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Midsummer Night's Dream
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Midsummer Night's Dream

Written By : William Shakespeare
Narrator : Full Cast Production
Published By : Select Music & Distribution
Length : 2 hours 20 minutes
Type : Shakespeare
Price : $15.49
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A Midsummer Night's Dream must be one of the most enduringly popular of Shakespeare's plays, and it is not difficult to see why: the work blends several kinds of comedy with a powerful atmosphere of magic and mystery and a satisfying set of contrasts - between city and country, reason and imagination, love and infatuation.

The play dates from 1595-6, and therefore belongs to Shakespeare's early maturity as a dramatist. There is some disagreement about whether A Midsummer Night's Dream was specially written for an aristocratic wedding. No direct evidence for this speculation exists, although the festive and optimistic emphasis at the end - the fairies blessing the 'bride-bed' - would certainly be appropriate. One senses, too, a celebratory delight in the young writer's new-found richness of ideas and mastery of form, and it is interesting to see from what a wide range of sources Shakespeare drew in order to create what is nevertheless a highly original work.

The Sources
The anticipation and completion of Theseus' and Hippolyta's wedding, which frames the action, is taken from Chaucer's The Knight's Tale. Puck's origin, on the other hand, owes more to folklore than literature; the mechanicals' or 'clowns' (Bottom, Quince et al) are clearly caricatured Elizabethan working men, while the story of Pyramus and Thisbe came to Shakespeare through Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. No single source, however, can account for the miraculous transformation Shakespeare works upon these diverse materials.

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