Our latest Coursera assignment in “Shakespeare in Community” asks that we take some lines from A Midsummer’s Night Dream and mix them up, or make a poem or use them as we wish. Some one made a great pie chart, breaking down Shakespeare’s use of musical words. I decided to take some lines and mix them up to illustrate how fluid Shakespeare’s words can be. And to suggest a connect between the character’s spoken words.
Of course, dear Readers, I just had to share this with you as well.
We know this play is about the fickle nature of love. Shakespeare seems to be lecturing his audience on the frailty of love and just how easy it is to transfer one’s emotions from lover to lover. On a deeper level, we are reminded that over the course of our lives we can be different people to different lovers, and visa verse; what attracts us or makes us attractive to others can change over time. For some reason this train of thought led me to Bottom. He too wants to be several players on this world’s stage, and Shakespeare lets him. Bottom is our fool, a dreamy lover, a wise man, and would be troubadour. Bottom’s antics mirror that of the over all plot. Like the lovers he is fickle and easily distracted by the next thing. Who he is and what he wants depends on whom he is with.
For this assignment I decided to let Bottom do even more. Because he wants to play all of the parts, I’ve decided to let him speak first as himself then as another character. The catch, the lines had to match context (or somewhat match) so that his words make sense. This turned out to be fairly easy, as I love this play and know it well.
Here is a sample of Bottom, taking all the good parts. (The italics are the stolen lines)
I hope you enjoy it.
And I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice.
No, no; I’m as ugly as bear, for beasts that meet me run away for fear; therefore no marvel though Demetrius, do as monster, fly my presence thus.
Let me play the lion too. I will roar, that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me.
And though she be but little, she is fierce!
I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream; it call be called “Bottom’s Dream” because it hath no bottom; and will sing it in the latter end of the play, before the Duke. Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death.
Ay me, for pity! What a dream was here! Lysander, look how I quake in fear. Methought a serpent ate my heart away and you sat smiling at his cruel prey.