Thursday, June 14, 2007

O Lord, what fools these mortals be!

I kicked off my summer (a bit early) appropriately by re-reading A Midsummer Night's Dream. One of the things that I like about Shakespeare is that he remains so darn funny. I was chuckling all the way through the Pyramus and Thisbe scene, which is so silly and touching at the same time. All the while Bottom and his fellows are murdering the play with their literalness and malapropisms (Ninny's tomb!) and the royal onlookers are making their snarky comments, you are acutely aware of their earnestness and their sense of duty. They are the best of good 'ole boys paying their respect to king and queen on their wedding day having spent their zero leisure time preparing their lines and being set upon by mischievous fairies!

I was reading something the other day about the play that reminded me of all the spells lifted to put things to rights at the end, Demetrius was left under a spell. He didn't love Helena until the potion was put into his eyes, but the fairies didn't mend their magic, so essentially, it's only magic that ties him to Helena. For Shakespeare, of course, it paired off all the lovers neatly at the end. If he had indulged in sequels as much as we do today, he could have written a further tragedy (or maybe one of those dark romances) in which Demetrius awakens from the spell and is married to a woman that he doesn't even like! Possibilities!

I think I'm going to read The Tempest again too; then Faust -- both Marlowe's and Goethe's. It's all John Crowley's fault!

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