Monday, September 10, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends

What I'm really wondering as we come to the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is how we should tie up all the loose ends in the play. As professor Mulready pointed out during class on Friday, the play seems to culminate at the end of act four, but in fact it goes on for another act. When I read act five I was expecting to see some more twists in the story but for some reason I didn’t really see any. When the act begins the three couples are happily married and enjoying their wedding night with some festivities. They look forward to a play, choose one, and watch it. The plot is so simple it’s almost confusing. I mean, what happened to all the conflicts? It’s as if nothing ever happened and they were in love like that from the start.
So here are a few things that confuse me. The couples, although they seem to remember what happened the night that they were affected by fairy magic seem to only remember it as if it was a dream, but they do not dwell on it at all, and this confuses me. With the amount of anguish and anger felt that night with such drama that Hermia claims she “can no further crawl” (3.3, 30), how can Shakespeare not follow up with the girls’ relationship at least or even the couples’ dynamic now that they know they can be turned on one another with the slightest of touches by the fairies? More importantly, how can he not follow up on Titania’s strife with Oberon?  I mean, we can excuse the humans from not questioning their situation as they can conceivably be described as mechanistic, but the fairies are the ones with the power here and Titania is one of them. Surely she recognized that she was put under a spell and now yearns for her changeling back?
Really the only answer to these questions of mine, that I can think of, lies within the conversation that Theseus has with Hippolyta at the very beginning of act five. He says that “lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends” (5.1, 4-6). So I wonder, is Shakespeare trying to show us that “love blinds us”?  It seems as if love throughout the play has broken down some of the strongest walls, the relationship between father and daughter, and the relationship between friends “warbling of one song” (3.2, 207). In the play within the play it even takes the lovers’ lives. Is he trying to tell us that though we don’t realize it, that it is love not law or the supernatural that rules us all? I wonder.


Sam Montagna said...

I agree with you. I am not a fan of the couples just watching the play and laughing at the actors like nothing ever happened. I also want to know what happened between Oberon and Titania after she found out that he has the changeling. Also, Hermia and Helena do not even speak during Act V. I want to know how they feel at the end of the story. I can offer one explanation as to why nobody dwells on the fairy magic and anguish that they felt. If they were, in fact, dreaming or the whole story is like a dream, then it would be crazy to dwell on a dream. Everyone has had good dreams and nightmares and once the morning comes, the dream is over. It doesn't dictate our lives or cause us any mental or physical harm so it is easy to move on with our day and lives. The characters in the play could be acting the same way and choosing not to let their "dream" emotions bother them.

Krystal Haight said...

Samantha, I find your post incredibly interesting. I also find it odd that the couples do not dwell on the fact that they all experience a similar "dream." Why do they dismiss it so easily? How can they simply forget it even happened? If I was one of the characters, I would be determined to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of it! You also bring up a good point regarding the changeling. After reading Act IV, I wondered whether or not Titania would want it back, too. I am shocked that she does not realize the boy is gone in Act V. Perhaps she is still under some sort of spell? I simply cannot understand how she suddenly has such a disinterest in the boy. This changeling was the source of conflict in the beginning, and has no significance in the end. Maybe Titania is so preoccupied with all of the marriage celebrations in Act V that she does not have a chance to realize the boy is out of her possession!

Nicole Belladone said...

I agree with you as well. I feel like there was so much drama, fighting and confusion going on, and then to just end the play as Shakespeare did, as if the drama was just over and everyone was happily ever after, was strange. I do believe that this was Shakespeare's way of teaching his audience that the imagination is actually full of endless possibilities, and that no matter what happens in the play, or actual life, anything could happen in the end. Everything seems to be based on a dream or multiple dreams, and Shakespeare relates these illusions or visions to real life. I think that he is trying to convey to his audience that these loose ends don't need to be tied up, and that no matter what happens in the end or how people feel, life goes on and imagination leads the way.