By William Shakespeare
From the hilarious mischief of the elf Puck to the tough humor of the self-centered backside and his fellow gamers, from the palace of Theseus in Athens to the magic wooden the place fairies play, Shakespeare’s awesome A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play of attraction and an insightful portrait of the predicaments of affection.
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Extra info for A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Annotated Shakespeare)
Let me conclude with Puck. Known also as Robin Goodfellow, he was in popular legend not always kind, and often rather malicious. He was in fact not so much a fairy (the categories fade into one another) as a goblin, and goblins were notoriously unpleasant. Shakespeare somewhat softens Puck’s image—but not entirely: I am that merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon and make him smile When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a ﬁlly foal, And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl In very likeness of a roasted crab, xxxv introduction And when she drinks, against her lips I bob, And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
Sickness207 is catching. O were favor208 so, Yours would I catch,209 fair Hermia, ere I go. My ear should 210 catch your voice, my eye your eye, My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody. 212 198 ﬁxed/arranged/prescribed/decreed for 199 faithfully, trustworthily* 200 your promise 201 God speed ϭ may God make things be well with you (a conventionally polite greeting or farewell) 202 are you going 203 lode stars ϭ stars that show the way 204 breath, voice 205 melodious, harmonious, sweet-sounding 206 to a 207 (here, the sickness is love distress) 208 liking, preference* 209 (First Quarto: Your words I catch; Second Folio (1632): Your words I’d catch;“yours would” is a common editorial emendation) 210 would 211 taken away, subtracted 212 conveyed, transferred 15 180 185 190 act 1 195 200 205 210 • scene 1 O teach me how you look,213 and with what art214 You sway215 the motion of Demetrius’ heart.
43 – 57) Puck is, in a sense, the fairy-realm counterpart of Bottom: lively, forceful, self-absorbed, and rather crude. He is Oberon’s jester, and does his job, on the whole, very well—though like Bottom he is demonstrably not infallible. Ariel, in The Tempest, is indeed a light-spirited fairy, but Puck has more than a little of the earthly about him. His roots are in the peasant wit of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, not the fastidious tracery-work of Sir Philip Sidney, much less the elaborate Platonisms of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen.
A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Annotated Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare