By Roger Warren (auth.)
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Extra info for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Text and Performance
It suggests a revelation of the true nature of the lovers' minds and affections. 'Transfigured' occurs nowhere else in Shakespeare's work; but 'fancy' and 'constancy' occur frequently, especially in connection with lovers' experience. John Dover Wilson usefully describes the implications of 'fancy', by which Shakespeare and his contemporaries understood both what we now call sentimentality and, as the word still signifies, a passing inclination or whim. Originally a contraction ofJantasy, the meaning of ,illusion' , 'error', or 'unreality' yet clung to it, especially when the word was used in connection with Love.
She is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall seeit will fall pat as I told you. [v i 179-84] The patiently explanatory tone of this is very funny, as the star actor takes the trouble to explain the mysteries of his art to the uninitiated; but it also establishes a sense of communication between Bottom and Theseus, achieved because Theseus makes the effort to enter the world of the play, and Bottom to break out from it in order to clarify points for him. This delightful moment is very typical of Shakespearean comedy: it uses humour to express a human relationship, just as there was communication, as well as incongruity, between Bottom and Titania earlier.
183). Jan Kott's and Peter Brook's attitudes to Shakespeare's text closely correspond. Kott's dismissive phrase 'chattering about flowers' clearly implies that the language which Shakespeare gives to Titania is of no account and can simply be disregarded. The text itself does not matter to him, only what Brook calls the 'hidden play behind the text'. But of course the dramatic point which Shakespeare is making depends upon his very precise use of language, upon the humorous contrast between the formal lyrical verse with which Titania declares her love for Bottom, and the colloquially self-important prose with which he responds to it.