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Published: 10-12-2019

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Literary Analysis and Interpretation of Bottom and Titania in Act 3 Scene 1

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the adore juice is a liquid so potent that no being can resist its effects, not even the fairies, who wield a considerable amount of power over nature. This enjoy juice can be seen as a device that Shakespeare makes use of as a way of representing the vagaries of romantic love, as it enables Shakespeare to freely manipulate the love interests of his characters to showcase how absurd enjoy can be. This effect is accomplished via the pairing of unlikely couples in the play, such as the pairing of Lysander with Helena, but these pairings pale in comparison to the jarring pairing of Titania and Bottom.

One of the strategies utilized by Shakespeare to present the coupling of these two characters as an oddity is by way of the usage of dramatic and situational irony. Even at the really starting of the scene, the irony is painfully apparent to the audience due to the fact Titania’s description of Bottom as an ‘angel’ can't possibly be further away from the truth. This is exceptionally effective given that it takes location quickly following the Mechanicals proclaim the transformed Bottom to be a monstrous creature, as the antithesis emphasizes how deluded Titania’s state of mind is. Bottom, unaware of the fairy queen’s presence, sings on, and the reference to the cuckoo bird in his song can be observed as a foreshadowing of the cuckoldry that is about to unfold. This is situationally ironic simply because Bottom is blissfully unaware of the truth that he himself will take part in this cuckoldry (Oberon is cuckolded by Titania). It is also worth noting that though this would have generated a considerable amount of laughter from an Elizabethan audience, the foreshadowing would have possibly escaped unnoticed by a modern audience due to the decreased usage of the word in recent times. A contemporary audience would far more likely react to Bottom’s singing rather, particularly if the director chooses to have the actor sing his lines horrendously. This decision would certainly highlight the irony of Titania’s request for Bottom to ‘sing again’. In addition to that, the director can pick to have the actress playing Titania to gently stroke Bottom’s donkey ears as she says the line ‘So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape’ to demonstrate how ironic it is that the fairy queen admires the extremely features that frightened the Mechanicals out of their wits. Titania’s hyperbolic speech ends with her declaration of her adore for Bottom, which might either trigger the audience to cringe out of discomfort, or to laugh heartily at the absurdity of it all. Either way, it forces the audience to acknowledge the reality that Titania and Bottom are awfully mismatched as a couple.

Right away soon after Titania’s speech, Bottom acts as a mouthpiece for insight by commenting that ‘reason and love maintain tiny firm collectively nowadays’. This epiphany is ironic, because Bottom has always been the silliest of all characters, yet in this scene he is the most logical. When the audience juxtaposes Bottom’s sensible views against that of Lysander’s irrational belief that ‘reason’ produced him switch lovers, it really slants Bottom in a constructive light. Hence, it can be mentioned that Bottom’s function has been promoted to the voice of purpose in the eyes of the audience, whereas Titania’s part has been decreased to that of a pathetic lover. For instance, Titania’s claim that the moon is ‘lamenting some enforced chastity’ implies that she is grateful to be romantically involved with Bottom, and pities the other beings in the planet who are not lucky adequate to consummate their enjoy or who are in romantic relationships against their will. This is ironic because Titania would not have willfully entered into a romantic affair with Bottom had she not been below the influence of the adore juice. In truth, when she returns to her standard state of thoughts, she is astonished by Bottom’s grossness, which reveals to the audience that the real Titania would most undoubtedly have been against the connection. The distinction in between what she is saying and the truth of the matter drives property the point that the duo are terribly unsuited for each other, so considerably so that the union would by no means have happened beneath standard situations.

