Shakespeare's Creation: The Language of Magic and Play

By Kirby Farrell | Go to book overview
Save to active project

A Rite to Bay the Bear: Creation and Community in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Love's Labour's Lost celebrates no marriages. "That's too long," sighs Berowne, "for a play." In the end Shakespeare leaves the conflicts of the play suspended in the lyrical debate of Spring and Winter. The following two chapters examine A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet, contemporary plays which do give love dramatic form and time to develop. But while both plays include marriages, one issues in a magical blessing, the other in fatal catastrophe. Rather than speculate about dates and the influence of one play upon the other, I wish to look at them as divergent resolutions of the arrested action of Love Labour's Lost: opposing visions which lead, respectively, through the great comedies and tragedies to the tragicomic art of the late romances.

Let me briefly sketch the unrealized conclusion toward which Love's Labour's Lost moves. Marriage would join the courtiers and the ladies, but their two kingdoms also. In the marriage of Jaquenetta and Armado it would bring together within Navarre common and noble estates. A union might also integrate spirit and flesh, magical thinking and "common" sense. Hopefully, as in the first group of the Sonnets, the conception of children would reconcile the courtiers' initial dread of love and death.

While the play shows us characters groping toward such a conclusion, the question underlying the edict--How shall a man live?--goes unanswered. With his plays on "labour" and "living art" Shakespeare emphasizes that such a union must be created. And the courtiers do improvise one approach to life after another: a vatic edict, sonnets, a masque, courtly palaver. But at length, as they begin to escape from artifice, "the scene begins to cloud" and death suspends their efforts. Ironically the play's "living art" turns out to be the song which teases and consoles and beguiles us.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Shakespeare's Creation: The Language of Magic and Play


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 256

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?