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Mar 29, 2023

In this episode, we explore Shakespeare's use of political satire within the pastoral comedy genre, focusing on A Midsummer Night's Dream. The pastoral genre, which originated in ancient Greek literature, involves stories set in a rustic, rural world that idealizes the simplicity and harmony of nature. During the Renaissance through Elizabethan and Stuart England, writers continued to use the pastoral setting to explore social and political issues of their time, and Shakespeare was no exception.

We'll examine how Shakespeare drew on the political tensions and intrigues of the Elizabethan court to shape the plot and characters of A Midsummer Night's Dream, revealing the complex politics of the time. Through characters such as Titania and Oberon, we'll explore how Shakespeare used the dynamics of power and authority to comment on the political struggles of the Elizabethan court. We'll also examine how the character of Bottom can be read as a charicature of several Elizabethan political figures.

Through our analysis of A Midsummer Night's Dream, we'll gain new insights into the political and cultural context that shaped one of Shakespeare's most beloved plays. So join us for a fascinating discussion of Shakespeare's use of political satire in the pastoral comedy genre, and some piping hot tea about the Elizabethan court. 

Shakespeare Anyone? is created and produced by Kourtney Smith and Elyse Sharp.

Music is "Neverending Minute" by Sounds Like Sander.

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Works referenced:

Andrews, Richard. "A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Italian Pastoral." Transnational Exchange in Early Modern Theater. Routledge, 2016. 65-78. (if I have time)

Hunt, Maurice. "A Speculative Political Allegory in A Midsummer Night's Dream." Comparative Drama 34.4 (2000): 423-453.

Montrose, Louis Adrian. “Of Gentlemen and Shepherds: The Politics of Elizabethan Pastoral Form.” ELH, vol. 50, no. 3, 1983, pp. 415–59. JSTOR, Accessed 4 Mar. 2023.

Rickert, Edith. “Political Propaganda and Satire in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ II.” Modern Philology, vol. 21, no. 2, 1923, pp. 133–54. JSTOR, Accessed 29 Dec. 2022.

Swann, Marjorie. “The Politics of Fairylore in Early Modern English Literature.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 2, 2000, pp. 449–73. JSTOR, Accessed 4 Mar. 2023.