Monthly Archives: September 2015

Role Reversal

by Sam Jacklitsch (Circle 1)

Throughout the reading of the first two Acts of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, it is obvious that already many lies, love triangles, and questioning role reversals are surfacing, which calls for a very interesting and enjoyable play. When we are first introduced to the Duke Orsino, it is apparent that he is very determined and confident in winning over Olivia’s hand in love and marriage. Orsino believes that he is almighty and is capable of a love so strong that it will make Olivia forget about the deaths of her brother and father. The most interesting thing about this situation is the role reversal in this play. Typically in a traditional situation of this time, Olivia would probably be married off to Orsino if that is what her father wished. Since Olivia is in the predicament she’s in, she is able to decide her own fate in who she marries or decides not to. Olivia is in control of her own life which is very uncommon to see in this time period.

Another woman that is pushing role reversal is Viola. Shakespeare has complicated the gender roles in this apparent love situation with Olivia as disguising Viola as a man when she was an upper class woman. Viola is the most interesting character thus far in making the risky and dangerous decision in disguising as a man, “Cesario.” When “he” makes his journey to confess yet again the love Orsino manifests for Olivia, it is then obvious that Olivia has fallen in love with Cesario-“I do I know not what and fear to find Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind. Fate, show thy force. Ourselves we do not owe. What is decreed must be, and be this so” (1. 2. 283). I’m beginning to see how quickly the Shakespearean world falls in love! This not only poses a problem because Olivia is not aware of this disguise but also we could see a woman dictating the relationship. The fact that Viola made the decision for herself to conduct such a plan I applaud her. She is a very smart and relentless woman who is willing to make it in this world on her own even if she has to pretend to be a man.

The last woman this far who has made an impact on the play is Maria with her quick witted plan to fool Malvolio. I think that a woman tricking a man into pretending another woman is utterly in love with him is great! Malvolio took the bait so easily and it was quite humorous to watch it in the movie because it is exactly how I pictured it in my head when I read it. Maria is Olivia’s lady in waiting, something of the sorts like a mentor. Malvolio thinks he is this larger than life man who likes to dream about bossing around, “Calling my officers about me, in my branched velvet gown, having come from a daybed, where I have left Olivia sleeping—“ (2. 5. 48). Malvolio is seriously delusional which makes the joke even funnier.

Twelfth Night thus far is such a great play and I am very excited to see how the lie about “Cesario,” the love triangle with Olivia, Viola/Cesario, and Orsino falls into place, and to see if there is more instances of woman’s role reversal.

Trickery and Deception

by Danielle Klein (Circle 2)

The themes of love triangles and deception are important ideas in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. There are layers of deception going on in this work that play into the two themes. Of course in a Shakespeare play love cannot just occur without a hitch and there is always a challenge the characters must overcome. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena loves Demetrius, but Demetrius is too in love with Hermia to even bother pursuing Helena. This situation is similar in Twelfth Night. Orsino is trying to court Olivia and sends his page Cesario, who really is a girl in disguise, to talk to Olivia. Of course this deception causes problems because Olivia falls in love with Cesario, creating a love triangle.

Deception is a major theme in this work. Viola who was well off in social standing finds herself on the shore of Illyria after her ship is wrecked. Instead of using her social standing to her advantage she decides to disguise herself as a man named Cesario and work for Duke Orsino. I bet nobody was surprised when they found out that Viola falls in love with Orsino, but of course she cannot tell him because she is disguised as a man! Continuing with the love web trend, Orsino is madly in love with Olivia and is trying to get her to fall in love with him. Olivia has sworn off men in honor of her brother that passed away, which is why the Duke is having such a hard time. “They say, she hath abjured the company/And sight of men” (1.2.38). He sends his new page, Cesario to try to convince Olivia to love him. This goes terribly wrong because even though Olivia has sworn off men, she falls in love with Cesario, who is actually a girl. Cesario, or Viola, is in a sticky situation because she cannot tell Olivia that she is in fact a girl.

