Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Astrology, Fortune Speak and Macbeth

We are surrounded with people who can read our palms, study our stars, use a parrot or a tarrot... whatever and millions are being spent to understand what the future holds for us. Am I saying this is wrong or right? Thats not the issue, though I have had animated discussions with my friends on the futility of such an exercise. For long I look at this entire subject from a very religious eye glasses and condemned it with the belief that God holds the future.

Off late I am trying hard to look at things very differently, as a human being with no eye glasses at all. After all when you are trying to talk to your friend its best to be like them, understand them and deal the way they want to be dealt. I have removed these glasses now and I have plunged myself into having a normal vision. The best source of my understanding comes from reading. And Shakespeare influenced the climate of modern thought.

Macbeth gives us an excellent way to handle superstition. I am not using the word superstition pejoratively.

Lady Macbeth particularly, and Macbeth are greatly influenced by what the witches had predicted. They were driven by this and changed their behavior (completely rewired themselves is a better word). So they actually departed from the normal character. This is the gravest mistake when we get so influenced by the prediction of an event that we try to manipulate the process leading to the event. By doing this the Mabeth's lead a life which was not their own, and indulged in violent acts that bruised their own conscience.

The book must be read by every Indian who believes in Furture speak. It will help them handle themselves better. For Macbeth who believed in what the witches said wanted to erase their next prediction of what will happen to him through his enemies.

Funny when you get caught into this intricate web of stars and signs, you need to realize this maze of movement will conflict with a star or the future of another and thus jeopardize your own life and future. You get so dependent on the web and not on your self. Is it best to stay out? No its not like that. Its best to handle such things wisely

Magic

Magic 1: Puck is introduced, epitomizing the very nature of magic in the play. He is a fairy with special powers to transform his voice and appearance so that he may "lurk in gossip bowls" Act 2, Scene 1, line 47 and cause mischief. His conversation with the fairy is very magical and fantastical and sets the scene for the rest of the play.

Magic 2: Titania's story of the origin of the Indian boy is very fantastical in nature. She talks about magical events in nature and immortality. Immortality is a magical characteristic that only the fairies possess.

Magic 3: Oberon tells Puck of the magic flower juice that when placed on sleeping eyelids, makes that person fall in love with the first creature it sees upon awakening. The flower is magical because it was hit by one of Cupid's arrows and now contains this fantastical love-transforming juice.

Magic 4: Oberon places the magic juice on Titania's eyes to play a trick on her. Here, magic is used as a tool for him to get what he wants: the Indian boy.

Magic 5: When Lysander awakens, he falls in love magically with Helena, fantastically forgetting Hermia. This transformation is only due to the magic flower juice mistakenly placed on his eyelids by Puck. Because of this change, the rest of the lovers' entangled plot grows and Lysander abandons Hermia to follow Helena.

Act III, Scenes 1-2: "The same spot in the wood" & "Another part of the wood"

Magic 6: Puck sees the silly production of Pyramus and Thisbe and plans to cause mischief. He follows Puck and transforms Bottom's head into that of a donkey. He has the magical power to do so because he is a fairy. This transformation scares away the other players; however, Bottom is unaware of his change.

Magic 7: Puck tells Oberon of Titania's new love, Bottom the ass. Oberon laughs at what happens because of the little magic juice. He asks about the Athenian couple and Puck explains that he did place the magic juice on the man. This discussion is purely about the power of magic and what changes it can make and trouble it can stir with love.

Magic 8: Puck is ordered to correct the wrong done because of the magical mistakes. He uses his magical powers of voice transformation and invisibility to trick the Athenian men into a slumber. He then places more magic juice in the eyes of Lysander in order to correct the wrongs.

Act IV, Scenes 1-2: "The same portion of the wood" & "Athens, A room in Quince's house"

Magic 9: Oberon rids Titania of the magic spell and she awakens thinking she was dreaming. However, it was no dream that she "was enamored of an ass," Act 4, Scene 1, line 80 for everything is real and due to magic. Puck removes the donkey head from Bottom by magic, as well. Everything goes back to normal, after everything has been mended because of the fairies and magic.

