Shakespeare Week 3: Marlow, Ralegh, Shakespeare ( A Midsummer Night’s Dream/ As You Like It)

Literature & Life Autumn 2018

Jean-Honoré_Fragonard_(1732–1806)_A_pastoral_landscape (1)

We covered some really interesting ground in class today through exploring the Pastoral tradition as presented by Marlow (in “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and as knocked down by Ralegh (in “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”). So these poems are presenting critically the whole idea of the Pastoral world: is it a great place to be, or is it also a place that one can’t trust? Ralegh -seemingly siding with Woman-  suggests that men have an idealistic, totally materialistic view of what makes the world work.

For Shakespeare, in both A Midsummer Night’s Dream but especially in  As You Like It, the Pastoral realm is a place where humans can restore themselves, finding a new balance, a new appreciation for nature and for life itself. This is the essence of Duke Senior’s talk to his foresters in the forest of Arden at the start of Act 2 scene1:

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