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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare
Fully annotated, with an Introduction, by Burton Raffel
With an essay by Harold Bloom
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    Book Description:

    From the hilarious mischief of the elf Puck to the rough humor of the self-centered Bottom and his fellow players, from the palace of Theseus in Athens to the magic wood where fairies play, Shakespeare's marvelousA Midsummer Night's Dreamis a play of enchantment and an insightful portrait of the predicaments of love.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16482-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxxvi)

    There has never been much question thatA Midsummer Night’s Dreamis delightful. Probably written and first performed in 1595, though we have no clear proof of either dating, it is usually viewed from two main perspectives: first, as an examination of the nature and intensity of the rare and often exalted delight it gives us, and second, as a kind of turning point in the overall development of Shakespeare as a dramatist. These are accurate and useful approaches. Yet I do not think an analysis ofDream’s many delights, in particular, takes us anything like as far as we...

    (pp. xxxvii-xl)
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    • Act 1
      (pp. 3-26)

      TheseusNow fair³ Hippolyta, our nuptial hour⁴

      Draws on apace.⁵ Four happy days⁶ bring in

      Another moon.⁷ But O, methinks,⁸ how slow

      This old moon wanes!⁹ She lingers10my desires,

      Like to a stepdame11or a dowager12

      Long withering out13a young man’s revenue.14

      HippolytaFour days will quickly steep15themselves in night,

      Four nights will quickly dream away the time,

      And then the moon, like to a silver bow

      New bent in heaven,16shall behold the night

      Of our solemnities.17

      TheseusGo, Philostrate,

      Stir up18the Athenian youth to merriments,

      Awake the pert and nimble19spirit of mirth,


    • Act 2
      (pp. 27-54)

      PuckHow now, spirit! Whither wander you?

      FairyOver hill, over dale,¹

      Thorough² bush, thorough brier,

      Over park,³ over pale,⁴

      Thorough flood,⁵ thorough fire.⁶

      I do wander everywhere,

      Swifter than the moon’s sphere.⁷

      And I serve the fairy queen,

      To dew⁸ her orbs⁹ upon the green.10

      The cowslips11tall her pensioners12be,

      In their gold coats spots you see.13

      Those be rubies, fairy favors.14

      In those freckles live15their savors.16

      I must go seek some dewdrops here,

      And hang a pearl17in every cowslip’s ear.

      Farewell, thou lob18of spirits. I’ll be gone.

      Our queen and all our elves come...

    • Act 3
      (pp. 55-94)

      BottomAre we all met?¹

      QuincePat,² pat. And here’s a marvelous³ convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake⁴ our tiring house,⁵ and we will do it in action, as we will do it before the Duke.

      BottomPeter Quince?

      QuinceWhat sayest thou,⁶ bully⁷ Bottom?

      BottomThere are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?

      SnoutBy’r lakin,⁸ a parlous⁹ fear.

      StarvelingI believe we must leave the...

    • Act 4
      (pp. 95-110)

      TitaniaCome sit thee down upon this flowery bed,

      While I thy amiable¹ cheeks do coy,²

      And stick musk roses in thy sleek³ smooth head,

      And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.⁴

      BottomWhere’s Peaseblossom?


      BottomScratch my head, Peaseblossom. Where’s

      Mounsieur Cobweb?


      BottomMounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humblebee⁵ on the top of a thistle.⁶ And good mounsieur, bring me the honey bag.⁷ Do not fret yourself too much in the action,⁸ mounsieur. And good mounsieur, have a care the honey bag...

    • Act 5
      (pp. 111-136)

      Hippolyta’Tis strange my Theseus, that¹ these lovers speak of.

      TheseusMore strange than true. I never may² believe

      These antique fables,³ nor these fairy toys.⁴

      Lovers and madmen have such seething⁵ brains,

      Such shaping⁶ fantasies, that apprehend⁷

      More than cool reason ever comprehends.

      The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

      Are of imagination all compact.⁸

      One sees more devils than vast hell can hold:

      That is the madman. The lover, all⁹ as frantic,10

      Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.11

      The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy,12rolling,

      Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven....

    (pp. 137-164)

    In the midst of the winter of 1595–96, Shakespeare visualized an ideal summer, and he composedA Midsummer Night’s Dream, probably on commission for a noble marriage, where first it was played. He had writtenRichard IIandRomeo and Julietduring 1595; just ahead would comeThe Merchant of Veniceand Fallstaff’s advent inHenry IV, Part One. Nothing by Shakespeare beforeA Midsummer Night’s Dreamis its equal, and in some respects nothing by him afterward surpasses it. It is his first undoubted masterwork, without flaw, and one of his dozen or so plays of overwhelming originality...

    (pp. 165-170)
    (pp. 171-173)