Magic 10: Theseus, Egeus, and Hippolyta have trouble believing the stories of the four lovers, for they seem too fantastical. The magic of the woods cannot truly reach Athens' credibility. However, Hippolyta believes them a little more than the others for, although they all seem too magical to believe, they do correspond with one another.

Act V: "Athens, The great hall in the palace of Theseus"

Magic 11: The play concludes with the fairies singing and Puck addressing the audience. The ending is magical and leaves the audience with a fantastical sentiment. Their mystical presence is magical as they bless the newlyweds.

Love's Foolishness

Love's Foolishness 1: The mockery made of love in this play is evident from the first scene until the last. The play opens as a wedding is supposed to take place, the realization of a holy union of bliss. However, that union is interrupted by a plea from outside. The very fact that the symbol of love, a wedding, begins the play, but never truly takes place sets a precedent for the illustration of the foolishness of love for the rest of the play.

Love's Foolishness 2: Young Helena is unabashedly in love with Demetrius, a man who not only despises her, but is in love with her close friend, Hermia. The roles seem to reverse in this "couple," for Helena is the person who pursues an unwieldy Demetrius, while he chases another. This is a game of cat and mouse. These characters have turned love into a game.

Love's Foolishness 3: This time, love is mocked in a play within a play. The commoners (and comic relief of this Shakespearean play) decide to put on the lamentable tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe, a great love story. They torture it to laughter by selecting it as their drama to enact, and they inadvertently mock the ideal of love by assigning the parts randomly. This theme will be revisited in Act 5.

Act II, Scenes 1-2: "Night, A wood near Athens" & "Another part of the wood"

Love's Foolishness 4: Titania and Oberon enter, enraged with one another although supposedly in love. Their image in the play is of a fairy couple who currently hates each other. They discuss supposed loves each has with other people, minimizing the love they have together.

Love's Foolishness 5: Helena woos Demetrius harshly, unrelenting to his cruel treatment of her. She states that men are meant to woo women, not women to men. This reversal of identities in Shakespeare's time is slightly absurd and foolish.

Love's Foolishness 6: Oberon places the magic juice on Titania's eyes hoping that she will fall in love with "something vile" Act 2, Scene 2, lines 33-34. Enabling this fairy queen to fall in love with a vile creature mocks the validity of love.

Love's Foolishness 7: Helena cannot believe that these men love her. She believes that their love to her is a cruel joke, foolish treatment. She is upset with Lysander for doting over her, for she simply does not nor cannot believe it to be true. Furthermore, the love that Lysander at one point has for Hermia, suddenly transforms into adoration for Helena instantaneously from the magic juice. A simple drop of juice can change love quickly and foolishly.

Act III, Scenes 1-2: "The same spot in the wood" & "Another part of the wood"

Love's Foolishness 8: In the players' production of Pyramus and Thisbe, they believe that a wall must physically separate the lovers. They assign the role of the wall to Snout a man, loaning loads of laughter and comedy to the serious love story.

Love's Foolishness 9: The image of Titania waking up to fall in love with the donkey-faced Bottom is pure mockery of the ideal of love. A beautiful fairy doting on and seducing not only a common man, but an ass is foolish, funny, and fearful. How much more can love be made fun of?

Love's Foolishness 10: Seeing the spectacle of the four Athenian lovers quarrel is humorous to the fairy Puck. He states in the most famous line from the play, "What fools these mortals be!" Act 3, Scene 2, line 115 implying that their foolishness arises because of love. Love makes the mortals act foolish and Puck notices it.

Love's Foolishness 11: This memorable scene of the love quadrangle all entangled is hysterical and foolish. Each man keeps changing the woman he loves, and each woman cannot believe the reality of the love proclaimed. Demetrius dotes on Helena, the woman he scorns, and Lysander abandons his true love Hermia, to dote on Helena as well. The two even become foolish fighters and prepare to duel for love. Furthermore, Helena and Hermia become foolish cat-fighters as well, all in the name of love.

