Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Power of Art and Beleif in Self in Act V

In Act V we finally get the performance of the "play within a play." Bottom and his fellow actors put on their show for Theseus and the other happy couples. What I find interesting in this act is what Shakespeare seems to be saying about the power of art and self-belief.
It is first implied that perception of self is important when Theseus makes the comment, "If we imagine no worse of them that they of them-/ selves, they may pass for excellent men," while speaking of the actors (211-212). The actors are simple-minded, and therefore are unable to see the foolish things about themselves that the others make fun of. Because of this, the actors are happy and content, believing that they are putting on a show of high quality for their viewers.We can see here that the extend to which one believes in himself can be powerful.
Shakespeare also shows this idea again, this time in relation to the power of art, in Snugs small speech about the lion. In this part of the play, Snug proceeds to let the audience know that he is simply wearing a costume and that the women have nothing to fear, because the lion is not real. The fact that the actors felt the need to include this in their play shows how passionately they believe in art's power and their own power to convey it. They believe that art has the ability to make people believe things that are not real, and temporarily draw the audience in and make them feel things, such as fear, from watching a play. They see themselves as having mastered this art, and therefore needing to reassure their audience.
I believe that Shakespeare must have chosen to make the actors foolish and simple-minded characters in order to really call attention to the importance of what I've mentioned here. They do not have the same perception of themselves that the audience has of them, and yet it is their own perception that proves to be the most important.


Hannah Hoffman said...

I agree with you when you mention the artisans or "rude mechanicals" showing their passion for acting and informing their audience and engaging there interest into the play telling them "not to fear." .
I also agree with you about how Shakespeare chose to create these actors as simple -minded , and foolish to really see how the audience sees them . Also how the actors truly see themselves inside which matters most.

Joshua Briggs said...

I think in the context of the play, the ignorance of the characters is important to what Shakespeare appears to be trying to say. These are simple minded people for a reason. It seems Shakespeare is taking the point of the audience and elevating his own works at the expense of junior contemporaries. Shakespeare seems to be trying to elevate himself above the rabble.

Kaitlyn Schleicher said...

I think this is an interesting and positive view of the mechanicals. While the court makes fun of them, I agree with your view that the players don't seem to notice or even care, for that matter. While I'm not sure that the mechanicals have such a high view of art like you are suggesting (they seem to see doing the play as a way to climb the social ladder), it is an interesting idea to ponder and a lovely thought.