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Forest image in Shakespeare

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message 1: by Shecharchoret (new)

Shecharchoret (sinemiptas) Hello everyone,

I want to wirte a paper abou the forest image of Shakespeare. The plays I have chosen are " A Midsummer Night's Dream" and " As you like it". In both play, we see there is a forest in which people meet and the actions take place but the two forest image seem quite different to me. If there is anyone who have read both of the plays, I will be very happy of hearing it. Besides, If there is a source that you can suggest, it will be great also. Thanks you all in advance :)

message 2: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy | 8 comments I remember discussing this topic - not sure if it was an undergrad course, graduate course, or maybe both - it's been a few years. What I remember discussing is how the forest provides an alternative to society. The forest is a place where roles, especially gender roles, can be transgressed. Hierarchies are eroded.

I reread A Midsummer Night's Dream last year, but it's been a few years since I read As You Like It. In what ways do you see the forest being different in the two plays? I see a few similarities (based on my fading memory). In both plays the forest is a place of confusion. Confusion of gender and social rank in As You Like It, confusion of attraction in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a confusion of social norms in both places.

Unfortunately I can't provide a source for you. I know the topic is discussed in the Shakespeare anthology I used in college. I think it's a common enough theme in Shakespeare that someone has probably written extensively about it.

I don't know how long your paper is going to be, or what level you're writing it for, (or most importantly, when it's due!) but it might be interesting to compare how the forest functions in comedy versus tragedy. Off the top of my head I'm thinking about the violence that occurs in the forest in Titus Andronicus and the supernatural elements in the forest in Macbeth. I'd have to look at the plays again to see if the idea is worth pursuing.

message 3: by Shecharchoret (new)

Shecharchoret (sinemiptas) Jeremy wrote: "I remember discussing this topic - not sure if it was an undergrad course, graduate course, or maybe both - it's been a few years. What I remember discussing is how the forest provides an alternati..."
Firstly, thank you for your comment :)
You have talked about the similarities and I agree with you. Although both plays contain the issue of transformation, it is performed with the magic in Midsummer Night's Dream while the transformation emerges in the personality of characters in As you like it. the other thing is that the forest gives more freedom to characters but the forest of Arden has less freedom, it is a regulated and tamed forest. it is not like the magical world in the Midsummer Night's Dream. These are the differences that I have seen until now. I am working on it.
I have to give a draft in 2 hours and I have to give 10 pages in 10 days.
Again thanks for your comment. It was helpful :)

message 4: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy | 8 comments That's a good point about how magic is used to bring about the transformation in one play and not the other.

Another similarity I remembered - in both plays the royal court is the place of conflict and the forest is the place of resolution. This is an interesting convention that Shakespeare uses considering Court was the center of the universe for many people at the time. For the aristocrats at least.

Good luck on your paper. I miss the stimulating atmosphere of the university, but I'm glad the days of writing papers are behind me. I was a terrible procrastinator which always made the end of the semester painful.

message 5: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Hi Schecharchoret!

Welcome, I often feel like this site is the most fun and best part of college days...we get to discuss and argue the work, share research and it's sort of like a pub....and yet we don't have to stress about writing papers.

I highly recommend you check out Northrop Frye....

Green World is a literary concept defined by the critic Northrop Frye in his book, Anatomy of Criticism (1957). Frye defines this term using Shakespeare's romantic comedies as the foundation. In Anatomy of Criticism, Frye describes the Green World as "the archetypal function of literature in visualizing the world of desire, not as an escape from "reality," but as the genuine form of the world that human life tries to imitate."[1] The plots of these comedies often follow the formula of action starting in the normal world and then progressing to an alternate one in which the conflict is resolved before returning to the normal world. The plot of the Shakespearean romantic comedy is built upon the tradition established by the medieval "season ritual-play,"[2] the plots of which thematically deal with the triumph of love over the wasteland. The concept of the Green World is used to contrast the civilized world of man with the natural, often harsh, natural world.

There might be some interesting things here too...


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