Love, Magic, and Dreams: An analysis of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

An entertaining and humorous read, the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare incorporates a variety of figurative language to demonstrate a number of concepts, ideas, and opinions.

To begin with, Shakespeare skillfully develops the timeless aspect of love. In the very first scene, readers are introduced to Theseus and Hippolyta planning their wedding, as Hippolyta expresses that “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; / Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.7-8). The story of Theseus of Hippolyta is quite unique: at first, Theseus kidnapped and beat Hippolyta in battle. By introducing these enemies-turned-lovers at the beginning of the play, Shakespeare foreshadows love issues and complexes, but also suggests a happy ending. Moments later, readers learn about Hermia and Lysander’s love, despite Hermia’s father Egeus’s desire that Hermia marry Demetrius. Hermia’s friend, Helena, is already in love with Demetrius, but as Helena explains, “The more I love, the more [Demetrius] hateth me” (1.1.204). The play is mostly centralized around the loves of Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander. Love is universal and timeless–someone from ancient Egypt would feel the same butterflies as someone in 2050. The same applies to sadness, betrayal, and jealousy, all of which are prevalent in the play. In Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander, readers understand the timeless complicated and uncontrollable nature of love. Cleverly, Shakespeare further expands on uncontrollability when the fairy king, Oberon, sends Puck to retrieve a flower, whose juice “[w]ill make or man or woman madly dote / Upon the next live creature that it sees” (2.1.177). For the audience, the flower challenges the uncontrollability of love. Demetrius and Lysander are both affected by a simple thing as flower juice, causing them to completely change their views, dispositions, and opinions. Upon analysis, Shakespeare’s incorporation of such a magic flower, which terribly exacerbates the love complex between the characters, represents the irrational, yet consuming aspect of love. 

In addition, magic is a significant element of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and it is not too different from love. Once again, the magical flower is a crucial symbol. Magic is often understood as the ability to do and control virtually arbitrary actions and events. As already discussed, love is a prime example of uncontrollability. With the magic flower, the fairy king and Puck are given greater power over the rest of the characters. They have a greater influence on the events that will ensue in the play. Magic’s influence is further exemplified by Puck, who turns Bottom’s head into a donkey’s head during rehearsal. Unluckily, Titania (who has been spelled with the magic flower) wakes up and instantly falls in love with Puck (3.1.131-164). This situation is especially significant in the theme of magic since it is a magical being herself (Titania, the Fairy Queen) who has fallen under a spell. First of all, the overtaking influence of magic is apparent; moreover, the influence of love is also portrayed. It can be argued that Shakespeare incorporates magic into the play to accentuate its likeness to love. Both magic and love cause troubles, yet they can both completely dominate a person’s actions and way of life.

Finally, the significance of the title  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” must be recognized. Dreams are random, irrational, and absolutely overtake one’s mind, very similarly to love. Moreover, dreams are repeatedly mentioned throughout the play. For example, Hippolyta expresses that “Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.8). Referring to the day of her wedding, Hippolyta uses “dreams” to describe her wait. The word “dreams” has a very positive connotation. In this manner, “dreams” recur to represent fantastic events, situations, and emotions.

Clearly, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” well incorporates figurative language to develop a multitude of themes, lessons, and ideas.

-Ayati M.

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Book Cover, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, 1947 | Objects  | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

A Streetcar Named Desire is a tragic play written by Tennessee Williams. It is centered around Blanche DuBois, a fragile thirty year old woman who is detached from reality. After being fired from her previous job as a schoolteacher and losing her home, Blanche decides to go and stay with her younger sister, Stella Kowalski. Stella Kowalski lives with her Polish husband, Stanley Kowalski, a plain and straightforward man. Despite falling out of touch with her sister, Blanche arrives with her large trunk at the Kowalski household.

The title of this play is very crucial to its message and illustrates its entire plot. In the beginning, Blanche recounts her journey to her sister’s house. First, Blanche rode a streetcar named Desire. Then, she took a a streetcar named Cemeteries, which took her to a street called Elysian Fields. Elysian Fields is the land of the dead in Greek mythology. This entire journey symbolizes Blanche’s life and her fear of death. At first, Blanche allows her sexual desires to overcome her and ruin her life. As a result, she is evicted from her childhood home, and lastly, she is taken to an asylum and ostracized completely from society.

Throughout this entire play, we watch as Blanche DuBois gradually becomes completely out of touch with reality. Because of her adherence to lies, fibs, and illusions, she clashes with Stanley. Stanley is a grounded and vicious man who represents the vital force, the strength which animates all living creatures. Everything that he does, he does with extreme passion; he loves passionately, treats Blanche cruelly, and is extremity loyal to his friends.

