Friday, January 29, 2010

Battle #3 Midsummer Night's Dream vs The Merchant of Venice

Battle #3 - A Mid Summer Night's Dream vs. The Merchant of Venice

Welcome, welcome one and all to the third and forth official day of the Battle of the Bards!!
Today is a very special day because we will be having a double.... that is right DOUBLE match up. First make sure to check out the contenders in the 'comedy' battle for the week. After you stop crying from laughter, you can begin crying from sadness as you make your way over to the tragedy ring.
So come one, come call, come big, come small, and place your votes for BOTH of our matchups today!!
Before we begin today's match we will be reviewing the rules/concept for those of you playing at home. Twice a week we will be pitting two of Shakespeare's most classic plays against each other in a no holds 'bard' contest to answer the age old question
While some plays might be 'deeper' or more technically written this contest is worried not about those things. Our contest comes right down to what you, the readers, feel in your heart of hearts is the most deserving for the crown. So make sure to carefully weigh your decisions and aim true before selecting your choice. (The poll can be found directly to the top left of the page).

The comedy battles will take place every Monday while Friday will hold the tragedies. You will have 3 days time to vote on each match up so don't dillydally. However we encourage you in that 3 days to do a little outside research of your own. Maybe watch a movie version, find a fun tv. parody, or even actually read a bit of the play (gasp!). However if you don't feel like going the extra mile, we will be providing you with a cornucopia of information for each play to guide you in your quest.

The path is sure to be long and hard but fear not, your efforts shall be rewarded in the end!! This week marks the begging of the 'first tier' of battles. For those who filled out their brackets, each correct guess in this tier will earn you one point towards the grand prize.
LAST WEEKS WINNER: Julius Caesar!!!

So for all of you who had ole J.C to win the first battle, you have earned yourself one point towards the GRAND PRIZE!! As the battle gets a little further into the game, we will be providing some stats about point leaders.
Now that you have heard the rules it is time to bring today's competitors! So break out your foam fingers, practice your iambic pentameter, and let's get ready to rummmbbllleeeeee in.....


A Midsummer Night's Dream

Weighing in at: 2119 lines

First appeared:1594-1596

Shortish summary: frolicking faeries, love potions, donkey heads

Much longer summary:

A Midsummer Night's dream is kind of like a vintage 'Love actually'. The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta, and set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland.

In the beginning, Hermia refuses to follow her father's instructions for her to marry his chosen man, Demetrius (sound familiar to any one?). In response, her daddy quotes before Theseus an ancient Athenian law whereby a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death (dang!). Theseus gives her a choice, listen to her dad or prepare herself to be a virgin forever.

Unbeknown st to her dad, Hermia already has herself a man. Hermia and Lysander make the mistake of telling their friend Helena, who ends up spilling the beans. Her dad and Helena follow them through the woods while Hermia and her man think they have made it out safely....

Meanwhile, Oberon and Titania (king and queen of the faeries), are out in the forest as well. Titania has been messing with the wrong people apparently and the weather has gone all crazy. Oberon is annoyed at his wife so he calls for the mischievous Puck to help him play a trick on his wife. They plan to give her a special potion where she will fall in love with some random thing in the woods.

It just so happens that Oberon saw Hermia's dad and Helena fighting in the woods. He tells Puck to throw some of that magic stuff on Demetrius as well so he will stop acting like a jerk, but of course Puck messes up and puts it on Hermia's lover instead (who then falls in love with Helena!)

They finally get the magic stuff on the right person, but now there are 2 magically entranced men fighting over a kind of worthless woman. Helena apparently knows she isn't much of a prize and doesn't believe the two men really care about her at all. Luckily the spell gets reversed on Hermia's love, and he returns to her.

So here is where the 3rd story intertwines. A band of six lower-class labourers are hanging out in the forest. Mischievious Puck ends up turning one of their heads (a man named Bottom) into a donkey. When his friends see him they take one look at him and run screaming in terror. Determined to wait for his friends, he begins to sing to himself. Titania is awakened by Bottom's singing and immediately falls in love with him (remember folks she is also under the magic spell of love). She treats him like a nobleman and lavishes him with attention.

Eventually everyone gets righted back to their normal non-magical spell and the chaos dies down. The play ends with all the faeries blessing everyone!

Fun Facts:

  • Get Over It: The 2001 film stars Kirsten Dunstin a "teen adaptation" of Shakespeare's play. The characters are set in high school, and in addition to some similarities in plot, there is a sub-plot involving the main characters acting in a musical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • For his series The Sandman, Neil Gaiman included a fantastical retelling of the play's origins in the graphic novel Dream Country. It won several awards, and is distinguished by being the only comic that has ever won a World Fantasy Award.
Interesting Quotes:
  • "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind".
  • "My heart Is true as steel."
  • "The course of true love never did run smooth".