It is almost comical that Viola is caught in this situation. Orsino even comments on Viola’s appearance. “That say thou art a man. Diana’s lip/ Is not more smooth and rubious. Thy small pipe/ Is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound,/And all is semblative a woman’s part” (1.4.31-34). He basically says that although Cesario is a man he resembles a woman because his lips are smooth, his voice is high, and he looks feminine. This is obviously ironic because Cesario is really Viola. It can also be assumed that Orsino is somewhat attracted to Cesario because of his feminine qualities. I have to say that when I first started reading the dialogue between Olivia and Viola I had to remember that Viola was the one in disguise or I would get confused since it never indicated that Cesario was a person speaking. It is also rather amusing to see how quickly Olivia falls in love with Cesario, especially after she had sworn off love for good. The reader cannot help but feel a little bad for Olivia because we know that the person she has fallen in love with is not who they claim to be and is in fact another girl.

I’m excited to continue reading and find out what happens to Viola and her love triangle between Olivia and Orsino. I wonder how far Viola is going to be able to keep up with her disguise and what will happen when Orsino and Olivia find out that Cesario is in fact a girl. I’m also interested to see what happens when Viola’s twin brother Sebastian visits Orsino. I also cannot help but think about the movie She’s The Man when reading this work and the similarities and obvious differences from both works.


by Kyrstin Gallagher (Circle 3)

Masking in this play is very interesting to me. We have already seen it several times and have only read the first two acts. The first time we see it is with Viola, she disguises herself as a young man, Cesario. This was intriguing because it is not entirely clear why she wants to be disguised as a man. She is of high status and could do well if others knew who she was, but instead she chooses to live as a man: “Conceal me what I am, and be my aid,/ For such a disguise as happy shall become/ the form of my intent” (1.2.49-51). It could be so that she has the freedom to move about as a man does, which makes since, but a woman of her time would usually want to be provided for, which would have been done had she revealed her true identity. It makes for a comical addition to the play; A woman dressed as a man, who would have ironically already been played by a man in a show. It is one of the aspects that helps to make this comedy a comedy.

We see masking again when Olivia hides her face and will not reveal who she is to Cesario. She is hiding her true identity because she is intrigued by this persistent young man, but she is not yet sure if she can trust him. So she plays with him. Some of it seems to be for her benefit. She wants to play with him and dangle herself right in front of him without really showing herself. She also wants him gone at the beginning. She doesn’t want company. She is in morning. She hides her face and says, “Speak to me, I shall answer for her” (1.5.150). She pretends to be a lady in waiting, but once she hears him out she wants o know more about him. She reveals herself and asks about him and why he has come. She is far more interested in him than in Orsino, whom he came to woo her for: ” …Let him send no more,/ Unless, perchance, you come to me again” (1.5.251-252). Her mask is uncovered once she feels she has something to chase. In this case it is Cesario, whom she will never be with. The masking causes much interest but a lot of confusion.

Even Orsino wears a bit of a mask. Yes, he wears his heart in his sleeve and is quite in love with Olivia, but he doesn’t go to woo her himself. He knows that she will not allow him to see her, so to trick her he sends Cesario. He is someone she can relate to, according to Orsino: “Diana’s lip/ Is not more smooth and dubious, thy small pipe/ is as the maiden’s organ” (1.5.30-32). He is very much like a woman, which readers find funny and ironic, and that makes him more likely to be admitted to see Olivia. He is not being entirely honest  he uses Cesario as a sort of mask so that someone is able to profess his love for her.

The last form of masking we have seen so far is Maria and Sir Toby writing the letter to Malvolio as Olivia. They want to play with his mind so they disguise themselves in a letter and play with his mind: “…Observe him for the/ love of mockery, for I know this letter will make a contempla-/ tive idiot of him” (2.5.15-17). They use his vanity and narcissism to fool him into believing that Olivia loves him. They trick him into doing things that Olivia will hate, and that will be completely inappropriate in a house of mourning.

Masking is very prominent in this play and I see it causing a lot more conflicts in the rest of the play. I can see how this element would help to creat a fantastic comedy with all of the costumes and deceit. It seems to be leading towards a much bigger and very ironic conflict in the end.

The Unknown Beloved

by Nicole Short (Circle 5)

“To the unknown beloved:”

So starts the fake love letter Malvolio finds in Olivia’s garden, planted there by Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Fabian and Maria. And although Malvolio is fooled by the words in the note he believes was written by Olivia, he’s not the only “unknown beloved” in Twelfth Night. The first two Acts of the play focus on the construction of the “knot,” as Viola calls it, of a love triangle marked by disguise, misinterpretation, and fantasy.

