Saturday, September 27, 2008

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.

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