A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Page 7 of 9   -   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   Purchase full notes for £4.95 (aprox $7.72)


116 ‘some private schooling’ – The audience assume that Theseus will try to get these two to behave more reasonably.

118 ‘fit your fancies’ – Theseus shows in this line his contempt for the irrational and imaginative. The word ‘fancies’ means the same as ‘fantasies’ at this time.

120 ‘(Which by no means we may extenuate)’ – Affirms that Egeus has a legal right which even the duke may not infringe. It implies some sympathy for Hermia’s plight however.

127 Exeunt. Manent Lysander and Hermia. – it is perhaps unlikely that Egeus and Demetrius would be prepared to leave these two alone!

129/31 ‘roses’ and ‘tempests’ – typical romantic imagery.

134 ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’ – emphasises the irrational nature of love as well as the sense that ‘true love’ must be tested by fate. It may join people across barriers of social class, difference in age, the choice of relatives.

135-40 Here the lovers speak a line in turn, a device called stichomythia, borrowed by the Elizabethans from classical drama. It is an elaborate ornament used here to heighten the romance, but this sort of embellishment, like the use of rhyme, is only employed in Shakespeare’s early plays. Later on, he developed a more naturalistic style.

143-4 ‘momentary as a sound,/Swift as a shadow, short as any dream’ – love is associated with intangible dream-like things.

145 ‘collied night’ = ‘coal-black’. Typically unusual Shakespearean diction.

146 ‘spleen’ – the seat of sudden impulsive feelings and actions – like love which can strike like lightning.

149 ‘So quick bright things come to confusion’ – this seems to be the message of the play so far, though, in fact, love, fruitfulness and youth are triumphant at the end. Shakespeare uses three stresses in a row – ‘quick bright things’ – and employs assonance on the i sound to give a light and vivacious sense to the words.

154 ‘As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs’ – love is again associated with dreams.

167 ‘To do observance to a morn of May)’ – it is easy to underestimate the scale and importance of May Day observances to Shakespeare’s audience.

previous     next
Purchase full notes for £4.95 (aprox $7.72)

William Shakespeare