Summary: Everyone is back in Athens and freshly married. Theseus dismisses the stories from the night as the fanciful fantasies of lovers and poets. They all sit back and watch the play put on by Bottom and his crew. The play is so bad that they spend the whole time laughing at it but still end up having a good time. Everyone retires for the night and Puck shows up to speak to the audience, letting us know that we can pretend the whole play was just a dream.
Commentary: There’s some good stuff in this scene, specifically when you look at the layers of fantasy, play, actors, and even the 4th wall being broken at the very end. The whole play works well if you picture yourself as a voyeur taking part in the Midsummer Night’s celebration, kind of an onlooker in the same way Oberon and Puck watch everything unfold.
I like Puck’s final speech that closes off the play:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was really fun. I watched the 1999 movie with Kevin Klein as Bottom and thought it was great. The final act really needs to be seen, because text alone does not do it justice.
Obviously, all plays are much better seen than read, but I think that this rule applies a lot more to comedies. Macbeth reads just fine, watching a movie helps but it’s not necessary. In the case of Midsummer Night’s Dream, I actually enjoyed the movie more than reading the text.
Ok, now on to Coriolanus!