Tiffany Stern

Jun 12, 2023

Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Part 1: The Story

A Discussion with Tiffany Stern

New Books Network 2023

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedies. At the same time, it’s a play that explores the darker and more dangerous side of love. Four young lovers flee into the forest where their romantic entanglements become even more entangled thanks to the magic of the fairy king, Oberon — who also puts a spell on his wife, Titania, so she falls in love with Bottom, a man with an enchanted donkey’s head. In this course, you’ll learn the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, discover how the play’s fantastical elements actually represent universal issues in our everyday lives, and hear the play’s key speeches performed and analyzed by world-class Shakespearean actors and literary scholars. In Part 1, you’ll be guided through a detailed account of the story with commentary by Tiffany Stern, Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama at the Shakespeare Institute. Professor Stern discusses the play’s context, structure, and distinctive mix of comedy and tragedy, as created by the “play-within-a-play” — the “tragic” story of Pyramus and Thisbe performed by one group of characters to celebrate the others’ weddings. This summary is told using the language of the play itself, placing key quotations in context to help you understand where these lines come from and what they mean.

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