Thursday, July 18, 2019

Essay --

Introduction Considered to be the greatest playwright to ever have lived, William Shakespeare’s works continue to fascinate and entrance audiences around the world. Imbued with imagery, his comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps one of his more fantastic but none the less intricate plays. Presiding over the proceedings, the moon is the uniting feature of the play. With its multi-layered symbolism it is the thread that connects the different characters and weaves the tale together. 1. The Keeper of Time Upon its first mention the moon is used as a marker for the passage of time. In the opening lines of the play Theseus, the duke of Athens, laments to his fiancà ©e Hippolyta that time is passing too slow and blames this on the moon: THESEUS: Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour Draws on apace; four happy days bring in Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires, Like to a step-dame or a dowager Long withering out a young man’s revenue. (1.1.1-4 (Shakespeare and Brooks)) The old moon keeps Theseus waiting for his wedding night with Hippolyta, on the new moon. Theseus compares the old moon to an older woman, which stepmothers or a dowager usually are, and accuses her of keeping from him what is his to have, Hippolyta and their wedding night, like old widows might keep an inheritance from a young man. 2. The Moon Goddess Unlike the impatient Theseus, who mourns the dark moon, Hippolyta sees the moon as a symbol of Cupid and his arrows, which unite lovers: HIPPOLYTA: four nights will quickly steep themselves in night; Four nights will quickly dream away the time; And then the moon, like a silver bow New bent in heaven, shall behold the night Of our solemnity. (1.1.6-11 (Shakespeare and ... ...moon, therefore creating the image of the ‘Man in the Moon’: STARVELING: This lantern doth the horned moon present; Myself the Man i’th’ Moon do seem to be. (5.1.235-236 (Shakespeare and Brooks)) Thus the moon takes on another more comical and amusing role in contrast to the darker, more serious roles it holds towards the other groups. Conclusion Returning to the introduction, the moon is not only ever present, it actively influences the proceedings throughout the play, not only connecting characters, but also giving them agency for their actions. Shakespeare once again displays his dexterity with imagery through his manifold portrayals of the moon; one moment merely the indicator of time, the next a symbol of the goddess Diana, at once a symbol of order and chaos, of happiness and discord, fertility and chastity, it encompasses all that transpires on the stage.

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