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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

  

by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to Folger's online edition.

Quote #10

QUINCE [PROLOGUE]
If we offend, it is with our goodwill.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
But with goodwill. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider then, we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you,
Our true intent is. All for your delight
We are not here. That you should here repent
you,
The actors are at hand, and, by their show,
You shall know all that you are like to know, (5.1.108-117)

Quince butchers the prologue with bad punctuation, lousy rhymes, obvious statements, and by telling the entire story before it happens.  Typically, this kind of information was reserved for the epilogue at the end of the play.  In fact, the Epilogue (speech at the end) of A Midsummer Night's Dream has a lot in common with the Mechanicals' prologue. What's up with that?

Quote #11

HIPPOLYTA
This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

THESEUS
The best in this kind are but shadows; and 
the worst are no worse, if imagination amend
them. (5.1.223-226)

Hippolyta thinks this play is really bad, but Theseus counters that all plays are probably bad, because they are by nature so far removed from reality. In other words, Theseus suggests that theater is far removed from real life and therefore cannot teach us anything about it. Still, is this really true?

Quote #12

PYRAMUS
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead;
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight! [Moonshine exits.]
Now die, die, die, die, die.  [Pyramus falls.] (5.1.316-322)

This death scene is pretty ridiculous, but it is a play on what we have seen before in Shakespeare. The Pyramus and Thisbe story is a parallel to Romeo and Juliet, playing on the double-suicide of lovers who go to their deaths because of a misunderstanding. Shakespeare is proving here that all that stands between a comedic ending and a tragic one is good poetry and better acting.

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