I had some trouble grappling with the concept of love as it played out in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and reading Twelfth Night has further complicated the issue for me. In Midsummer, romantic love is easily mutable, and also somewhat arbitrary. There’s very little difference between Lysander and Demtrius, but Hermia just has to love and marry Lysander. Helena is consistently insulted and put down by Demetrius, but she continues to love him with all of her heart. Love in Shakespeare’s plays chooses its victims mercilessly and seemingly without reason, and those under its spell are hopeless to escape.

All of this made me wonder: why do we love the ones we love? Is it an Elizabeth Barrett Browning “love for love’s sake only” kind of situation, or does compatibility play a role?

In Twelfth Night, the idea of love is complicated by the introduction of disguises: the idea of romantic love as not love for who a person truly is, but rather love for what one imagines a person to be, love as an art not for the heart but for the imagination.

“So full of shapes is fancy,” says the Duke in the opening soliloquy of Twelfth Night, “that it alone is high fantastical” (I.i.14).

Everyone involved in Twelfth Night‘s love triangle is in love with a stranger, in a way. Viola disguises herself as Caesario from the one she loves, the Duke, who loves Olivia. But Olivia doesn’t love the Duke, and is fooled by Viola’s disguise–and so loves Caesario (who’s really Viola). Even Olivia herself is veiled.

This all makes for a funny situation for sure, but Shakespeare also seems to be commenting on the role of appearances and illusion in romantic love. Each of us wears a disguise even in wearing our own faces. The Duke loves Olivia, but has he ever even spoken to her? Olivia loves Caesario, who, apart from his appearance, doesn’t even exist.

Love–at least the love at work in this play, love at first sight–is inherently shallow and inherently illusory. It is love for love’s sake, but it is also a love of the unknown.

Connecting the Dots between Reading and Acting Twelfth Night

by Alexa Bashford (Circle 6)

Twelfth Night is a comedy written by William Shakespeare in 1601-1602 for the close of the Christmas season. You’d think having acted in an abridged production of Twelfth Night and already knowing the general storyline would make a blog post for this class easier to write. I would say that it doesn’t simply because I am so incredibly tempted to spoil the rest of the story for those of you who are only reading it for the first time. Instead, I’ll try and focus on my experiences acting it out and comparing them to the “just” reading it now, four years after I appeared in the production.

As I read through the first two acts, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how me and my fellow cast members acted the play out. As we had more females than males, we chose to reverse the genders of all the characters we featured in our production, but they still kept their original character’s personality. This made the plot of our Twelfth Night production even more intriguing. As a result, I often wonder what Shakespeare would have thought about our production. Thus, Olivia became Orsino, and Orsino became Olivia. In my case, I played two characters that were merged together, Valentine and Curio, who was simply known as Valentina.

As we were putting on this production of Shakespeare in the style of Mean Girls, we set the plot at a high school and it was decided that we were to recite our lines with Valley Girl accents. It took forever for all of us cast members to stop giggling during rehearsals while trying to learn our lines. I mean, who couldn’t giggle while listening to Orsino/Olivia’s speech “If music be the food of love, play on…” at the very beginning of Act One performed with the accent of a California airhead?

I have to say it was interesting to be a part of a production where I was able to play a Plastics-esque character while reciting Shakespeare. I chose to model my performance after the character Karen Smith in Mean Girls, as an obedient but ditzy servant to the truly popular girl Olivia at Illyria High School. For my character, I sometimes would just randomly trail off in the middle of a line to play up the fact that my character was a dumb subservient. In our production, the phrase “That’s so fetch” from Mean Girls evolved into “That’s so Feste”, an offstage joke meant to pun on none of our characters really liking Feste.

It’s both a weird and fascinating experience now simply reading through the whole of Twelfth Night as compared to when I was in my local production of it. I hadn’t read the whole thing before I was in that production; I was only knowledgeable about the scenes featured in our production. This class is my first time reading Twelfth Night as a whole. Though we kept many of the important scenes intact in our production, it’s weird to now suddenly be able to fill in the blanks between scenes I never knew existed before. Like nonexistent memories suddenly being remembered or something.

Though it’s odd to suddenly make connections where none existed before for me in my experience of reading Twelfth Night, I look forward to reading the rest of it and getting the complete story once and for all.

