Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Midsummer's Nightmare (Act 1, Scene 2)

Act 1, Scene 2 is, according to the footnotes, set in the 'town' of Athens. Please let that load in your head.

If you didn't notice a problem, you need to pay attention in Geography and History class.

Moving on, the main characters are Mechanicals, aka 'random lower class people', according to my teacher. That sounds a bit rude to me, but if it's the model answer, never mind. The downside is that they don't speak in fancy verse like the nobles did, so it's a lot less classy.

In my opinion, the Mechanicals are the Jar Jar Binks of Midsummer Night's Dream. Their sole purpose is comic relief, and not even decent comic relief. Ah well. In any case, they're going to put on a play for Theseus and Hippie's wedding! Yay!

Actually, not-yay, because the Mechanicals are pretty bad actors and the entire Act 5 consists more or less of their play. Sad.

Here's an analysis question my teacher put forth in class:
What is ironic about the fact that the Mechanicals are performing the play of Pyramus and Thisbe (something akin to Romeo and Juliet), as in Ovid's Metamorphses?
My answer: Well, it's sort of funny that Shakespeare plagiarized, is famous for something he plagiarized, and more or less confesses he plagiarized in his plagiarized work.

The teacher was sort of confused at how to respond. She made the colossal mistake of taking me somewhat seriously and asked, "Well, so who was Ovid?"

"The guy Shakespeare plagiarized," a classmate and I answered simultaneously.

Muahahahahahaha.

Moving on. Peter Quince, one of the Mechanicals, starts listing out what parts everyone will do. Bottom, the guy who ends up with an ass on his head (not in that way, of course), is playing Pyramus Pyramid. He asks if it is a lover or a tyrant. The actual answer is a lover, but 'Tyrant of the Pyramid' has a certain ring to it. Wonder if there'll be mummies?

As for the rest, Flute will be playing Thisbe, Starveling will be Thisbe's mum, Quince Pyramid's dad, and Snug will roar like a lion. He can't roar too loudly, though, or he'll scare the ladies and the Mechanicals will be hanged, "every mother's son". That could actually translate to "son of a *****", which is amusing. (Credits to my classmate — yes, the one I mentioned earlier — for pointing it out.)

Bottom, true to his annoying personality, claims he can play every role, but is stuck with Pyramid because he's a proper gentlemen, a phrase I interpret in its loosest possible sense. The Mechanicals plan to practice their play in the woods at night, where, conveniently, Lysander and Hermia will be 'cos they're running away.

A fairly boring scene and just a taste of how senseless the Mechanicals are going to be.

(Next up: Act 2, Scene 1. The fairies throw hissy fits and make bad plans.)

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