. xii ft. In 1916, Mr. E. K. Chambers, in A Book of Homage to Shakespeare, pp. 154 ff., argued ably that the occasion referred to might as well have been Elvetham as Kenilworth. In L'Opinion (23 octobre, 1920), p. 452, M. Abel le Franc pointed out additional correspondences; and in L'Illustration (30 octobre, 1920), p. 320, above the signature "A. C." is a summary of M. le...
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