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Lecture 2

ENGL 2P80 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Hermia, Cupid

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Mathew Martin

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ENGL2P80 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Lecture 2
Midsummer nights dream – concept of reality – nightmare.
This play has its roots in Shakespeare’s earlier comedies.
Critiques suggest that the play establishes a new comic model or paradigm
and called it festive comedies.
The central concern of Festive comedies
The relationship between the sexual and the social.
The creation of a world removed both in time and space from the everyday
ordinary world. – the world outside of Athens
None of the removed worlds in later comedies posses the dream like space
like in this play.
Characters #nd a degree of release of constraints of the everyday world in
festive comedies.
Like holidays, festive worlds are only temporary – the characters have the
opportunity to sort their problems out before returning to the ordinary world.
The festive world is not just an escape from the everyday world, but also a
preparation for the return to the everyday world – a place of clari#cation, they
are free to sort problems out. This clari#cation is not just personal, but also
social. The process of release leads to a clari#cation and a renewal of social
relationships. This clari#cation and resolution takes the form of marriage in
Festive comedy explores the channeling of potentially anarchic sexual energy
into socially acceptable forms – marriage.
In MND – the relationship between sexuality and society emerges in the
beginning as one of con*ict – #rst 6 lines of the play – Theseus is impatient,
and it’s the result of a con*ict between his sexual desires and the social
institution within which those desires will #nd their proper expression which Is
marriage and will not happen within a few days. He is told to dream to
shorten the time, and to fantasize in a place where he can express his
Hypolethes remedy for theseus is the plays remedy for the 4 lovers – their
dreaming in the woods and fantasizing is brought together later as
marriage. \
2 key oppositions – Fancy and Reason & Love and the Law
These are the terms in which the play opens the #rst comic con*ict.
Agues – Lysander has stolen the impression of her fantasy. Lysander has
transformed her and made her a disobedient daughter. Its signi#cant that he
sees Lysander transforming his daughter as a form of theft and illegal
activity, he stole Hermia’s heart and made her disobedient to him. Lines 38-
35 Act 1 Scene 1.
oThe con*ict created between her fancy and reason is the cause of a
greater con*ict between Hermia’s love and Athenian law. What begins
as a con*ict within her, becomes a con*ict between her and her father
and then her and the law.
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