|A Midsummer Night's Dream
Theme: Love and Magic
Grades: Grades 10-11
Love and magic rule the world of this fanciful comedy set in ancient
Athens and a nearby woods. The fair maiden Hermia loves Lysander, but
her father insists that Demetrius be her mate. To escape a forced marriage,
Hermia runs away with Lysander to the woods, followed by Demetrius (who
is madly in love with Hermia) and Helena (her friend who hopelessly
loves Demetrius). Unknowingly, the lovers enter the kingdom of fairies,
where love potions and magical transformations are the order of the
night. After a wild night of confusion, harmony is restored, love is
set right, and weddings are celebrated.
Have students work in small groups to create a chart that lists different
sources of romantic attraction. Encourage students to be as specific
as possible. For example, one column of the chart might list physical
attributes, such as sparkling eyes, a delicate complexion, luxurious
hair, athleticism, and so on. A second column might list personality
characteristics, such as a sense of humor, kindness, intelligence,
and so on. Challenge students to go beyond the obvious in their lists.
Have each group share its completed chart with the class. Discuss
what the charts reveal about the nature of romantic attraction.
- Linking to Today: Contemporary Images of Love.
Invite students to discuss how romantic love is portrayed in contemporary
culture. Encourage them to consider how love is depicted in movies,
television shows, commercials, music, and other media. Is love depicted
as irrational, or does it have a basis in sound judgment? Is love
measured by the excitement it creates or the commitment it elicits?
Discuss how popular images of love might influence young people or
reflect their own experiences of love.
Speaking of Love.
Ask students to imagine that they are one of the characters in the
play. Have them write and deliver a speech about the nature of love
and its importance in marriage. Instruct them to use quotes from
A Midsummer Night's Dream and refer to incidents in the play.
- Fairy Cartoons.
Have interested students create a cartoon strip of their favorite
scene in the play. Encourage them to illustrate elements that would
be especially difficult to portray onstage, such as the size of fairies
and Bottom's fantastic transformation.
- The Magic of Mythical Creatures.
Instruct students to research a type of mythical creature, such as
mermaids, gnomes, leprechauns, golems, or genies. Have them write
an essay comparing the creature that they research and the fairies
in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Here Comes the Bride.
In this project, students will work in groups to research and present
marriage customs around the world and across the ages.
- Have the class brainstorm to create a list of countries and historical
periods that students are interested in researching. Then have them
ask questions about marriage that they think should be answered, such
as the following: What are the typical ages of brides and grooms?
What role do the parents have in the choice of a marriage partner?
What financial arrangements are involved? What are the customs of
the marriage ceremony and celebration?
- Divide the class into small groups. Have each group choose a country
and a historical period. Group members should discuss and decide among
themselves how they will divide work and present information. Possible
formats include posters, collages, audiotapes, videotapes, computer
presentations, dramatic scenes, puppet shows, lectures, panel discussions,
and question-and-answer sessions.
- Each group should do the necessary research and ensure that information
about marriage customs is presented clearly and accurately. Some groups
may require rehearsal time.