Biography of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English playwright and poet. He was widely taken as the best author who wrote in the English language, and most people say that he is the world's pre eminent dramatist.Shakespeare is often regarded as the Bard of Avon and England's national poet. Shakespeare’s works, including some the works that he co authored, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs (John Combe), one epitaph (Elias James), and many poems. Many people have translated Shakespeare’s plays into many languages, and this has made these works the most read in the world of literature (Lee 63).
Shakespeare was born and grew in Stratford. He married Anne Hathaway at 18, and he had three children. He began a career as an actor, in London, between 1585 and 1592. At this time he also began to write, and he was a co owner of Lord Chamberlain's Men, a playing company. Shakespeare retired to Stratford at age 49 at around 1613. He died 3 years after retirement. There are very few records that depict Shakespeare’s life, and many historians speculate a lot about Shakespeare’s physical appearance, religion, sexuality and the authorship of his works (Berryman 47).
Shakespeare’s most active writing period ranges between 1589 and 1613. His first works consisted, mainly, of comedies and histories. He raised these genres to the crest of artistry and sophistication by the end of the sixteenth century. He then started writing tragedies until around 1608. These tragedies include famous works like King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello. These works are the best works in English. In his last phase of his writing career, he wrote tragicomedies (romances), and (at this time) he co authored with other artists.
Shakespeare’s plays were printed in editions of different degrees of accuracy and quality during his life. John Heminges and Henry Condell, in 1623, published the First Folio, which was a collected edition of Shakespeare’s dramatic works; it included all of Shakespeare’s works, but it omitted two plays. However, the omitted plays are today known as Shakespeare’s works. Shakespeare’s reputation was not noted during his time, and it rose in the 19th century. In the 20th century, Shakespeare’s work was adopted, repeatedly, and used for scholarship and performance (by new movements). Shakespeare’s plays are very popular. They are constantly performed, reinterpreted and studied in diverse cultural and political contexts all over the world.
Analysis of the Play
This is a romantic play, and the events are merged such that three groups of actors meet, by chance, to determine the course of the play. The Duke of Athens, Theseus, is preparing a marriage, and he has delegated a team of entertainers to come up with a play to entertain people during the wedding. This team goes to the forest to prepare for the performance. In the same section, a noble man named Egeus has a daughter named Hernia, and he wants the daughter to marry Demetrius. However, the daughter refuses since she is in love with Lysander. This angers the father a lot since daughters are expected to marry the men selected by their fathers. Egeus threatens the daughter, and he reports this to the Duke. The Duke is ready preparing for the wedding, and he tells Hernia to follows Egeus’s instructions to avoid getting punishment. However, Hernia and Lysander have other plans, and they escape at night; they intend to get married at another place.
Meanwhile, Helena, Demetriu’s former lover reveals this to Demetrius (Demetrius loves Hernia), and Demetrius follows the couple to the forest. Helena also follows since she loves Demetrius. However, in the forest, the two couples face a lot of things, and they end up loving their prospective lovers. This comes as a result of a love portion that is applied on Lysander’s eyes, and he falls in love with Helena. Demetrius also suffers the same fate, and he falls in love with Helena. The two men even reach to an extent of fighting, but the fairies confuse them; this makes the men not to fight. The fairies reverse this spell of the love portion, and Lysander falls in love with Hernia, and Demetrius falls in love with Helena (Shakespeare 41).
The most prevalent theme in this play is the theme of Love. Most of the conflict in the play is based on romance, and the characters are ready to go to great extents in search of their lovers. The tone of this play is structured to adopt a romantic texture, and the audience is sure that this play, likely, will have a good ending. However, the love in this play still faces a lot of difficulty. This theme is often investigated through the motif that sees love out of balance; romantic instances in which a difference or inequality hinders the harmony of relationships. The main example of this inequity is the irregular love that exists among the four youths: Hernia is in love with Lysander. On the other hand, Helena loves Demetrius; Lysander is in love with Hermia, and Demetrius has deep love for Hernia instead of Helena. This is a simple imbalance where two men love one woman; this leaves one lady with many suitors and one none. The plot is based on a mission for reaching an internal balance; thus, when the lovers’ snarl resolves itself into regular pairings, the time honored happy ending of the play will be achieved. Similarly, in the bond between Oberon and Titania, a disparity arises because Oberon covets Titania’s Indian boy, and this outweighs his adoration for her. Later, Titania’s zeal for the donkey headed Bottom shows an imbalance of nature and appearance: Titania is stunning and elegant, while Bottom is awkward and grotesque.