Act IV, Scenes 1-2: "The same portion of the wood" & "Athens, A room in Quince's house"

Love's Foolishness 12: The image of Titania entangled and sleeping above an ass is both daring and shocking. This play seems to take the mockery of love to extreme illustrations to prove a point.

Love's Foolishness 13: Love is also given a foolish name in the character of Bottom. He is desperately in love with himself, loves to hear himself speak, and wants to take every role in the play, and plans to write a prologue about his "dream." Having Bottom dote upon himself is the illustration of a foolish and comic character mocking a different type of love.

Act V: "Athens, The great hall in the palace of Theseus"

Love's Foolishness 14: The play concludes with the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta that was interrupted in the first act. However, this time, instead of focusing exclusively on the beautiful union of one couple, the play allows a triple wedding to occur. This triple wedding takes away the importance of each couple's love and diminishes its importance somewhat.

Jealousy

Jealousy 1: This first hint of jealousy is seen as Egeus claims to Theseus that Demetrius has stolen Hermia's obedience and love. He is slightly jealous of the new man in his daughter's life. This father/daughter jealousy is of course natural, but is taken to extremes is the play. It is also just one type of jealousy explored in the five acts.

Jealousy 2: Helena is deeply in love with Demetrius, who is in love with Hermia. Therefore, Helena is jealous of Hermia's beauty and she claims that she too is as beautiful. She wonders what Hermia has that she doesn't that makes men follow her everywhere. So, out of jealousy, Helena tells Demetrius that Hermia and Lysander plan to escape to the woods so that he will follow them and she will follow him.

Act II, Scenes 1-2: "Night, A wood near Athens" & "Another part of the wood"

Jealousy 3: Oberon and Titania bicker over many issues, including their supposed "other" loves and the possession of the little Indian boy. These arguments stem both from jealousy. The fairy without the Indian boy is jealous of the other and will go to any length to get him back.

Jealousy 4: Helena, again, is in bitter sentiment over her mistreatment from Demetrius. However, she is hurt not simply because he is rude and mean to her, but because she is jealous of Hermia. She tells the audience that she is thought as beautiful as Hermia all through Athens and cannot understand why Hermia gets the attention of her beloved Demetrius. This jealousy translates into her perpetual chase after Demetrius.

Act III, Scenes 1-2: "The same spot in the wood" & "Another part of the wood"

Jealousy 5: When Lysander tells Hermia that he abandoned her in the middle of the night for Helena, Hermia is enraged with jealousy. The words that come out of Lysander's mouth hit Hermia and injure her, building her jealousy of Helena instead of building her frustration with Lysander.

Jealousy 6: The fights between both Lysander and Demetrius and Hermia and Helena all have something to do with jealousy. Lysander and Demetrius are jealous of one another and both want Helena, where they used to want Hermia. And Hermia and Helena fight because Hermia is jealous of Helena as the reverse used to be true.

Act IV, Scenes 1-2: "The same portion of the wood" & "Athens, A room in Quince's house"

Jealousy 7: Oberon decides that the trick has gone far enough and will restore Titania to her normal self. Whether he is jealous of Bottom's position with her or not is unknown. But, he does see her in love with another creature and then decides that the magic must end.

Jealousy 8: Oberon also decides that everything will go back to normal with all creatures in the forest. He has possession of the Indian boy and that fact illustrates that he is no longer jealous of Titania. Therefore, with his jealousy gone, everything is fine to go back to normal in the woods.

Jealousy 9: When Theseus sees the four lovers sleeping peacefully together, he is shocked because he knows how much they all hate each other. He says that jealousy is not far from hatred. This statement from Theseus resonates throughout the play and is illustrated through the characters' behavior. When they are jealous, they act enraged and as if they hate each other.

