Painting by Henri Fuseli
This week we explored many of the “languages” of the play: rustic, lovers, aristocratic, fairy… and we also focussed closely on that most mysterious speech by Bottom about Bottom’s dream. We came to no clear conclusion on this speech, but, in the context of Hypollyta’s response to Theseus at the beginning of Act 5.1 we concluded that Shakespeare was probably investing Bottom with some visionary capacity- while at the same time using him as a butt of humour…. so there is much to explore here. After all the play as a whole is called A Midsummer Night’s Dream at it stands to reason that Shakespeare is wanting the viewer to ally her/himself with the visionary powers of the imagination to bring transfiguration and great constancy ( see Hippolyta’s words at line 23 in 5.1:
But all the story of the night told over
And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy’s images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But howsoever, strange and admirable.
So here are some wonderful blog topics for the week ahead:
Be Bottom- in your own words tell it all! What was your dream? What did it feel like?
Be Titania: tell it as it was! What was it like being in love/lurve with an ass!
Be Hippolyta: tell us what you really think about the imagination and what you really think about Theseus’ point of view.
Write a paraphrase of Bottom’s dream speech.
Write a paraphrase of Theseus’ anti-imagination speech
Find a few different interpretations of Bottom’s speech (in film, stage or criticism)… give a short talk on what is actually going on in this speech… drawing on other minds!
Please find the audio lecture and tutorial for this week right here- enjoy!