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Drama Study Unit Introduction:. The Renaissance and William Shakespeare’s , A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Renaissance Key Facts. What? “ rebirth ” of classic era (Greek and Roman ideas) When? 1400 – 1700 Where? Europe Why is it Important?

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drama study unit introduction

Drama Study Unit Introduction:

The Renaissance and William Shakespeare’s,

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

the renaissance key facts
The RenaissanceKey Facts
  • What?

“rebirth” of classic era (Greek and Roman ideas)

  • When?

1400 – 1700

  • Where?


  • Why is it Important?

Canadian values and laws developed from Renaissance ideas.

the renaissance a new philosophy humanism
Human beings are good, not sinful.

All humans can learn.

Humans are social, collaborative, LOVING and compassionate.

Humans are not competitive or self-centred.

We might make mistakes, but we are all just trying to do our best.

The RenaissanceA New Philosophy: Humanism
the renaissance humanism s effects on society
The RenaissanceHumanism’s Effects on Society
  • Art celebrated the Divine within the human mind and body.
  • Schools that allowed students to learn through discussing and

experiencing, instead of memorizing, developed. Student opinions were valued.

  • Books other than the Bible were written and read, leading to freedom of thought and access to ideas.
  • The Church was weakened, so a new type of government was needed.
the renaissance humanism s effects on society continued
The Renaissance…Humanism’s Effects on Society…continued
  • New studies, like Science, Math, Architecture, Geography, Astronomy, Agriculture, and Art
  • People were free to travel; they were no longer “owned” as serfs
  • Feudalism thus broke down.
  • Democracy came about.
  • People moved to towns and worked as merchants, doctors, and lawyers.
  • These people formed a new middle class: the Bourgeoisie.
  • Exploration and trade boomed—knowledge of other cultures increased. Views of the world changed.
the renaissance
The Renaissance

GEOGRAPHY: views of the world went from this:

the renaissance science
The RenaissanceSCIENCE

The 4 Humours, Elements, and Seasons:

Science was developing, but didn’t exist as we know it.

  • The world was made of 4 elements: earth, fire, water, and air.
  • The body was made of 4 humours:

blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm.

  • Each person had one of 4 personality types:

sanguine, melancholic, choleric, or phlegmatic.

the renaissance views of the world
The RenaissanceViews of the World

Find your personality type:

the renaissance medicine
The RenaissanceMEDICINE

Medicine aimed to restore balance in the following ways:

dude who s shakespeare
Dude, who’s Shakespeare?
  • Born April 23, 1564; Died April 23, 1616 (52)
  • Married Anne Hathaway at age 18. She was 24 and

3 months pregnant (oops).

  • Had 3 children: Susanna, Judith and Hamnet (twins). Hamnet died as a child. All 3 of Judith’s kids died before she did. Susanna’s daughter died childless. Thus, the Shakespeare line died.
  • Employed first as an actor, then as a playwright, poet
  • Wrote 37 plays, 154 sonnets, all in IAMBIC PENTAMETER!
  • When he died, he mentioned his wife only once: "I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture." (ouch!)
more random facts
More Random Facts
  • Spelling was not standardized: More than 80 spelling variations are recorded for Shakespeare's name, from “Shappere” to “Shaxberd.”
  • S’s looked like f’s.
  • Only men could act on the stage
  • Shakespeare performed most of his plays at the Globe theatre, which burned down in 1613. It was later rebuilt.
  • Theatergoers could purchase apples and pears to eat during the show. These snacks were often thrown at the actors by dissatisfied members of the audience.
  • Kings and Queens sat in the seats at the top.
  • The penny-pinchers, who were charged 1 cent to get in, stood on the floor in front of the stage. They were often drunk, swearing, and throwing things!
a midsummer night s dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Written: 1590-96

Written in blank verse (iambic pentameter, not rhyming)


  • lying to and disobeying parents
  • cheating
  • fighting
  • hidden identities
  • love
  • being a player
  • making out (with a donkey?)

Could a soap opera add more that THAT?

Could it get any better?

setting the escape
Setting: The ESCAPE

Athens is a city with rules and laws. It symbolizes LAW and ORDER

The Forest symbolizes disobedience, unpredictability, CHAOS and DISORDER.

Magical events happen in forests; think of fairy tales, Harry Potter, LOTR, etc.












the plot
The Plot

Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius. Hermia hates Demetrius because he’s a player, even though he really likes Hermia. Demetrius rats her out to the Duke, Theseus, who’s about to marry a hot Amazon chicita named Hippolyta. Hermia’s best friend, Helena, loves Demetrius, but Demetrius is a jerk to her. Meanwhile, Hermia is in love with Lysander, who also loves her. The two plan to sneak away into the forest together, but Helena overhears and tells Demetrius, who follows them. So, Helena follows Demetrius who is following Hermia who is following Lysander. Confused yet? No? Just wait…

plot continued
Plot, continued…

In the forest, two fairies, the King fairy, Oberon, and his girl, Titania, are fighting. Titania has adopted a small boy. Oberon wants a little lovin’ and can’t seem to get any now that Titania spends all her time with her son. Oberon gets his “right hand man”-fairy, Puck, to make her fall in love with Lysander, but Puck is a trickster and gets her to fall in love with a man who’s been turned into a donkey. That’s another story. Here it is:

plot continued1
Plot, continued…

The man-donkey is really Bottom (get it? he’s an “ass”?) who is an actor (mechanical) working on a play to perform for Theseus and Hippolyta. He was sleeping and Puck found him when he was looking for Lysander and decided to have some fun.

Meanwhile, Puck has also given his potion to Lysander and made him fall in love with Helena. Hermia is outraged and Helena is annoyed. The two girls have a nail-scratching-eyes-hair-pulling-fight fight.


What will happen?

How will all this be resolved?

Stay tuned!

now back to the ideas of order and balance
…Now, back to the ideas of Order and Balance
  • Everything should be in its proper place, people included. But what about Hermia disobeying her Dad?
  • All the humours should be in balance. But when a person is “out of place”, all these go out of whack and chaos takes over. Elizabethans sometimes believed that this was God’s way of punishing people who misbehaved or committed crimes or sins.
  • Hermia’s disobedience, therefore, brings about chaos and disorder in the play.
a msnd the big ideas
A MSND:the Big Ideas
  • Conflicts: person vs. person, person vs. society, person vs. the supernatural.
  • Themes: People shouldn’t disobey the law or authority figures. People can’t control who others love. We cannot control whom we love. Love conquers all.
  • Symbols: Athens represents law/order. The forest represents disorder/chaos. Donkey represents ignorance and stupidity.
  • IRONY—dramatic especially!
thanks for watching
Thanks for watching!

You are now ready to study A Midsummer Night’s Dream.You should be able to understand not only the plot, but also the more complex ideas woven together from the fabrics of the culture the play was written in.