Make sure to check out the BBC animated series of 'A Mid Summer Night's Dream'. Not only is the language beautiful, but so is the animation!

We aren't going to lie, M.N.D is looking like a great contender. However don't count out our next entrant just yet. He is looking to take 'a pound of flesh' right out of his opponent.

The Merchant of Venice
Weighing in at: 2669
First appearance: 1596-1598
Short Summary: sneaky jews, slacker friends, pound of fleshh
Very long summary:

After Bassanio (a lazy but nobelmen) squandered away all of his money he decides to travel to Belmont to woo the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia. Since he is lazy, he asks his friend Antonio (who is in fact not lazy) for some money for about the 100th time. Antonio agrees doesn't have much cash. He promises to cover a bond if Bassanio can find a lender. Bassanio turns to the JEWISH (woah Shakespeare) moneylender Shylock and names Antonio as the loan’s guarantor.

Shylock hates Antonio, both because he is a Christian and because he insulted and spat on Shylock for being a Jew. So to get back at him Shylock proposes a condition for the loan: if Antonio is unable to repay it at the specified date, he may take a pound of Antonio's flesh (um, ew). Bassiano says it isn't worth it but Antonio but no apparent reasons things that this time his friend might actually pay him back. Whoops. So Bassiano gets the money and with his friend Gratiano they roll out towards Belmont.

Meanwhile in Belmont, it turns out more people are trying to get with Portia than just Bassiano. Her father has left a will stipulating each of her suitors must choose correctly from one of three caskets – one each of gold, silver, and lead – before he could get the girl. In order to be granted an opportunity to marry Portia, each suitor must agree in advance to live out his life as a bachelor if he loses the contest. Of course there is a moral, and the father wants the suitor to pick the the ugly casket.

A few men try before Bassanio gets there, and of course they go for the expensive caskets. Wrong. So Bassanio shows up and of course chooses lead! Huzzah!!

During this time back in Venice, things are not looking so good for Antonio. Looks like he is going to be short on money and Shylock is more determined than ever to get his end of the bargain.

So back at Belmont, Portia and Bassanio have just been married when they get the news about Antonio. They rush back to Venice with some double the money that Bassanio owes, which they borrowed from Portia's daddy.

The climax of the play takes place when every one arrives to the Duke of Venice's court and start arguing about the loan. Shylock turns down the money and is dead set on getting a piece of Antonio (literally). Luckily for Antonio, Portia isn't just all looks, and discovers a loop hole in the agreement which frees Antonio from his debt and sends Shylock off pouting. Everyone gets a happy ending except poor sad Shylock. Don't worry though this isn't all as sad as it sounds. There are countless laughs along the way (mostly at Shylock's expense) and leaves you pretty happy that no one demands pounds of flesh for interest any more!

Some Interesting facts:

  • Gears of War 2 has an achievement named 'A pound of flesh' which is a reference to Shylock's deal regarding a pound of flesh.
  • In the Twilight Saga the end of Breaking Dawn is based on the ending of the play!
Fun Quotes:
  • How far that little candle throws his beams!
    So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
  • The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
  • "The quality of mercy is not strain'd/ It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/ Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:/ It blesseth him that gives and him that takes/ 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes/ The throned monarch better than his crown
Here is a trailer for one of the better film versions of the film. Not going to lie, this doesn't mark it look like a comedy.... But it has Al Pacino and he rocks.

Alright folks there is battle # 1. Take a breather, gather your thoughts, and prepare for the second battle that will take place in just a matter of hours!! Get your votes in and break out those foam fingers! Don't forget that we love to hear your personal stories, debates, and rationales behind your votes!!

-mischief managed, for a few hours-


  1. Got to love A Midsummer Night's Dream. One of my favorites!

  2. I took a Shakespeare class a year ago. I knew nothing of MND up until then. I read it and fell in love with both the scenery and story. It can almost be classified as a fantasy price. I find this play to be one of the Bard's best, only because it is so dream like. If you have not read the play I encourage you all to do so.

  3. By the way, I do not see the second battle for today. Is there a link I am missing?

  4. @ Sari - Thanks for the comment. it def is a beautiful play!! And you weren't missing any thing we are behind as normal and just got it up!! Go and place your vote!!

  5. MND's the very first Shakespeare play I ever read. I totally agree with SariJ, the play is reminiscent of fantasy and I think that's why it's my favorite. Plus, Puck is just so quirky! :P

  6. How can The Merchant of Venice be losing?? There is so much to learn from this play re:racism, tolerance etc!! I loved it when I first read it is high school.

  7. Sadly I remember very little about my Shakespeare courses in University...But Merchant of Venice is good!

  8. @Beth - Get em!!! Those are great reasons, which we will def be covering more in future posts of M.O.V gets through. Make sure to get all of your friends online to help push it ahead!!


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