The Clever Women and their Doofs

by Shannon Plackis (Circle 7)

One of the most interesting aspects of Twelfth Night thus far, is the blatant inversion of power within gender roles. When mulling over the characters after class, I was rather surprised to realize that nearly all of the male characters we have been properly introduced to are quite foolish and/or gullible characters that are easily being hoodwinked by the women in the play. The women, surprisingly enough, seem to hold all the power. This of course is playing with the inversions that take place during the Twelfth Night celebrations and it can be inferred that this is one of the main disorders that will need to be solved by the end of the comedy.

In this examination, I will focus on the male and female characters that have been given a decent amount of attention in the first two acts (Sebastian and Antonio shall not be discussed due to the limited information the reader has received on their characters). Viola is a noblewoman who disguises as a man for her own safety/convenience who somehow manages to fool everyone, in particular, Orsino. Orsino is a Duke who is dead-set on wooing a woman who clearly wants nothing to do with him. He can’t even go to her court himself, he instead sends his page, Viola, who he still hasn’t figured out is a woman. He doesn’t even become suspicious when Viola says things that clearly hint at the truth: “I am all the daughters of my father’s house, and all the brothers too […]” (2.4. 119-120). Olivia is also a noblewoman who is now in charge of her household after her father and brother have passed. She is hesitant to marry and lose her power. Sir Toby, her kinsman, is a drunk. Sir Andrew is a rather dim man who is easily outwitted by Maria, a lady in Olivia’s household, upon their first meeting:

MARIA: Now sir, thought is free. I pray you, bring your hand to the’ buttery-bar, and let it drink.

SIR ANDREW: Wherefore, sweetheart? What’s your metaphor?

MARIA: It’s dry, sir.

SIR ANDREW: Why, I think so. I am not such an ass but I can keep my hand dry. But what’s your jest?

MARIA: A dry jest, sir. (1.3. 58-64).

Maria again proves herself to be clever when she later is able to devise a letter to

fool Malvolio, Olivia’s puffed up steward, into thinking Olivia is in love with him. Although Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are involved in the trick, it is Maria who is able to write the convincing letter. Immediately it is clear the characters of Orsino, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Malvolio seem to be dopey characters while the ladies are holding the power, whether the men are aware or not. Viola and Maria in particular succeed in fooling Orsino and Malvolio respectively.

It is not odd for women to find power through trickery in older works of text. In fact, it seems to be the only outlet for agency within previous literature. Characters such as Duessa in The Faerie Queene, Morgan le Fay in the King Arthur legends, and even Goneril and Regan in Shakespeare’s own King Lear are prime examples of mischievous women who find power in their deceptions and manipulations. However, what does seem to be unique in Twelfth Night is that Maria and Viola aren’t attempting to fool people out of wickedness. Maria’s trick is rather a silly joke she is taking part in with Sir Toby and Sir Andrew. It is unclear why exactly Viola is fooling the Duke but whether it be for safety or convenience or some other reason, it is certain she isn’t trying to be cruel. These women aren’t being portrayed as evil, badly behaved women but instead are sympathetic and admired. Sir Toby even praises Maria for her skills, “I could marry this wench for this device” (2.5. 158). It seems her cleverness isn’t threatening but instead, attractive.

The general gist of gender roles thus far in the play seem to be that the women are the rational characters who are able to fool the men, establishing their power of them. Cleverness in a woman is also seen as positive rather than wicked. It will be interesting to see how the play will end and whether these attitudes/power dynamics will change in order to resolve this certain social disorder.

Love and a Lack Thereof

by Ryan Lavoie (Circle 7)

Whether or not one has actually read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it is a well-known fact that this is a comedy rich in love—be it mutual, unrequited, parental, etc. In fact, the word “love” (or some variation of it) is mentioned 178 times in the text and almost all of the main characters are in or desire to be in a romantic relationship. Why then, does it seem as though Shakespeare’s second most well-known love story (behind Romeo and Juliet) is full of flawed relationships that seem—at best—negatively influential with a slight power imbalance and—at worst—deeply obsessive and life ruining? Before answering that, however, I feel as if it is necessary to discuss just what kind of relationships we are dealing with.

The first couple we are introduced to is Theseus and Hippolyta. Hippolyta was the leader of a great tribe of Amazon women—fierce warriors whose only connection with men came when it was time to breed or time to kill. It stands to reason that a leader of a matriarchal society such as this would never willingly enter wedlock with a man. In fact, Theseus says: “Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword/ And won thy love doing thee injuries” (1.i.17-18). Ignoring the Freudian implications of the word “sword,” Theseus clearly states the fact that he has won the right to marry Hippolyta through violence, by conquering her. By today’s standards, that would fall under the categories of sexual assault or Stockholm syndrome—not the kind of love we would see in a Disney movie.

