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1. Midsummer Night
About this Lecture
In this module, we explore the various associations that a "Midsummer Night" would have evoked for the original Elizabethan audience. We begin by exploring the idea that Summer was considered a particularly dangerous time for the Elizabethan audience, before going on to think about the relationship between "Midsummer" and the Saint's Day of John the Baptist, which took place at this time of year.
In this course, Professor Diane Purkiss (Oxford) explores Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with a particular focus on some of the more magical aspects of the play. The course begins with an exploration of the idea of the "Midsummer Night" in the Elizabethan imagination, before thinking about contemporary beliefs about dreams (and nightmares). After this, we look in turn at three major fairies in the play - Titania, Oberon and Puck - exploring how they might have been understood by teh original Elizabethan audience. The course ends with a consideration of Pyramus and Thisbe, characters in the play-within-a-play, and asks: "Why is it that audiences find this tragic story so funny?"
Diane Purkiss is a Professor at Keble College, Oxford. She has published two books on the English Civil War - 'The English Civil War: A People's History' (2006) and 'Literature, Gender, and Politics during the English Civil War' (2005).
Cite this Lecture
Purkiss, D. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream - Midsummer Night [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-a-midsummer-night-s-dream/midsummer-night
Purkiss, D. "Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream – Midsummer Night." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-a-midsummer-night-s-dream/midsummer-night