In the end, after Blanche’s depressing and indecent past is revealed to Stella and Stanley, they decide to send Blanche to an insane asylum. The final moments of this play are heart wrenching and painful. As a broken, depressed, and insane Blanche pleads for her sister to save her, she is lead to the asylum like a prisoner.

Despite its tragic finale, this play discusses very important themes such as death, illusions, and sexuality. Overall, this was an extremely intriguing and deep play that I would recommend to anyone who does not mind a sad ending and loves to explore complex themes.

-Yvette C.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Why a Met on Demand Subscription is Better Than Any Other Streaming Service

Have you heard of the Met Opera on Demand streaming service?! Let’s be real, probably not. But I know many people who have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to stream from… so I think this is might interest y’all, teens! It’s award-winning, recent, full length, HD performances from the Metropolitan Opera House. And it’s the best thing ever. Stop using Netflix. Cancel that Hulu subscription. Forget your Amazon Prime password. This is all you need in your life right now. Here’s why the Met Opera on Demand is better than any other streaming service.

1. You Can Learn a New Language

Operas are in English, Italian, French, German, and loads more languages! They have subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, and Swedish! Opera is slow and repetitive, so it’s a great way to learn languages! If you’re learning German, for example, it might be useful to have English subtitles on an opera like Die Zauberflöte (which side note is a beautiful production… it’s just so pretty to watch, it’s like watching a moving painting). You’ll understand all the German being sung with the English subtitles, and some new vocab might stick in your brain if it’s being sung in a catchy tune over and over. I think learning a language through song is a great way to learn new vocabulary, and get an ear for the language. “Comic operas” like Die Zauberflöte and Carmen even have spoken dialogue. The opera singers’ pronunciation is amazing when singing and speaking!

2. You Can Learn History

Opera loves to take place in ancient times, and tries to be as authentic to the time period as possible! When learning history, sometimes it’s hard to picture the time period. Watching an opera in the time period you’re learning about really helps you picture what you’re learning. Also, many operas are based on true stories. For example, there are three operas about Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress who mysteriously died in 1730. Or Boris Godunov, an opera about real events in 1584 surrounding a real Russian tsar. Or Doctor Atomic! It’s an opera about the test of the first atomic bomb. And all of these have full HD videos of the performances! There’s so much history to learn with this subscription.

3. You Can Learn About Books

Reading Shakespeare in school and struggling to picture the action? Well, Met on Demand has you covered! HamletMacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more are full-length operas that come with this subscription!

Der Ring des Nibelungen (although Tolkein denies it) is the basis for The Lord of the Rings. Don’t believe me?! Watch it on Met on Demand to see the shocking similarities.

The opera Marnie is based on the book that inspired the Hitchcock classic of the same name. (the 60s movie where the lady gets stabbed in the shower to strings going EEK EEK EEK).

There is also audio of operas based on The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy, which are books titled of the same name.

If you look up the operas on the website, I’m sure you can find more book-related stuff.

4. It’s Relaxing

The Met’s performances are beautiful. The performances are visually dazzling, and the singing is world-renowned. It’s a nice thing to just have on quietly in the background. If the stunning video is too much, there are recordings dating back

-Jessica F.

Book Review: The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill

Hairy Ape - Kindle edition by O'Neill, Eugene. Literature ...

The Hairy Ape is a classic drama of realism, expressionism and symbolism created by Nobel laureate Eugene O ‘Neill in 1921. The play consists of eight scenes. The work depicts in great detail the psychological process of people at the bottom of society from being happy and blindly optimistic to realizing their pathetic status in the society, reflecting the confusion and pain of laborers who lose their affiliation and find no way out in modern society with rapid industrial development. The author makes extensive use of expressionist dramatic techniques, such as the stream of consciousness, monologue, stage externalization of characters’ inner activities, non-line director’s instructions, etc. It is the foundation work of modern American drama.

The Hairy Ape describes the life of a seafaring worker. On a mail ship crossing the Atlantic, the firemen lived in the crowded forecastle. They were poor, irascible and eccentric. Yank the stoker was the most authoritative of them all. He had no family, no parents, no wife, no children, no relatives or friends. He lived in poverty and worked hard, but he did not worry about unemployment. He was uneducated, simple-minded, and confident in life. He did not feel at the bottom of society at all. He was always at ease, thinking that he was the foundation of the world and represented everything. His partners Paddy and Long disagreed. One day Miss. Mildred the capitalist came on board and called him a dirty beast. Yank’s pride had been hurt, and he was determined to take his revenge. After that, he unleashed his hatred by fighting in the street against a wealthy gentry, and was put in prison by the police. After he gets out, Yank tries to blow up Mildred’s father’s steel company but fails. After several rebuffs, he went to the zoo in great frustration, and poured out his heart to an ape in the cage. He opened the iron door and let the ape out. When he wanted to take revenge with him, the ape grabbed him, broke his ribs, and threw him into a cage. Inside the cage, Yank stood up painfully, looked around in bewilderment, and collapsed like a heap of flesh.

