Tragedy in Comedy
Tragedy in Comedy
Tragedy in Comedy is only a bad dream. This statement ironically captures the fable created by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While in the play, the night spent by the three couples and the performers in the woods outside Athens is felt by them to be a wild dream, for the audience viewing this comedy, the tragic elements at the beginning of the play seem less like the reality in Shakespeare’s make-believe world. This world has gods and lovers, half-man half-donkey, and goblins spreading love potions.
The play captures many elements from the English mythological tradition, and uses them with poise and reserve. As one of the most popular adaptations for film and theatre in modern times, the play survives its intricate plot, typical characterization and reserved prose. The play begins in the house of Egeus with Hermia fighting against the wish of her father to marry the man chosen by him. In response, he invokes the ancient Athenian law that states that a daughter must marry according to the wishes of her father, or else face death.
But Egeus gives Hermia another choice, to observe a lifelong chastity in the worship of the goddess Diana as a nun. Hermia decides to elope with her lover, Lysander and they both flight to marry in the house of Hermia’s aunt. They then escape to the forest outside Athens. Hermia has told of this to no one but her friend Helena, who, out of jealousy at being rejected by Demetrious, decides to tell him this in order to gain his favor. The humor here lies in the bitchy love affairs that make Helena betray her friend’s secret.
In paintings and other art depicting the scene of confiding, the two are shown in close consultation, secretive and bonding. Thus, the scene is essential in the way that it builds up to the confusion, with Helena trailing Demetrius in his quest to trace Hermia and her lover. It also breaks away from the image, where sacrifice is easily rejected for personal happiness. Such a hedonistic impulse can only mean that the scene is set for the fight or pleasure, in which each person will vie for the lover’s hand.
This fight takes a ridiculous proportion, when Oberon, king of the fairies brings forth the hobgoblin, Puck, to lace the sleeping Titania with love potion. Helena is shown from the start to be in pursuit of personal gain. This takes comic proportions when the spellbound Dymetrius and Lysander, a result of an incompetent Puck’s mistaking of Lysander for Demetrius, fall madly in love with her. She feels that this sudden reversal must mean that the two are mocking her. So she can no longer indulge in self centered pursuit, for the objects that she sought now seek her in maddening courtship. Herein lays Helena’s comedy.
But it is finally Puck who saves the day, by removing the spell from Lysander, who consequently goes back to his affectionate relationship with Hermia. The band of six “rude mechanicals”, or stage actors who are to perform at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, find their way into the forest where the “love in idleness” has caused chaos. It is Puck’s mischief again, in transforming Nick Bottom, an actor, into a man with the head of a donkey. His singing then awakens Titania, who has also been cast with the love potion. This is done on Oberon’s command, for he wishes to procure her changeling as a henchman.
This is perhaps the part, when Titania falling madly in love with Bottom, showers Bottom with all that is deserving of a nobleman, a part that is most loved by the audiences of this play. It reaches a tragicomic poise that is eloquent and base all at once (Khoury, 2006). Oberon later orders Puck to remove the curse from Titania, who in turn frees Bottom from the donkey’s head. Oberon commands that Lysander should be freed of the magical hold, but it should remain on Demetrius. The serialization is complete. Theseus and Hippolyta arrive on their morning hunt and find the lovers asleep.
Upon waking them, a grand ceremony is held by Oberon. Egeus agrees to Hermia’s union with Lysander, and a group wedding takes place. The lovers believe that the night’s event must have been a dream, and watching a performance by the six workmen, though not particularly pleasing; the lovers find a sense of pleasure and contentment. Oberon and the fairies enter after some time to bless them with good fortune. References “Shakespeare’s Sources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shakespeare-online. com. Retrieved on 2009-11-01. The Tempest available at http://shakespeare. mit.
edu/tempest/full. html Retrieved on 2009-11-01. The Tempest http://www. enotes. com/a-tempest/ Retrieved on 2009-11-01. The tempest revisited in Martinique: Aime Cesaire’s Shakespeare. (Critical essay) Khoury, J. (2006) The tempest revisited in Martinique: Aime Cesaire’s Shakespeare. (Critical essay) Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies | September 22, 2006 | http://www. accessmylibrary. com/article-1G1-154756422/tempest-revisited-martinique-aime. html Retrieved on 2009-11-01. http://cscanada. net/index. php/css/article/viewFile/559/pdf_398 Retrieved on 2009-11-01.