Thursday, 14 January 2010

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Summary: Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius.

Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy.

The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny.

Yes, it's a play - really, this is the first play I've read on my own for fun. I read plays in school and I own The Crucible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare but I've never just decided to read a play for the fun of it but I bought Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Nights Dream and decided to change that.

[Note: The Complete Works of Shakespeare is a massive book and not very good for just reading, it's fine for referencing but it's awkward and annoying to try and read a whole play from it - which is why I've started buying individual copies of his plays]

Anyway, onto the review.

I've always loved Shakespeares stories and he is very poetic but this is the first time I've read an entire one of his plays -- quotes, essays, descriptions, summaries, I've read all of those so I'm familiar with the stories and his style but I always thought it might be a bit of a drag to read one of his plays because of the language he uses.

I was wrong though, after the first few pages you get used to it and can appreciate his way with words and his humour. I actually finished it pretty quickly, about two hours (with distractions, lots of distractions - word of advice, don't read Shakespeare while babysitting, just don't).

As for the story itself, A Midsummer Nights Dream has always been one of the Shakespeare plays I liked best - I like Helena's character best, she's actually quite relatable for a lot of girls, I mean ever loved a guy who didn't love you back? Ever loved a guy who liked your friend instead? At one point or another it's sure to happen at least once in every girls life.

My favourite part:

I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.


O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!


I give him curses, yet he gives me love.


O that my prayers could such affection move!


The more I hate, the more he follows me.


The more I love, the more he hateth me.


His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.


None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!
Some of the parts of the story were a little slower and less interesting than others, like the parts with the actors rehearsing the play (a play within a play, awesome) but the Helena/Demetrius/Lysander/Hermia love square was awesome and the parts with the fairies actually managed to make me laugh out loud sometimes.

If you're not familiar with the story and you're not really up for reading Shakespeare then check out the movie Get Over It, it's a modern retelling of the play (kind of like the same way 10 Things I Hate About You, O and She's The Man are all putting a modern spin on the stories) or I'm sure there's some more traditional movie versions (I just haven't seen them yet to recommend them).

I think everyone should read at least one Shakespeare play in their lifetime--for fun, not because they're forced by a teacher--just to see what all the fuss is about, reading it on your own is different from reading it in a class because you're not over analysing it and picking the story apart or critically reading it when you read it on your own.

Sorry if this review is a little scattered, what I'm basically trying to say is that I liked it and Shakespeare definitely earned his literary legend status.


P.s. Here is the trailer for Get Over It, for anyone that is interested/hasn't seen it before (it's a really funny and sweet movie).


  1. This is the first time I've read a review on classic like Shakespeare! The conversation between Helena and Hermia is a little confusing, I don't understand the language, but I understand some of it.... I don't think I'm ready for Shakespeare!

  2. Shakespeare used to plague my existence back in high school, but I love it now! Great review :)

  3. Translation of the Helena and Hermia scene:

    Hermia: I hate him and give him disapproving looks all the time but he still wants me.

    Helena: My smiles could learn a few things from your evil looks then.

    Hermia: I insult him/curse him but he still loves me.

    Helena: I wish that my being nice to him could recieve such affection.

    Hermia: The more I hate him, the more he pursues and loves me.

    Helena: The more I love him, the more he hates me.

    Hermia: It's not my fault that he loves me, I don't encourage it or want it.

    Helena: No it's not your fault, the only thing that is, is your beauty - I wish I had that fault, maybe then he would love me instead.

    I fail at translating, but that's the gist of it - Hermia is saying that she doesn't want or like Demetrius and Helena is saying she loves him and wishes she could be more like Hermia so he would love her too. =P

  4. A classic that is always a wonderful read!




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