Act V: "Athens, The great hall in the palace of Theseus"

Jealousy 10: Jealousy exists in another form with Bottom. He loves attention and loves to speak. Therefore, he is jealous of stage time and plans to take all of it that he can. He overacts, speaks too much, and dies an elongated stage-death, stealing scenes from everyone on stage.

Dreams/Sleeping

Dreams 1: The title holds the word "dream," inferring that the play will be either a dream or will talk about dreams. The interpretation is up to the audience member or reader. However, the title foreshadows so many events that occur in the play and also subconsciously sets a mood before the first line is even uttered.

Act II, Scenes 1-2: "Night, A wood near Athens" & "Another part of the wood"

Dreams 2: As Oberon explains the nature of the magic flower juice, he mentions that it must be placed upon sleeping eyelids. Dreams come to life during sleep. So, the magic juice works in collaboration with dreams and only works when the person is asleep, perhaps dreaming or perhaps awaking to a new dream.

Dreams 3: This is the first placement of the magic juice on sleeping eyelids. Oberon uses the flower juice on Titania to play a trick on her/teach her a lesson. He whispers into her sleeping ears that when she wakes, she will fall in love with something vile. She is sleeping as he whispers so his words could be heard in a dream.

Dreams 4: Hermia and Lysander slow down so that they may sleep for the night. However, they sleep separately, cueing Puck and perhaps separating their possible dreams. Hermia sleeps far from Lysander because her chastity as a maid is important.

Dreams 5: Puck has placed the magic juice in Lysander's eyes, so when Helena spots him on the ground, she wakes him up for fear of death or injury. He is sleeping and awakens in love with Helena, entering a new dream, a new fantasy. He has transformed his feelings in his dream.

Dreams 6: Hermia awakens in the woods, alone, looking for her beloved Lysander. She has had a horrible nightmare and wants Lysander to comfort her. In her nightmare, a serpent is eating her heart and Lysander sits "smiling at his cruel prey" Act 2, Scene 2, line 150. She is frightened and alone. Her nightmare foreshadows the treatment she will soon receive from Lysander.

Act III, Scenes 1-2: "The same spot in the wood" & "Another part of the wood"

Dreams 7: Titania wakes from her slumber to see Bottom as a donkey and immediately falls in love with him. This amity is because of the magic juice placed on her during her sleep. When she awakens, like the Athenians, she is entering another dreamlike state, an altered reality transformed from her sleep.

Dreams 8: Oberon places the magic juice on the sleeping eyes of Demetrius so that he will wake and fall in love with Helena. This was the original plan confused by Puck that started the chaos in the woods.

Dreams 9: Oberon now makes sure that he uses the sleeping-dream state to right all of these wrongs. He commands Puck to fix everything. Puck tricks the two men into a slumber and places the magic juice on Lysander's eyes. The four lovers fall asleep together, in blissful harmony.

Act IV, Scenes 1-2: "The same portion of the wood" & "Athens, A room in Quince's house"

Dreams 10: Oberon plans to return the fairy world to normal, since he has already done so with the mortal world. He plans to awaken his Titania from her dreamlike trance of being in love with Bottom, the ass. He plans to have the evening remembered "as the fierce vexation of a dream" Act 4, Scene 1, lines 70-72. The king of the fairies plans to have the magic translated into dreams for those who experience it.

Dreams 11: Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus see the four lovers sleeping in the woods peacefully. They are shocked at the happy slumber, and the play seems to have come full circle as they wake up into their new happy world. They wake up from their magical dream in the woods to get married.

Dreams 12: Bottom returns to his players in Athens with his normal head. He is recovering from his "dream," and tells his players that he has had the most incredible dream and will write it into the play as "Bottom's Dream." Everything magical seems to be explained through dreams.

Act V: "Athens, The great hall in the palace of Theseus"

Dreams 13: Puck addresses the audience in the closing lines of the play telling them that everything they have just seen is a dream. Every vision, every touch of magic that was just enacted, he tells them, can all be explained by dreams and slumber.

