By William Shakespeare
Written between 1594 to 1596

Comments by Bob Corbett
July 2010

General Note: In January 2009 I decided that I’d like to go back and read all the plays of William Shakespeare, perhaps one a month if that works out. I hadn’t read a Shakespeare play since 1959, 50 years ago! But I had read nearly all of them in college. I wanted to go back, start with something not too serious or challenging, and work my way through the whole corpus. Thus I began with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. At this time I have no idea how the project will go, nor if it will actually lead me through the entire corpus of Shakespeare’s plays. However, I will keep a separate page listing each play I’ve read with links to any comments I would make of that particular play. See: List of Shakespeare’s play’s I’ve read and commented on


This play is a madcap romp! We are at the eve of the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Four young folks figure importantly in the story, Hermia, whose father, Egeus has given his word to Lysander that he may marry her. Then there is another young noble, Demetrius, who also loves Hermia (and she him), and finally Helena, of lesser order, who is a serving girl to Hermia, but in love with Demetrius.

Typical of Shakespeare’s crazy comedies, we have both a large fairy group which includes Oberon, king, and his queen Titania. They are fussing over a young boy she is caring for, and from Oberon’s point of view, caring a bit too much. Then we have a simply crazy group of local yokels who have decided to offer a “play” to Duke Theseus for his wedding. They have absolutely no dramatic talent, skills or ideas, which, as it turns out, makes their play wildly popular with the sophisticated and snobbish nobles.

The fairies fairy, the lovers find one another, the wedding of the duke goes off well and everyone happily ever afters.

Many of the comedies of Shakespeare seem like form plays. They often appeal to misunderstandings in love affairs, to supernatural beings to straighten things out (who invariably seem to get it wrong), to all-powerful dukes and kings around whom everything centers, yet it all works out in a happily everaftering.

Nonetheless, while there are few surprises, and not many great insights into human emotions and feelings as we find in the histories and tragedies, they are still light-hearted and grand fun. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is no exception. Certainly not great, but fun and fluff, and even on a third or four read, a good time.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu



Becoming Reading Thinking Journals


Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu