I've been familiar with this play for quite some time, and to be honest, it's kind of hard to muster up something to say about it. (That's really quite shocking when it comes to Shakespeare, I know...)
As always, Shakespeare is a master of comedy, and this play is no exception. I really enjoyed reading it again, since I haven't actually sat down to read it (rather than watch it on screen or stage) in at least a few years. This time, I found myself more interested in the relationship between Oberon and Titania. It always bothered me that Oberon got the boy (the changeling) in the end, and that Titania appeared to care so very little about the fact that he made her fall in love with an ass. (Pardon my language.) It seemed to me, if I were in a fight with my husband over something and he responded by mocking me in the cruelest possible way, I would be a lot MORE angry at him, not less. And yet, I find it funny...is there something wrong with me?
A lot of aspects of the play are really, if you think about them, not funny at all. Helena has so little self-confidence that she begs Demetrius to treat her like a dog. Hermia seems to be a little better, but the second she runs off with Lysander, all he wants is to get it on whether they're married or not, and she has a hard time keeping him off her. Demetrius is a fickle pig (did you know he was actually in love with Helena before chasing after Hermia? I never noticed that little detail before). Hermia and her father, Egeus, don't have a particularly good father-daughter relationship. Most of the characters have big problems, but Shakespeare manages to brush them off. And we actually go along with it.
I don't really know what to think about it. I guess this reading has raised a lot more questions for me than I've ever thought about in the past.
The next play we're reading is The Merchant of Venice, and I'm going to be honest: This is one of my least favorite of the Shakespeare plays I've read/seen. Why? I don't know. Most people love it (well, most people who love Shakespeare, that is). Maybe I just have a hard time getting around the whole anti-Semitic thing the entire play revolves around. Hah. I need some help getting motivated to read it--have you read it? What do you like about it?