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Class in Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet

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  1. Shakespeare may be a poet for the ages, but he was also a man of his times. In this modern era, judging an artist often seems to require asking
  2. Social conventions in the 15th century were handed down from the Middle Ages, which were a deeply religious period
  3. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, too, Theseus' actions as the supreme human authority echo throughout the play.
  4. However, the idea expressed by Puck that ?fools these mortals be? (3.2.115) is perhaps unjustified
  5. In spite of the fighting, Romeo and Juliet is at it's heart a love story

Shakespeare may be a poet for the ages, but he was also a man of his times. In this modern era, judging an artist often seems to require asking: how much does he push against the standards of society? But this is a time long removed from Elizabethan England, an era when Puritans ran London and playwrights and actors were not only forced from London proper but denied Christian burial. Under these conditions, we find that Shakespeare, while subversive in small, playful ways, ardently supported the social constructions of his time, and in fact exploited these universal concepts to develop theatrical situations. In both Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, interactions between social classes are limited to certain types of exchanges, based on the role each was expected play; tension rises whenever a character acts differently from his or her role; and by the end, all elements have returned to their natural position.

[...] Class in Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare may be a poet for the ages, but he was also a man of his times. In this modern era, judging an artist often seems to require asking: how much does he push against the standards of society? But this is a time long removed from Elizabethan England, an era when Puritans ran London and playwrights and actors were not only forced from London proper but denied Christian burial. [...]


[...] In spite of the fighting, Romeo and Juliet is at it's heart a love story. If we take it as given that less tragedy should have occurred if the lovers hadn't taken everything so seriously, then we see new roles emerge for other characters in the play. The Nurse and Friar Laurence play opposing roles in helping the children define their relationship. The Nurse, of the servant class, represents a much more laidback approach to love. When Juliet is in a tizzy to hear word from Romeo, the Nurse laughs at her urgency, joking about her own youth and downplaying the seriousness of their affair. [...]

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