A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare, the Critical by Judith M. Kennedy, Richard F. Kennedy

By Judith M. Kennedy, Richard F. Kennedy

This research lines the reaction to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from Shakespeare's day to the current, together with critics from Britain, Europe and the USA.

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2-7, 'Fore the third part of a minute . . queint spirits'). 164-73, 'Be kind and courteous . . 54 Five years later George Colman also lauded the 'imaginary Beings' endued 'with suitable Passions, Affections, Dispositions, allotting them at the same Time proper Employment'. He added, 'to body forth, by the Powers of Imagination, the Forms of Things unknown, and to give to airy Nothing a local Habitation and a Name, surely requires a Genius for the Drama . 55 More praise came from David Baker in his Companion to the Play-House (1764): 'This Play is one of the wild and irregular Overflowings of this great Author's creative Imagination'.

Dr Drake in his Suffolk retreat apparently did not test his vision of 'beings lighter than the gossamer' against the fact of their stage embodiment, but the experience was clearly beyond the scope of Hazlitt's imaginative powers. His anguished conviction that poetry and the ideal have no place upon the stage, that the theatre is incapable of transporting an audience to 'the regions of fancy', sounds a rallying cry for the negative forces in the debate over Dream's theatrical viability, a debate which survived well into the twentieth century even in the face of the evident popularity of frequent productions.

In his Essay on Genius (1774) Alexander Gerard censures the bard because he 'was not always able to keep the richness of his fancy from displaying itself in cases where judgment would have directed him to control it'. 198-208] suitable and 'natural', but here the Poet's own imagination takes fire, and he goes on: So we grew together Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, But yet an union in partition, Two lovely berries moulded on one stem; Or with two seeming bodies, but one heart, Two of the first, like coats in heraldry, Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.

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