Book Summary

The play opens in a palace in Athens one hour before the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to his newly conquered Amazonian queen, Hippolyta. Their nuptials are interrupted by Egeus, an Athenian father begging help of Theseus. His daughter, Hermia, is in love with young Lysander, and wants to marry him. Egeus already bequeathed her to Demetrius, who is also in love with her. Hermia's childhood friend, Helena, is in love with Demetrius, and follows him around like a lost puppy. Theseus tells Hermia that she has until morn to decide to marry Demetrius, join a nunnery, or die.
Lysander and Hermia decide to run away together into the woods and elope near his aunt's home. They get ready to leave as they see Helena ranting about her love for Demetrius and her unhappiness that he puts her down all the time. They tell her of their plan to escape.

In a room in the carpenter Quince's house in Athens, six commoners discuss their plan to put on the play, Pyramus and Thisbe, at the Duke's wedding. Quince dispenses the roles to the players, most notably the over-dramatic weaver Bottom. He will play Pyramus, while Flute will play Thisbe.

In the woods, the sprightly fairy Puck addresses the audience with his mischievous nature. Oberon and Titania enter the woods, furious with one another over the possession of a little Indian boy. Oberon spot Demetrius running into the woods looking for Hermia, followed by a doting Helena, whom he hates. He tells Puck to find a magic flower that holds juice that when placed on sleeping eyelids, makes the person sleeping fall in love with the first creature he or she sees upon waking. He tells Puck to place it on the sleeping eyes of a man he will notice by the Athenian clothes he has on (namely Demetrius). Puck plans to obey these orders.

Oberon sees Titania and plans to play a trick on her by placing the magic juice on her eyes, as well, allowing her to fall in love with a fool.

Lysander and Hermia go to sleep, separately because they are not yet married. Puck sees them and thinks that Lysander is the man on whose eyes Oberon wants the magic juice placed. He does so. Helena runs into the woods at the same spot, sees Lysander, wakes him for fear of death, and Lysander falls in love with her. He leaves the sleeping Hermia to follow Helena and win her heart.

The six players rehearse in the woods. Puck plays a trick on Bottom by transforming his head into that of a donkey's. The rest of the men are frightened off. Bottom is unaware of his appearance. Titania awakens, sees Bottom, and falls in love. She and her fairies adorn him with flowers, attention, and "love."

Demetrius follows a lonely and distressed Hermia through the woods looking for Lysander. She blames him for Lysander's disappearance. They bicker as Oberon and Puck watch, realizing that Puck placed the juice in the wrong's Athenian's eyes. They sleep and Oberon squeezes the juice into Demetrius's eyes for Helena. He awakens, sees Helena, and falls in love. Lysander and Demetrius now fight for Helena, where they used to fight for Hermia. Hermia is now cast aside and cursed by the two men. Helena believes they are all playing a cruel joke on her. Hermia attacks Helena for stealing her lover and the insults fly on both parties' end. The two women then run away enraged.

Oberon reprimands Puck for his negligence and vows to make peace of the chaos. Puck tricks the two men into falling asleep and places the juice back in Lysander's eyes. He gets all four lovers to sleep in one location and says that in the morning, both couples will be happy and all will be well.

Titania still tends to Bottom, but they get tired and lay down to nap. Oberon, pleased with his handiwork, places the juice back in her eyes and allows her to return to her normal state. She awakens and returns to Oberon, thinking it was all a dream. Bottom's head returns to human status and he returns to Athens finding the players at Quince's house worried. They prepare to perform the play at the Duke's wedding night.

Egeus, Theseus, and Hippolyta are on a hunting trip in the woods and spot the four lovers asleep together. They are shocked at the amiability between the four, but welcome the new couples.

The three happy couples, Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia, and Demetrius and Helena return to the palace for a triple wedding. The play concludes with a hysterical presentation of Pyramus and Thisbe by the six players and a fantastical closing by Titania, Oberon, and Puck.