Another theme prevalent in this play is the theme of Magic. The magic of the fairies brings about many bizarre and hilarious events in the play; this is an element that is central to the incredible ambiance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The author, Shakespeare, uses magic to embody the supernatural influence of love whose symbol is the love potion. He also does this to create a dreamlike world. The misuse of magic, in the play, causes chaos, but when Puck, mistakenly, smears the love potion on the eyelids of Lysander, this magic, ultimately, solves the tensions in the play by restoring love to equilibrium among the four youths. In addition, the simplicity with which Puck utilizes magic to his own ends stands in dissimilarity to the difficulty and clumsiness of the craftsmen’s efforts to stage their play.
The characters employed in this play perform a very significant role in communicating Shakespeare’s themes. These characters are selected to show the conflicts that arise when people are in love. First, Hernia refuses to follow the choice made for her, and she follows the love of her heart, Lysander. Hernias father is selected to show that youths often disagree with elders in matters of love. The four youths whose love triangle makes a significant portion of the plot also form a strong basis for advancing the themes of this play. The four youths are engaged in a battle of love, and each is unable to solve the conflicts brought by love. It takes the intervention of magic to resolve these conflicts. The duke is also selected to advance the complexities of the relationships between the youths and other high authorities. The Duke is preparing the wedding, and he understands the power of love. Therefore, he gives Hernia some more time to think about her decision.
The fairies in the play are embodiments of magic, and they show the magical power of love. They show that love is controlling, and a person can only be happy when s/he gets the person s/he loves. This makes these fairies play a very big role in advancing the plot of this play.
This is a play, and it follows the structure of a play; it is divided in to acts and scenes. Therefore, the conversations in this work portray the real feelings of the actors. In this case, that audience feels a connection with the audience; this is very effective, and the audience shares in the fears and plight of the characters. The style used in this play also allows the audience to witness the simulation of various plots in the play; it recreates the events such that the audience can experience and understand some difficult parts of the play.
Critiques of the Play
Dorothea Kehler says that this play does not reflect Shakespeare’s style. However, this author examines essays that have been written about this play, and, somehow, she agrees that there are some aspects that reflect that Shakespeare influenced, or even wrote this play. Kehler says that Shakespeare was committed to writing tragedies based on romantic ideas, and this play reflects these romantic ideas, but it has a happy ending (Kehler 50). According to Kehler, Shakespeare’s tragedies outgrew other forms of literature, and people came to associate Shakespeare with these tragedies. Thus, some works that do not reflect the ideas of tragedies seem to move away from the style used by Shakespeare.
Jeff Dull also writes a book, and he feels that this work should have ended better in form of a tragedy. He seems to be in agreement with Dorothea Kehler, and the two authors seem o advance some anti Shakespearean sentiments for this play. This book gives a strong opinion of this play, but it seems to be focused on one character, Demetrius. Demetrius is interlocked in love since she loves a woman who does not love back, and another woman dies for his love. This puts Demetrius in a difficult situation. According to Jeff Dull, this is a tragedy, but Shakespeare fails to let it end so. Jeff expounds the character of Demetrius, and he says that Demetrius was faced by a lot of challenges since he was the father’s choice, but the daughter rejected him (Dull 32). Jeff believes that Demetrius was the main character, and Shakespeare was influenced by the target audience to make Demetrius just a character like any other.
Penney focuses on female characters in this play, and he says that Shakespeare makes his women hold an equal place with men. This is because both men and women are in search of love. This play shows people intertwined in a dilemma of love, and men, as well as women, are unable to extricate themselves from this dilemma (Penney 17). This makes both genders vulnerable to the touch of love. According to Penney, women should not be left out in matters of love. This has made many people feel that Penney was an advocate of feminism in literature.