Response to Shakespeare Essay
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The key character within the mechanicals is Bottom. In the Hoffman version he presents Bottom as a useless dreamer and even gives Bottom wife who actually says ‘he is a useless dreamer’. He is also portrayed as a bit of a town clown as he begins to perform in front of the town people a couple of kids pour red wine all over his white suit. The crowd that has gathered then begins to laugh and no one goes to comfort him or try and catch the kids that poured the wine, they just stand and laugh at him.
In the noble version he is portrayed as a larger than life character that everyone appears to love.
The actor that has been cast to play this part, who is larger than any other actor in the film, reinforces this larger than life character. The nest group of characters that Shakespeare throws upon the audience are the fairies, which I mentioned earlier. He takes the audience straight to the heart of the fairy world by showing the King and Queen of fairies, Oberon and Titania. They appear to be having a fight, or a lover tiff and this appears to have a direct affect on the mortal world as when they are arguing the weather is wet and stormy.
Also because of this argument between the King and Queen the rest of the fairy world is seen to be in disorder. This is shown in the Hoffman version by their being a party and fairies getting drunk and causing general chaos within the fairy world. In Shakespearean times there were only a limited amount of props that Shakespeare could use during his play therefore he had to transport the audience to the fairy world using their imagination. Shakespeare only had a fraction of what is available to use today in his plays and therefore heavily relied on the audience power of imagination and his ability to create a place by using mere words.
Shakespeare uses his words very effectively by emphasising the beauty and richness of the fairy world by using world like, orbs, gold coats and rubies. Another technique Shakespeare uses to try and place the audience inside the fairy world is alliteration. Alliteration helps outline the key words in the sentence and reinforces the beauty of the words that Shakespeare uses. An example of alliteration is in Act 2 Scene 1 when Puck says’ ‘And now they never meet in grove of green, By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen. ‘
Alliteration is used at the end of both of these lines and imprints a picture of beauty into the audience’s mind. Each director confronts the problem of giving the audience the idea that they are changing realms relative to their respective budget. The Hoffman version uses rich props and obscure settings, such as big colourful trees, to resemble the fairy world. Where as in the Noble version where there is a much smaller budget the fairy realm is represented by different colours and lighting effects and a minimal amount of obscure props, such as big umbrellas that the fairies float in on.
Through out the play the theme of dreaming becomes very important and is in fact so important it is in the title of the play. Six characters falling asleep and dreaming during the play, which also reinforce the idea of dreaming. When characters fall asleep and dream it causes confusion with the character that has been dreaming and sometimes the dream even stretches to characters around the sleeper. This is when reality and dreams become so closely entwined it becomes impossible for the characters, and the audience to some extent, to tell between the two.
An example of this is Bottom, from the mechanicals, when he has a short relationship with Titania and an ass’s head on his shoulders. When he arises he doesn’t know whether his escapade with Titania was reality or just a dream. The fairies playing tricks with the lovers’ emotion’s and feelings as the put fairy dust in their eyes that reinforce this general feel of confusion. This is done while they sleep so when they wake up and are unsure of what they feel about the people closest to them.
Examples of this are with Demetrius and Lysander, both of whom where fixated upon Hermia but when they feel asleep they arose madly in love with Helena and couldn’t care less about Hermia because of what the fairies had done while they were sleeping. Dreaming is also reinforced throughout this play as most of it is set in the dark at night time where dreaming traditionally takes place. Also when in the dark, objects are seen in different light and can be construed in the imagination to look like anything as their shadows mangle the shape of the actual object.
In the Noble version the power of the subconscious mind is focused on much more than in the Hoffman version, as Noble uses weird sets and strange costumes throughout the play but especially in the woods where so much confusion and mystification occurs. Not only the actual things the viewers see on the screen are used to create this image of a very powerful subliminal world that this play is set in but also the way in which Noble lays out the play.
Noble adds a boy to the play and makes it appear as if the play is the boy’s dream and therefore Noble is able to make the play run like a dream which gives him more freedom to make the play more surreal. This idea of the play being the boy’s dream comes from the opening seen when the audience is taken inside a house to the boy that is sleeping with a copy of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ under his arm. The boy is then suddenly awake exploring a house that is larger than and very unrealistic as doors are enlarged and the boy is made to be very small amongst these huge objects.
The reason for the boy dreaming these sequences of events could be because he has read the play as a sort of bedtime story and literal events that could have happened around him or within his family. The boy could have jumbled up the two; reality and fiction, in his subconscious mind and when he fell asleep these idea could have come through. The Noble version could also be thought to take the play to the next level if you like thinking the play to be a more deeper philosophical type of play, rather than a light hearted romantic comedy which Shakespeare original wrote it to be.
This philosophical reasoning could be construed as that there is no reality and we all live in one huge dream. In conclusion when comparing the two plays yet they consist of exactly the same characters that say exactly the same words they are quite different. The Noble version appears to be a much funnier play than the Hoffman play becomes of the way certain characters, especially the mechanicals, are presented to the audience.
Along with the idea that the Noble version is funnier I believe because Noble has tried to make the play funnier he has also added more fantasy that the Hoffman version mainly because of the sets, back drops and costumes that Noble had decided to use. I think that the Noble version appeals to a younger audience than the Hoffman version does because of its funnier side than the Hoffman version but not a wide spread basis, the film will never be nominated for a BAFTA award or anything of that sort because of its low budget.
Where as the Hoffman version has a much higher budget and will therefore appeal to filmgoers rather than people who like to watch Shakespeare on stage. Because of its glamour, lush background and expensive actors I feel that the Hoffman is more magical because Hoffman is able to use whatever set he pleases or go out on location and ‘doll’ up a place to his satisfaction, Noble I don’t think never had that luxury. I think it is more magical because the of setting that Hoffman presents with the film, for example when the audience is taken into the woods and the fairy land I think that the tree in which they are partying appears quite magical.
I also feel that the Hoffman version is more romantic because the actors and actresses are always quite close to each and the opening scene illustrates this in the Hoffman version where Hermia, Lysnander and Helena are all pressed closed together. Overall I think that the Noble version is better because I like the way in which Noble has presented the mechanicals and feel that it is more light hearted than the Hoffman version. I also think that the Hoffman version has tried too hard to create the sets that Shakespeare writes about throughout the play and at times is a bit over the top with the backgrounds.