By Harold Bloom, Janyce Marson
Introducing the Harold Bloom Shakespeare versions from Riverhead
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Additional resources for A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bloom's Shakespeare Through the Ages)
Although such a father/daughter power struggle can have tragic consequences, as it does in Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and Othello, for example, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream it is the spur for a comic plot. ” In Act I, scene 1, line 96, Egeus reasserts his right of possession after Hermia has assured him and Theseus of her defiance. ” The tangles of the forest plot reveal that such confidence in one’s own power of possession and determination is misplaced, as does the story of Pyramus and Thisby and the struggle between Oberon and Titania for the orphan boy.
In the next century, Thomas Percy would discuss the “Goblin” in the poem, which is similar to Shakespeare’s Robin Goodfellow, or Puck. The well-known diarist Samuel Pepys briefly mentioned seeing an adaptation of the play in his Diary entry for September 29, 1662. He declares it trite and utterly absurd, though he admits that the beautiful pageantry and attractive women were much to his liking. A very different, semioperatic adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, titled The Fairy Queen, was produced in 1692.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover and the poet Are of imagination all compact: One sees more devils than vast hell can hold, That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic, Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt: The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.