Monday, October 15, 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The movie that I watched is A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, and it is full of interesting new ideas and surprises. The movie is a romantic comedy, so it tells the story of 4 young lovers, Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena. Shakespeare touches on the theme of what is true love. The 4 young lovers' love is based on appearances as they continuously comment on how beautiful each other looks. Theseus is actually in the play, and he is with Hippolyta, which obviously shows that he forgot about Ariadne and left her. Finally, there is the marriage of Titania and Oberon, the faeries, who have an old, crusty love, which Shakespeare portrays as true love. With different kinds of love present, Shakespeare also brings in the concept of truth and illusion. He shows that people only see what they want to see, and the love of the eyes is deceiving. The 4 young lovers changed who they loved because they only saw with their eyes. In the very end, order was restored as each coouple got married, but Shaklespeare also leaves the audience with a sense of uncertainty as Puck, a faerie, tells the audience that what they had just witnessed was a dream...
Catullus also wrote many poems on how much he loves Lesbia. In carmen 51, he talks about what he feels just by looking at Lesbia. In carmen 5, he wants thousands of kisses from Lesbia, and in carmen 86, he talks about her "venustas". Just like the young lovers, Catullus is attracted to Lesbia by her appearance. Her charm and grace is what makes Lesbia beautiful, and he wants her without caring about what others think. Lysander and Hermia decide to elope when Hermia's father refuses to wed them. They do not care about what others think as long as they can be together; however, their love do not last long. When Lysander's eyes are juiced, he immediately falls in love with Helena and completely shunes Hermia. Just like how Lesbia betrays Catullus, Lysander betrays Hermia by forgetting all about what he had promised her and goes for Helena. He is also turning into Theseus as he forgets everything he has ever said to Hermia just like how Theseus forgets and abandons Ariadne.
Soon, the betrayal of one's love leds to hate. In carmen 60, Lesbia is the subject of Catullus's rant as he denounces her for being cruel and cold-hearted. He mentions her as a "pessima puella" in carmen 36. He also displays his distrust of Lesbia's commitment in carmen 70, and questions her in carmen 8 when he says "quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? quem nunc amabis?" (Who will come to you now? Who will think you are pretty? Whom will you love now?) ( lines 16-17) At times, Catullus also goes on rants about others, like in carmen 77 when he talks trash about Rufus by calling him "crudele" and "venenum". In A Midsummer Night's Dream, when Hermia finally realizes that Lysander is leaving her for Helena, she is outraged and wants to attack Helena. Helena acts like a helpless little victim and hides behind Lysander and Demetrius. Instead of putting all the blame on Lysander, she blames Helena for stealing him away from her. She gets to a point where she wants to seriously hurt Helena and turns from a nice, gentle girl into a savage monster, much like what Catullus describes Lesbia as in carmen 60.
The girls, Helena and Hermia, also have a hard time believing and letting go of their men. Even though Helena knows that Demetrius loves Hermia, she still continuously chases after him despite his continuous insults and rejections of her. When Lysander falls for Helena, Hermia would not believe what she is seeing and continuous goes after Lysander. Catullus, in much of the same way, write many poems to try and get Lesbia back. Even though he feels that she has betrayed him, he still loves and wants her. Carmen 11 is often thought of as Catullus's final and failed attempt to win back Lesbia.
There is also the story of Pyramus and Thisbe inside the play. Just like how Catullus writes poems about different love stories of other couples to display what he is feeling and wants, the play Pyramus and Thisbe also shows a different love story.
One difference between the two is that A Midsummer Night's Dream ends with all the couples married to each other; however, Shakespeare does suggest that all might not be what meets the eye since their love is based on illusions. Catullus and Lesbia never got back together because Lesbia betrayed Catullus, and their love was not always real.


Bob Patrick said...

Nice! We will be reading Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid soon.
Mr. P

anqi2 said...

I can also see how you can make even broader evaluations about love, not just the happy part of it. For example, what did the lovers do when the love spell went horribly wrong? Sought revenge. What did Catullus do when he saw other people eyeing his prize, Lesbia? Sought revenge (or something of the like... ok... maybe not that extreme...)