Besides the usage of irony, Shakespeare also utilises the gap amongst their social statuses to make the pairing look absolutely bizarre. This is initial signaled to the audience by means of Titania’s usage of verse and Bottom’s usage of prose, as the audience is far more probably to associate characters who speak in verse with the upper class, and characters who speak in prose with the typical folk. Despite the fact that the distinction is evident adequate between the two when Titania speaks in blank verse, Shakespeare decides to take it one step further by creating Titania speak in rhyming couplets whilst she persuades Bottom to remain in the woods with her, which enhances the discrepancy amongst her and Bottom. If the audience has not by now figured out that they are from utterly distinct social classes, all doubt is cleared when Titania herself explicitly speaks of this disparity. In the scene, she admits that she is a ‘spirit of no common rate’, consequently as an effort to elevate Bottom up to her level, she will then ‘purge (his) mortal grossness so’. The antithesis employed by Titania shows that she is totally conscious of their dissimilarity in terms of social stature, but she is nonetheless really keen on going forward with their partnership. Naturally, because Titania is so potent an individual, it is Titania’s wishes who will be fulfilled at the finish of the scene. Her energy is implied by means of the line ‘I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee’, and the director can decide on to amplify the implication by way of the casting of adult men as the four fairies (which Adrian Noble chose to do in his 1994 production). It can be argued that this is more effective than the conventional casting of children as fairies in conveying the extent of Titania’s influence, as a leader of adults is very easily regarded far more formidable than a leader of children. Moreover, the notable distinction in tone is also productive in communicating the imbalance of energy between Titania and Bottom. Titania has a tendency of employing imperatives (‘Nod to him’) whereas Bottom does not, which is in contrast with Theseus and Hippolyta’s connection, for Theseus is the a single who often makes use of imperatives. The portrayal of Titania as the dominant party in her romantic relationship may really feel empowering for the female members of the audience, whereas the male members of the audience may possibly really feel intimidated. This reversal in the typical power dynamics of a couple (in Elizabethan occasions) serves to advance Shakespeare’s point that the pairing of Titania and Bottom is awfully unnatural.

Perhaps the most glaring distinction among Titania and Bottom is not that the both of them are from distinct social classes, but that they come from different realms. This can be made instantly apparent to the audience by way of the physicality of the actors. For example, to bring out the fairies’ ethereal high quality, Granville-Barker (who staged the play in 1914) had the fairies covered in gold paint and in locations actual gold leaf. For that reason, when the aesthetically-pleasing Titania is contrasted with the ass-headed Bottom, the audience can't aid but feel that they are incompatible with every other. Conversely, some productions could decide on to focus on the language to remind the audience that they are in the fairies’ realm. This is achieved through the abundance of natural imagery discovered in Titania’s speech and the names of her fairies. The diction utilised by Titania in her speech (‘apricocks’ ‘dewberries’ ‘green figs’) reflects the all-natural atmosphere that she is in, and the continual references to fruits could be Shakespeare’s way of insinuating sexual desire and fertility. In fact, figs are occasionally linked with Priapus, a satyr from Greek mythology who symbolized sexual wish. Moreover, Titania’s line ‘To have my enjoy to bed, and to arise’ could contain a sexual innuendo. It is also worth noting that Bottom’s ass-head could be an allusion to Lucius from Apuleius’ Golden Ass, who was punished for his foolish curiosity and sexual indulgence by getting transformed into an ass. These suggestions regarding the lovers’ carnal desires encourages the audience to contemplate the possibility of Titania and Bottom possessing sexual relations, and the connotation of bestiality would most probably disgust the audience, particularly these from the Victorian era.

On the other hand, the names of the fairies are comparatively free of sexual connotations. As an alternative, they offer an chance for Bottom to inform satirical jokes as he relates their names to the mortal globe. For instance, he teases Cobweb by saying that he will use him to bandage his wounds, which is a joke that would have been perfectly understood by the Elizabethan audience as cobwebs have been utilized to quit bleeding back then. However, a modern day audience may well not comprehend the reference, and would almost certainly be far more appreciative of the following joke where Bottom claims that Mustardseed’s kindred ‘hath produced (his) eyes water ere now’. This joke would have made the audience raucous with laughter, for it sounds like Bottom is crying more than the loss of Mustardseed’s loved ones members, but it could also mean that the strength of the mustard is so excellent that it produced his eyes water. Therefore, it can be stated that Bottom’s snide comments truly give a plane of reality for the audience members, although continuously reminding them of how ridiculous the whole predicament is.

Overall, all the ironies lead to an underlying and overarching sense of cognitive dissonance that convinces the audience of the illogicality of the coupling. Titania and Bottom clearly serve as foils towards each and every other, and the contrast between their statuses and realms makes the situation seem even more otherworldly and strange, which aids to enforce that sense of ridiculousness so prevalent all through the scene. In conclusion, Shakespeare has skillfully conveyed his point about the absurdity of really like by means of the unlikely pairing of Bottom and Titania.
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