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A Midsummer Night's Dream (No Fear Shakespeare) Paperback – Jul 3 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: SparkNotes (July 3 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586638483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586638481
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Traditionally seen as one of Shakespeare's more romantic and enchanting plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream has more recently been seen as a darker and more sinister play than generations of schoolchildren have ever imagined. The play has usually been seen as a comical tale with confused identities and the fickleness of youthful love, as the young lovers, Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Helena escape parental control and the "sharp Athenian law" of their elders by eloping into the forest outside the city. Unfortunately they stumble into civil war in fairyland, where King Oberon and Queen Titania fight over possession of a beautiful young Indian "changeling" boy. The appearance of the "rude mechanicals", a group of Athenian workers, including the weaver Nick Bottom, compounds the confusion. Chaos, confusion and "shaping fantasies" reign before the final settlement of the play, but underneath all the hilarity many critics have discerned more ambivalent attitudes towards coercive parental control, bestial sexuality and the destructive power of desire. These approaches in no way detract from the exquisite lyricism of many sections of the play, but make it a more complex and effective comedy than has often been appreciated. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"A fine example of judicious editorial writing. Foakes guides the reader securely and fluently through the critical and scholarly disputes that have accumulated around the play. He manages to be informative without being patronizing, and detached with out failing to offer opinions." The Times Higher Education Supplement --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 30 2010
Format: Paperback
It's neither the best nor worst of Shakespeare's many comedies, but "A Midsummer Night's Dream" definitely holds one honor -- it's the most fantastical of his works. This airy little comedy is filled with fairies, spells, love potions and romantic mixups, with only the bland human lovers making things a little confusing (who's in love with whom again?).

As Athens prepares for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, the fusty Egeus is demanding that his daughter Hermia marry the man he's chosen for her, Demetrius. Her only other options are death or nunhood.

Since she's in love with a young man named Lysander (no, we never learn why her dad hates Lysander), Hermia refuses, and the two of them plot to escape Athens and marry elsewhere. But Helena, a girl who has been kicked to the curb by Demetrius, tips him off about their plans; he chases Hermia and Lysander into the woods, with Helena following him all the way. Are you confused yet?

But on this same night, the fairy king Oberon and his queen Titania are feuding over a little Indian boy. Oberon decides to use a magical "love juice" from a flower to cause some trouble for Titania by making her fall in love with some random weaver named Nick Bottom (whom his henchman Puck has turned into a donkey-headed man). He also decides to have Puck iron out the four lovers' romantic troubles with the same potion. But of course, hijinks ensue.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is another one of Shakespeare's plays that REALLY needs to be seen before it's read. Not only is it meant to be seen rather than read, but the tangle of romantic problems and hijinks are a little difficult to follow... okay, scratch that. They can be VERY difficult to follow, especially if you need to keep the four lovers straight.
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Format: Paperback
I won't tell the whole plot of the play, for then I'll be destroying the mystery. I'll just say a tiny bit of the story so one will get the idea:
1. Hermia and Lysander elope to get married, Demetrius follows them because he desperately loves Hermia and Helena follows Demetrius because he's the man of her dreams. All end up in a forrest.
2. King Oberon and Queen Titania have a fight over a child, and Oberon wants revenge. Plus, he decides to help a certain couple he saw in the forrest.
3. Peter Quince and his play fellows, along with the arrogant and conceited Bottom, are going to perform a play, and they chose to practice in the same forrest.
Bottom line: Puck, Oberon's servant, messes everything up.
What happens? What is the connection made between these 3 groups? Like I said, I'll not tell. ;> All I'm going to tell is that the play is worth a read. Magic, confusion, love, hate, revenge, mischance, proudness, friendship, joy, sadness, everything are all rolled into one (typical by Shakespeare).
So, looking for a good and comic read by Shakespeare? Read this one and enjoy.
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By A Customer on Jan. 5 2001
Format: Paperback
When you are reading the play you feel like in a dream The play both contains romantic and anti-romantic attitudes. William Shakespeare stimulates the imagination of the spectator by fantastic contrasts and the creation of an exotic fairy world. The main theme of the play is the love among different persons". Like there are four groups of persons, there are four different plots which weave together: First, the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, second, the love-adventures of Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, third, the quarrel between Oberon and Titania and last but not least the rehearsals and the performance of Bottom and the Athenian workmen of the play of "Pyramus and Thisby". At the beginning of the play it wasn't very simple to see through the four different plots and the language was sometimes very difficult to understand, but it's nevertheless a nice play you should really know! I think Shakespeare has put a symbolism into that play. The movement of the scenes could mean that the actors leave the real world for a short time, and enter in a dream world, to solve their problems there and come back, when all problems are solved.
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Format: Paperback
This play is tremendously fun, one of the most enjoyable of Shakespeare's plays, (and one of the easiest to read for a modern reader) but like most of his romances, it demonstrates a roughly sixth-grade understanding of romantic love. At least in a comedy, there's some excuse for this, and it's a tradition that certainly hasn't changed in over 400 years (see: "Shallow Hal", for example) but in general, the characters in this play have about the depth and plausibility of, say, the Three Stooges.
Read this play if you're in the mood for lighthearted Shakespearean fluff, but not if you want something with some real meaning to it. This was, in Shakespeare's time, the equivalent of "Three's Company" or "Dharma & Greg". Light entertainment for the masses, not serious literature.
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By A Customer on Sept. 11 1999
Format: Paperback
Okay, so maybe I'm not the world's greatest living expert on Shakespeare, considering the fact that, other than this, I have only read Romeo and Juliet. But hey, I thought it was great. Characters like Bottom and Robin Goodfellow were hilarious. Shakespeare seems to know how to make a tangled mess of everyone's lives very well. It amazes me his power to make that seem funny at times and then seem incredibly sad at others. I have to say, I really enjoyed this comedy better than his tragedy. I'm reading The Taming of The Shrew next. I don't know if I can handle Hamlet or Othello right now. By the way, if you're like me and you need someone to explain Shakespeare's language to you, I highly recommend the New Folger Library Copy with explanations on the opposite page.
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