A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare: the funny bits

I didn’t think there was anything to poke fun at in this play, but then I remembered the Duke’s hunting party. Yoicks! Gone away!

Theseus My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee’d, and dew-lapp’d like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn,
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly:
Judge when you hear. But, soft! what nymphs are these?

This may be bardolatry but it occurs to me that the play’s real world, “Athens”, is pushed to this ludicrous breaking point at the exact moment when it catches up with the fantasy world – the discovery of the four lovers – and that this is another of the play’s many perfections.

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