The big mail ship in The Hairy Ape symbolizes both modern life and ancient savage life. The play aims to explore the value of human survival, that is, to explore how people can be regarded as human beings, or how the contradiction between individuals and society can be resolved. The protagonist Yank is a symbol of modern people; he can not find a way out in modern life and wants to go back. But he couldn’t have gone back to his primitive life because he was a modern man after all and couldn’t have lived with a gorilla. In the author’s opinion, modern society makes people lose the essence of human being and makes people lose the universality of nature. In order to survive, people have to seek this kind of consistency. But when they have found it, they are of no avail but perish. The Hairy Ape reveals this embarrassing dilemma of modern people. The image of cages everywhere in the play is a symbol of this dilemma, and it also shows the author’s pessimistic mood about the future of human beings.

-Coreen C.

Theatre Review: She Kills Monsters

*Warning: This play may not be appropriate to those under age 13 

Recently, my friend and I went to go watch a school play called She Kills Monsters. The play focused around the wildly popular and loved game called Dungeons and Dragons. The play would switch back and forth between “real life” and the game. 

The story was that the main character, Agnes, had lost her younger sister Tilly to a car accident. Before passing, Tilly created her own version of the game in order to escape the harsh and cruelty of the real world. Agnes, still mourning the loss of her sister, finds Tilly’s game and through the help from “dungeon master” Chuck, is able to play the game. 

The game was essentially a version of Tilly’s life told through monsters and different characters that was a part of Tilly’s life, whether they had a positive impact or not. Through the game, Agnes was able to find solace from the loss and was able to find out some secrets about Tilly’s life that she did not know before. The story is filled with action, humor, angst, and some surprising romances that the audience does not see coming. 

Even though I personally have never played Dungeons and Dragons, I loved the play so much and had an amazing time watching so there is no issue if you do not know anything about the game. However, if you do know how to play, it will probably be even more enjoyable than it already is! 

If this play is showing anywhere around you I totally recommend going and watching this! However, as stated in the warning above, some topics in this play might not completely be appropriate to those under 13 years of age so take precautions and enjoy the show! 

-Phoebe L

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I read this play last year and had my own thoughts on there. I did like the characters despite their overdramatic characteristics. Moreover, the plot was generally not tedious and did offer some twists which I like such as Juliet faking her death and Romeo not receiving the letter explaining all of it in time.

Through this play, I also learned how family feud can lead to very bad results. If both families would just allow this pair of young lovers to unite then nothing of this sort would have occurred at all. It also shows how distant and nonchalant are parents toward the psychological activities of their children. All they possibly think about is the reputation of their standing in society and who they think upon marrying their child with will bring them the most benefit. Nonetheless, I was touched by the avid love between Romeo and Juliet and how they were willing to sacrifice everything for each other’s sake.

One of the other things that I find interesting is the duel scenes. Originally, Tybalt might not have hated Mercutio and Romeo so much if it wasn’t for the fact that they are rival families. So again the theme of family feud plays a part where blinded hatred caused the two to break the probable peace between them since Romeo and Juliet were already married. So overall, my opinion on this play is that although it can be overdramatic and a little unrealistic in our life, it teaches the fact that parents should give enough attention to their children to prevent any suicidal thoughts.

-Coreen C.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Hamilton: An American Musical

Mostly everyone has heard of the musical that has swept theatre geeks off their feet when it first came out in 2015. Yes, I’m talking about Hamilton. If you don’t love it, you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t heard of it… you’ve come to the right blog.

Hamilton: An American Musical was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who has had experience in writing a musical with In The Heights. He co-wrote the songs from Disney’s Moana. But, Lin-Manuel Miranda is most popular for writing Hamilton.

Hamilton is a perfect combination of spunky, fast-moving rap, and slow, sweet, and sad melodies. I’ve listened to the music over and over, until it’s been ingrained into my memory, like the true geek I am. Unfortunately, this means I have physically lost the power to cry over ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’. Now, listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and watching the musical are two very different things. I had the privilege to go see it at Segerstrom Theater. I think when we entered the waiting room to buy tickets online, it was the most stressful 43 minutes of my theatre life. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve had to wait a week to get my part in multiple musicals. When I was watching Hamilton, it was different from listening, partially because it wasn’t the original cast (I wish it was!), and of course they sounded different. But, watching the actors pour their souls into the life of a man who lived centuries ago.

