Shakespeare: the Comedies

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The Comedies:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
PJ Arata
ENG/304
Sept. 16, 2012
Diane Duncan

I have chosen option no. 3 for this paper, exploring the course of true love in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I will be addressing the four following questions: * What functions in the plot do Puck and Bottom serve?

* What purpose is served by having Titania fall in love with an ass? * How does the famous line, “The course of true love never did run smooth” characterize the affairs of the couples? * Why do the fairies intervene in human affairs?

The Bard gives little development of his characters in this, possibly the greatest of his comedies. There’s no specific central character (protagonist) but most of us think of Puck as the most important role in the play. His mischief and his quick wit put a great deal of the play’s events into play with his magic, with both his intentional pranks on the human characters (such as turning Bottom’s head into the head of an ass) and fateful errors (spreading the love potion onto Lysander’s eyelids instead of Demetrius’s). Even more to the point, Puck’s impulsive spirit, fun-loving humor, and clever, suggestive words infuse the tone of the play. “Wild contrasts, such as the implicit comparison between the rough, earthy craftsmen and the delicate, graceful fairies” govern this play (Birmingham, 2012). Puck gives the audience/readers the impression that he possesses most of (if not all of) these distinctions. He has a solid grace but not as sweet as the other fairies. Being Oberon’s fool (comic relief) he has a fondness for being vulgar and insensitive, which brings about his transforming Bottom’s head to an ass’s all for his own pleasure. He has a good heart but has a tendency to play cruel jokes at the expense of the human characters. Another point worth making is the contrast between the unearthly beauty of all the other fairies and Puck’s “somewhat bizarre looking” (Birmingham, 2012). His looks,...
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