The next version of love (or lack thereof) that occurs in this play is that between Hermia and her father, Egeus. Hermia, who has fallen madly in love with Lysander, is willing to go against her father’s will and therefore, against Athenian law in order to be with this man. At first, her father’s words come across as slightly controlling when he says: “With cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart,/ Turned her obedience (which is due to me)/ To stubborn harshness” (1.I.37-39). Already we see a lack of paternal love and more of a proprietor’s right over his daughter. Later, his words become even harsher and downright wicked: “As she is mine, I may dispose of her,/ Which shall be either to this gentleman/ Or to her death, according to our law” (1.i.43-44). It is as if we are watching a child unwilling to share his toy—“if I cannot have it then no one can.” There is no fatherly love here where there should be.

My favorite relationship in the play (as it is more or less creepy than the other two—depending on who you talk to) is between Demetrius and Helena. Unrequited love at its finest—Helena’s obsession over this man is unparalleled to anything I have seen before. She is willing to devote herself to Demetrius completely. At one point, she says:

I am your spaniel, and, Demetrius,

The more you beat me I will fawn on you.

Use me but as your spaniel: spurn me, strike me,

Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave

(Unworthy as I am) to follow you.

What worser place can I beg in your love

(And yet a place of high respect with me)

Than to be usèd as you use your dog? (2.i.210-217)

Seven lines of text may be a little too long to include in a blog entry but I couldn’t leave out a single word of this speech. It shows that she is not only willing to give up her freedom and health to Demetrius, but she would give up her own humanity. All I can say is that she’d be hard-pressed to find a Hallmark card to accurately represent this kind of love.

While Shakespeare has taken it to the extreme in these examples—and while there are foils of each of these relationships which are quite a bit healthier—Lysander says what I believe to be the very heart of the play: “The course of true love never did run smooth” (1.i.136). The main focus of this story is that love is not easy nor is it always fun; in fact, it is messy and more often than not—it does not work out in our favor. So despite the hyperbole, A Midsummer Night’s Dream does give a fairly accurate description of what love is—the good and the bad.

A Midsummer Night’s Fairytale

by Christine Fahnestock (Circle 6)

The first two acts of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare alluded to several fairy tale elements that were twisted into a real life narrative / play, and I spent a lot of my time thinking about how that was executed.  These fairy tale elements are not really something you’d expect to see in a Shakespeare play, as most of his work focuses on comedies, tragedies, and histories, focusing on events that were likely to take place during his time period.

The play takes place in Athens originally, and then begins to shift towards the woods outside of the city parameters.  The woods themselves have an almost mystical quality to them which the audience sees carried out throughout the play. When Demetrius and Hermia agree to meet in the woods to leave behind Athens and its laws that ensure the two cannot marry because it is against Hermia’s father’s wishes, the heavy fairy tale elements of the play begin.

The fairy tale aspect that stands out the most is within Act II when Oberon and Titania are revealed as characters in the play once Demetrius and Hermia are in the woods.  Oberon and Titania are the fairy King and Queen that inhabit the woods; Shakespeare writes of a smaller, separate world that exists in the woods, and once Demetrius and Hermia are there, these two worlds collide and a new conflict is brought to the stage.  When Puck, another fairy, gets the love-in-idleness flower and pours the juices over the eyelids of Demetrius, the mystical world and the real world collide.  The flower’s magical powers—to make one fall in love with the first thing it sees—are also extremely magical, as well as the history as to how the flower came to exist.

While this may not necessarily be a direct fairy tale element, Theseus’ will to bend to Egeus’s commands/wishes seemed sort of fairy-tale-like. In a situation like that, most of the time the person in Theseus’ position would not walk into a situation like that so blindly and bend to the wishes of Egeus as though they were in a controlled state.  I saw the parallel between the love-in-idleness flower and Theseus’s state; when under the effect of the flower, the person effected will act almost in a zombie-like state and completely devote themselves to the object or person that they first see.  While Theseus isn’t necessarily infatuated with Egeus, he did bend to the will of him immediately.  The opinion that the woman is owned by the father/husband and should obey their commends was popular during Shakespeare’s time and the time period of this play, but nevertheless, someone in Theseus’s position would have thought through their actions and words before acting.