If you were to ask me who my favorite character was, or who stole the show, I wouldn’t say Angelica, Eliza, or even Peggy (although she was amazing). King George was a showstopper. Though he stood in one place for the remainder of his songs, something about him, singing about death, completely calm, just made everyone laugh. In the beginning, he stood calmly, but in the second half of the show, King George, just like in real life, started to go mad. His eyes were wild, and his laugh maniacal. He completely stole the show, in my opinion.

Hamilton: An American Musical, is something me and my theater friends bond over. Before rehearsals, we could be heard singing Farmers Refuted, or Cabinet Battle #1. Hamilton is the perfect mix for anyone, whether you like rap, or slow, sweet songs, it has it all.

-Sophia D.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

You’ve all heard about this book/play before, and if you haven’t read it yet, sooner or later your teacher will make you read this word-famous play. But don’t dread reading this wonderful work of art. Despite the fact that it’s written in an archaic language and set in a rather alien world, it still remains very relevant today, which is why people are still reading and discussing it to this very day.Image result for romeo and juliet

Romeo and Juliet, as you probably know, is the story of two star-crossed lovers who come from two noble families of Verona, Italy that have had a vendetta for so long that nobody remembers why anymore— and since this is 13th century Italy, and the Renaissance only just started, it’s quite a medieval world, where people often died before 40 and marriage for girls at around 13 was quite common in that part of the world. Romeo is a Montague, which means that his parents are nobles but not as rich as the Capulets, Juliet’s family. What they do have, however, is genuine love, while the Capulets have more than enough family drama to go around. Romeo is passionate and a very eligible bachelor, but also rather impulsive and melodramatic. Juliet is quite smart and beautiful, but has been taught to be passive and agree with her parents her entire life, not thinking for herself. Romeo is “recovering” from being rejected by Rosaline, who was “the love of his life” and “brighter than the sun”, before he spies Juliet at a Capulet masquerade and forgets all about Rosaline. Later that night, Juliet and Romeo confess their love for each other and vow to get married. As you can see, it really is divine love at first sight.

Unfortunately for these two, they have to keep their affair a secret from everybody but the ones they know they can trust. Romeo and Juliet get married not even a day after they first met. But an unfortunate twist of fate leads to Romeo exiled and Juliet’s father forcing her to marry the noble but extremely uninteresting Count Paris, not knowing that she is already the wife of Romeo. Juliet takes great risks to avoid having to marry Count Paris, fooling her parents into thinking that she is dead by drinking a potion, and the plan almost works out, but due to a misunderstanding and an undelivered message, Romeo believes that she is dead, and ends up killing himself. Juliet awakens from her comatose state and sees Romeo’s corpse, and then kills herself too, before the two families arrive at the scene and finally end their feud.

While this story would be more disturbing than sweet if it took place today (a 13-year old and 17-year old getting married hardly a day after they first met, then killing themselves?), it is still very much a very well-written romantic story, and not for nothing is it known to practically all of the literate world. Definitely read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and watch one of the many movie adaptations also to see it played out.

-Michael Z.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

DeathOfASalesman.jpg

Have you ever thought about the future- what you plan to be and how you plan to get there? Well, unfortunately, this book puts a sad twist to the future and paints it in a gloomy way.

Willy Loman, your typical, average man, is down on his luck. He isn’t getting enough salary even though he has been with his company for 35 years, despite his brother in law being in a different company for the same length of time, and somehow is so much richer than him. While his son hates him, Willy sometimes blames it on his son’s laziness, and the other times the fact that his son is working too hard and doesn’t know what he wants.

So what does he do? Well, he’s a traveling salesman, so he sells the only thing he has left. Guess.

There are a couple of things to note about this novel. First, it’s a play, so the dialogue is easy to stand out, and one can know who’s talking. And thankfully, unlike Shakespeare’s plays, this play is only two acts long, which was just over a hundred pages in the copy I had, so it was easy to read.

Second, the theme. I won’t even talk about the fact that the author considers the American Dream fading, or even his interpretation of capitalism. No, I will instead talk about the other characters. Willy’s wife, Linda Loman, is down on her luck too, as although she gives Willy everything, including her undying loyalty no matter what he does, he still treats her without love. The son that hates Willy, Biff, is just a man like us teenagers (except he’s 34) that tries to talk to Willy, but gives up because Willy wouldn’t listen to him. And Willy’s second son, who is often forgotten about by Willy, has to face abandonment issues not only from his father, but from his mother too, in which not even him saying that he was getting married made them happy.

Overall, Miller claims that we all know a Willy Loman, and although his story ends in tragedy, it does not have to be this way for us.

-Megan V, 12th grade

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library