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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,526 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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By southpaw68 on April 2 2003
Format: Paperback
On the first read, I thought this was really silly stuff, but on the second read I thought it had some of Shakespheare's best romantic poetry in it.
This story contains yet another authoritarian father of Shakespheare's creation, Egeus, telling his daughter Hermia who she will marry (Demetrius) and not marry (Lysander). There is also her sister Helena who is in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius does not love her. Enter the fairies, mainly Oberon and his servant Puck who muck things up further by enchanting Lysander and Demetrius into falling in love with Helena instead of their previous darling girl Hermia. Tension ensues as Helena thinks that she is being mocked and Hermia thinks that Helena has stolen away her men. Puck and the fairies eventually right things by enchanting Demetrius to match up with Hermia and Lysander with Helena.
There is a subplot with working class rustics who try to put on a play of Pyramus and Thisbe, two lovers that die tragically. (Imagine construction workers putting on a romantic play, for modern day comparison.) The leader Snug and his company of Bottom, Quince, Flute, Snout, and Starveling prepare a play at night in the woods and the mischievous fairy Puck attaches a donkey's posterior to Bottom's head and makes the queen fairy Titania fall in love with him and his fine feature. Eventually, Puck reverses this predicament before the night is over.
Bottom and company put on the play in the last act for the nobles of city who are Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his company of the soon to be married nobles Demetrius and Hermia and Lysander and Helena, among others. The play is so bad it's comical. The usual tragic romantic deaths in plays like Romeo and Juliet are parodied in this act.
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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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