Pyramus and Thisbe (SUMMARY)
Pyramus and Thisbe are madly in love and live in houses next to each other. Their parents, however, forbid their romance and build a wall between the houses. The lovers find a chink in the wall through which they speak and kiss one another. One night they decide to run away together, meeting at the Tomb of Ninus. Pyramus arrives first, and she sees a terrifying tiger with blood on its mouth. She runs away in fear, dropping her cloak. The tiger tears up the cloak and bloodies it. When Thisbe arrives, he sees the cloak, assumes his lover has died, and kills himself in sorrow. Pyramus returns, sees Thisbe's body, and kills herself with the same knife. From then on, mulberries take on the dark red color of their blood, making the lovers' bond eternal. Pyramus and Thisbe (ANALYSIS)
Like the story of Cupid and Psyche, the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe centers around the idea that true love is forever. Love cannot be contained or regulated, even by death. Unlike with Cupid and Psyche, of course, this myth is a tragedy. The tale seems to be refigured in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare certainly used this play in his Midsummer Night's Dream, in which the merchant characters stage their own version of the tragic love tale. Characters
Pyramus: Handsome youth of Babylon who falls in love with his neighbor, Thisbe. Thisbe: Beautiful young girl of Babylon who returns Pyramus's love. Parents of Pyramus and Thisbe: They oppose a relationship between Pyramus and Thisbe for reasons not explained in the story. The parents play no active role in the story. Semiramis: Queen of Babylon and the subject of myths and legends. After the death of her husband, Ninus, she ruled Babylon for many years. Semiramis is the Greek name for Sammu-ramat. Semiramis plays no active role in the story. Ninus: King of Assyria and late husband of Semiramis. He plays no active role in the story. However, it is at his tomb that Pyramus and Thisbe meet after running away.
Pyramus and Thisbe (PLOT SUMMARY)
..In Babylon during the reign of Queen Semiramis, Pyramus and Thisbe live in separate houses sharing the same roof. Of all the young men in the region, Pyramus has no equal in the magnificence of his looks, and Thisbe is fairer than the fairest nymph. .......When they grew up, their acquaintance turned into friendship—and friendship into burning love. But their parents now stand between them, forbidding them to see each other or even to speak of their love. However, "The fire of love the more it is supprest, / The more it glows and rages in the breast." When the wall dividing their homes was built, shrinkage in the cement left a crack in the wall that went unnoticed except by the two lovers. Through it, they whisper their sorrows and joys. Desperate with love, they attempt to kiss, but the crack is too small. Even so, they often remain at the wall through the night. .......In time, they decide to run away and meet at the tomb of Ninus, next to a tree bearing white berries. During the hours before their planned nighttime escape, they are “impatient for the friendly dusk” to appear and “chide the slowness of departing day.” After the sun sinks in the western sea, Thisbe steals away, her face veiled, and quickly arrives at the tomb. And then "a lioness rush’d o’er the plain, Grimly besmear'd with blood of oxen slain."
.......The frightening sight quickens her thirst, and she runs to a nearby brook to drink, losing her veil along the way. Afterward, in a nearby cave, she calms down as she awaits the arrival of Pyramus. Meanwhile, the lion roams back across the plain, discovers the veil, “and mouthing it all o’er, / With bloody jaws the lifeless prey she tore.” .......Pyramus, who had to delay his departure until he could sneak past the watchful eyes in his home, arrives late. In the moonlight, he sees the paw prints of the lioness and, to his horror, finds the torn and bloody veil near the tomb. He upbraids...
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