William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream

1973 Words Jul 8th, 2018 8 Pages
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The focus of this discussion will be upon the language and performance possibilities of this extract from the Dream[1], following brief consideration of the manner in which the extract relates to the rest of the play in terms of plot development and the reflection of certain of the play’s themes. Performance aspects are considered alongside the distinctive features of the language, as it is suggested that the nature of the language employed governs performance. Broadly speaking, it is argued that while the language of the extract lends itself to a humorous performance on more than one level, in certain respects the humour seeks to convey a serious
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The discussion divides the extract into three sections: the first of these covers lines 80 to 91, concentrating on Flute’s speech as Thisbe; the second covers lines 92 to 105, concentrating on Puck’s speech of lines 94 to 99. The third section considers the remainder of the extract, focusing on the exchange between Bottom and Titania.

On a superficial level, Flute’s speech has a profoundly humorous tone, derived from the patently contradictory images and the irony, with which the language used to describe Bottom, as Pyramus, is laced. Language is hyperbolic, with ‘most’ repeated four times (3.1.80 and 82). Descriptions are effusive, conflicting and present the antithesis of the Bottom known to the audience. He is ‘lily-white of hue’ and yet also ‘radiant’ and ‘Of colour like the red rose’ (3.1.80 and 81). Equally, he is described as a ‘bristly juvenile’ (3.1.82) and, unlikely in the context of Elizabethan England, a ‘lovely Jew’ (3.1.82). So unlikely and internally conflicting are the descriptions that they appear to have been chosen with the principal aim of achieving the abab rhyme scheme. The concluding erroneous reference to ‘Ninny’s tomb’ (3.1.84) has the effect of a punch line, neatly encapsulating Flute’s