The fairy aspect of the play reminded me of Edward Spencer’s “The Faerie Queen”, just because of the two different worlds that are collided suddenly because of a particular element in the plot.  You have a realistic world with realistic characters, that have a specific plot line and/or conflicts that they battle through and follow, and you also have a really mystical magical world that has developed characters and plots / conflicts that they follow.

The question I am left asking myself (and will hopefully answer with more reading / more careful analysis of the text) is whether or not there is an intended parallel between the fairy world’s conflict and the real world’s conflict.

Twisted Love

by Dea Barbieri (Circle 5)

When I read the first two acts of Midsummer Night’s Dream I was immediately taken aback by the disrespect and even violence shown towards the women in the play. A certain layer of sexism is to be expected when reading any of Shakespeare’s plays, and from any given piece of literature from this time, but I think what struck me the most was the relationship we’re introduced to right at the beginning of the play between Hippolyta and Theseus. Theseus, the Duke of Athens, conquered the Amazons and took Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons to be his wife; “Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword/And won thy love doing thee injuries” (1.1.16). I liked that we talked about different interpretations of their union because I immediately saw it as a violent relationship; the fact that he conquered her in battle is telling enough. I thought it was interesting that some people didn’t necessarily see their relationship as being violent in any way, merely as something that Hippolyta had to tolerate. I also liked the mention of the different interpretations that the Hudson Valley Shakespeare preformed this summer and that one had Hippolyta on the ground as an animal-like figure. When I read their interaction in the first scene I could definitely feel how diminished Hippolyta must feel going from being the queen of the Amazons in a female-centric culture to becoming someone’s wife against her will.

While I did have quite a negative reaction to the way the women are treated, after class on Tuesday and the discussions that we had let me see some of the more positive aspects of the women in the play as well. Something I didn’t really pick up on when I first read the play was how beautiful Titania’s speech is about the woman whose son she later adopts after the woman dies in childbirth. She speaks very passionately about the woman, but not in an erotically charged way in my opinion. The power of female friendship is very strong and something that a lot of men do not understand. Women are able to connect with one another on a deep level and take care of one another. For all the plays I’ve read by Shakespeare, this is perhaps the first time I’ve seen such a beautifully worded description of a female friendship and it stands in direct contrast and opposition to the men in the play. I noted in particular the repetition of “For her sake” in the last two lines of her speech, emphasizing that Titania is truly doing a selfless act by adopting the woman’s son. For all the violence and ignorance the women are forced to deal with in Midsummer’s, I believe that these small sections of the play where the woman show just how strong they are will continue to be an important theme throughout the rest of the play.

Truth and Lies in Act I, Scene i of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by Antonia Carey (Circle 4)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is well known for questioning reality. A pattern of constantly questioning of truth versus lies or dreams, veracity or deception, is established from the beginning of the play, and we see many examples of it in just the first act, and it is constantly built upon The first moment where authenticity can be questioned is the opening of the show, between Theseus and Hippolyta. Theseus is obviously impatient, but Hippolyta seems more reserved and refers to the marriage as their “solemnities.” While “solemnities” does refer to the full formal religious occasion of marriage, is also implies a dignified and serious attitude. We know that Hippolyta was Queen of the Amazon, and Theseus has told us that he won her in battle (1.1.16-17). He then says that he wants to wed her ‘in another key,’ but they only have four days for this drastic shift in their relationship to occur. The tenuousness of this relationship calls into question the nature of their affections; are they genuine love or fondness, or are the feelings being forced by the situation?

Later in that same scene, Lysander and Hermia plot to steal away from Athens in the night(1.1.156). This situation offers an interesting mix of truth and lies. They are going to cheat Egeus and Theseus of their say in Hermia’s marriage so that they can live truthfully to themselves. Were they to stay, they would have to lie and deny or suppress their love for each other. Yet, in their deception they are truthful to Helena, which later causes a great deal of complications, and makes one wonder whether this honesty was slightly misplaced. Helena’s betrayal of their plot to Demetrius is a form of deception as well; Hermia and Lysander implicitly place in her the trust of silence and secrecy, and she disregards that to gain Demetrius’s favor (1.1.246). In the same speech Helena has also told us of Demetrius’s lies to her, which Lysander also pointed out in lines 106-110. This web of lies and deception only gets more complex as the show progresses, and upon introduction of the fairies, also includes the question of where fairies and human worlds collide or separate, which is real, or if both can co-exist as reality.