Shakespeare: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”


[A response paper on a writer’s strategy using a single topic; something Shakespeare was an expert at.]



Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour

Draws on apace. Four happy days bring in

Another moon; but, O, methinks, how slow

This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires,

Like to a stepdame, or a dowager,

Long withering out a young man’s revenue.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1.1.1-6


Skakespeare squeezes numerous definitions out of the moon in the first two acts of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the above passage Theseus attributes a personality to the moon, and the alleged personality is blamed for dragging out the time until he and Hippolyta can marry: “She lingers my desires.” Hippolyta responds with her own use of the moon, but she insinuates how it will be a celestial ornament to their marriage celebration: “And then the moon, like to a silver bow new-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities” – (1.1.9-10). Later, when Egeus accuses Lysander before Theseus, he claims he serenaded Hermia by moonlight: “Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, with feigning voice, verses of feigning love” – (1.1.30-31). And when Theseus discusses Egeus’ claim with Hermia, he again mentions the moon. However, he is now using it to represent a period of time: “Take time to pause; and, by the next moon” – (1.1.83). And there are five more times within the first two acts where moon or moonlight are used. Quince tells the actors in the play that they will rehearse “by moonlight” – (1.2.98-104). Fairy claims, “I do wander everywhere, swifter than the moon’s sphere” – (2.1.6-7), a reference to an antiquated belief about the moon’s orbit in a hollow sphere around Earth. Oberon proclaims, “Ill met by moonlight” —  (2.1.60), when running into Titania: as if it is a waste of  romantic moonlight for them to meet while quarreling. And Titania later mentions “moonlight revels” – (2.1.139-142), in her talk with Oberon, when she suggests a way for them to come together after Theseus’ wedding, or she’ll continue to shun him. And, finally, Oberon tells of seeing Cupid’s arrow “in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon” – (2.1.161-162), when discussing how the flower known as love-in-idleness was transformed.

I found it interesting to see the various uses Shakespeare found for a singular topic. And the above definitions and uses are merely from the first two acts. And even though the meanings are different the multiple uses add a sense of continuity to the piece. It’s an excellent writer’s strategy to tie the piece together.


12 thoughts on “Shakespeare: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

  1. Mary Cathleen Clark May 16, 2016 / 3:52 am

    To be honest, I’ve read very little Shakespeare other than what was required in school. I admire that you can dissect his writing–which to me, made little sense–and understand his words. My mind doesn’t run that deep, JW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jwtatfbc May 16, 2016 / 3:54 am

      I couldn’t pull a lot out of it originally until I studied it in college for writing courses, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc May 16, 2016 / 3:57 am

        I did; and realized many modern stories are based on his works without giving him credit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Cathleen Clark May 16, 2016 / 4:00 am

        I have heard that.
        Writing styles were so different in the past than they are now that I found myself getting bogged down and bored when I tried to read most of the classics. There are a few I have enjoyed, but not many.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc May 16, 2016 / 4:03 am

        The old English gets a lot of people down, but the characters a and plots had a lot going for them. But, I must admit, they are no where near my favorites.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jwtatfbc May 16, 2016 / 4:05 am

        And good night and sweet dreams to you as well, Pretty Lady.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Poet Rummager May 16, 2016 / 8:24 am

    I studied Shakespeare a bit at school — the only time I fully was able to understand his verbiage was when the professor knew how to teach Shakespeare with passion and patience. I enjoyed reading your post and loved reading about the many meanings of the moon; which reminds me of a Shakespeare quote:

    “Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • jwtatfbc May 16, 2016 / 11:27 pm

      Understanding is naturally a major component. And when you dig beneath his words you find that many of today’s works owe him a lot. Thank you for the response, Rose.

      Liked by 1 person

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