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To these stories he adds still another: the misadventures of a group of tradesmen who rehearse and stage a play for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Shakespeare skillfully arranges all the story lines into a unified whole—a kind of symphony, with a major theme, love. He even blends ancient Greek and Elizabethan societies and customs into his mix. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in verse interspersed with prose passages and, occasionally, a poem or poetic passage.

A Midsummer Night's Dream contains numerous poems and poetic passages, along with the traditional verse and prose passages, to make it one of Shakespeare's most poetic play. Verse is an elegant collection of lines that follow a regular, rhythmic pattern. In Shakespeare, this pattern is usually iambic pentameter, a rhythm scheme in which each line usually has five pairs of syllables.

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Each pair consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Verse resembles poetry, and the word verse is often used as a synonym for poetry. However, Shakespeare's iambic-pentameter verse contains no rhyming lines, as does his poetry.

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An explanation of iambic-pentameter verse appears below. Prose, of course, is the language of everyday conversation, letters, lectures, sermons, newspaper articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles. Prose has no rhyme or rhythm scheme. In a Shakespeare play, royal, noble, and upper-class characters usually speak in verse; commoners generally speak in prose.

In a prose passage in A Midsummer Night's Dream and other Shakespeare plays, the first line begins with a capital letter and each succeeding line with a lower-case letter unless the first word of a line is a proper noun or the beginning of a new sentence. Here is a prose passage spoken by Bottom. Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout, the tinker! I have had a most rare vision.

I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was,—and methought I had,—but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. Notice that the lines in the prose passage continue to the right margin and that the lines in the verse passage, because each has only ten syllables, do not.

In poetic passages and poems in A Midsummer Night's Dream , end rhyme occurs.

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So does a regular, rhythmic pattern, as in verse passages. Here is a poetic passage in which Lysander confides to Helena that he and Hermia plan to steal away to the forest. The rhyming words are boldfaced. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold. And here is a poem recited by Puck as he stands alone on the stage. Note that one of the rhyming pairs moon and fordone contains words with a similar—but not the same—sound.

Such rhymes are called near rhymes, slant rhymes, or half-rhymes. Under " Format: Verse, Prose, Poetry ," you read that Shakespeare wrote his plays in verse, prose, poems, and poetic passages. You also read that he used a rhythm pattern called iambic pentameter in verse passages. To understand iambic pentameter, you first need to understand the term iamb pronounced EYE am.

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An iamb is a unit of rhythm consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Iambs can also consist of one word with a single unstressed unaccented syllable followed by another word with a single stressed accented syllable example: the KING. In addition, they may consist of a final unstressed syllable of one word followed by an initial stressed syllable of the next word. The following lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream demonstrate the use of iambs.

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The stressed syllables or words are capitalized. In the word pentameter , the prefix pent- means five. The suffix -meter refers to the recurrence of a rhythmic unit also called a foot. Thus, because the above lines contain iambs, they are iambic. Because they contain five iambs or five feet they are said to be in iambic pentameter.

A line with five iambs, or five feet, contains ten syllables, as in the quoted lines immediately above. When the words at the end of each line of iambic pentameter do not rhyme, the lines are said to be in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Another term for unrhymed iambic pentameter is blank verse. Occasionally, a line in blank verse may have nine syllables, or perhaps ten or eleven, instead of the usual ten.

The reason is that the importance of conveying the right meaning dictates veering from standard practice. At times, a passage mainly in blank verse may contain a line with even fewer syllables. Such a deviation may occur when a character ends a passage with a transitional statement, as in the following. Note that the first three lines each have five iambs, or ten syllables, but that the last line has only three iambs, or six syllables.

A deviation from iambic pentameter may also occur when a character responds to a question with a short reply, such as yes or no. Blank verse was modeled after ancient Greek and Latin verse. In , Italian Giovanni Rucellai was the first poet to label the unrhymed iambic pentameter in his poetry as blank verse versi sciolti in Italian.

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It was about an early British king. Later in the same century, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare turned blank verse into high art when they used it in their plays. Shakespeare used it in all of his plays. Supplies for Teachers. Love's Pitfalls Lysander sums up the main theme of the play when he tells Hermia, "The course of true love never did run smooth" 1. Even the relationship between Theseus and Hippolyta did not begin smoothly, as Theseus observes.

In Greek mythology, Hippolyta was the queen of the Amazons, a race of warrior women in Scythia, a country that was between the Black Sea and the Aral Sea.

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Theseus, a king of Athens and courageous adventurer, decided one day that he would marry Hippolyta, so he traveled to her country to woo her. But after she refused his proposal, he kidnapped her, precipitating a war with the Amazons.

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  8. Theseus won the war and—according to Shakespeare's interpretation of the myth—the hand of Hippolyta. For all the other lovers in the forest outside Athens, the course of love likewise does not run smooth. Oberon and Titania argue over the changeling boy. Lysander, who deeply loves Hermia, announces that he loves Helena after Puck enchants him with the magical juice of a flower. Helena, meanwhile, chases after Demetrius, who despises her. Demetrius, also enchanted by flower juice, chases after Hermia. In the end, all these lovers make up.

    In the tradesmen's play, Pyramus and Thisbe are forbidden by their familes to see one another and limited to communicating through a hole in a wall separating their dwellings. After they run off to meet in the woods, Pyramus mistakenly thinks a lion has killed Thisbe, and he draws a dagger or sword and kills himself.

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    When Thisbe comes upon his body, she stabs herself with the same weapon. Love's Elusiveness Love is elusive. Theseus had to go to war to win Hippolyta. Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena have to chase through woods, endure confusion, and become victims of Puck's pranks before they can rest content at the sides of their true loves.

    For poor Pyramus and Thisbe, togetherness eludes them forever. Fairies sing and dance. The mischievous sprite Puck uses enchanted flower juice to alter the reality that the lovers see. The fairy king Oberon becomes invisible to eavesdrop on a conversation between Demetrius and Helena 2. Puck gives the tradesman Bottom the head of an ass. And the young lovers confuse the dream world with the real world. As Demetrius says,. Such trials test a couple's patience and faith in one another and cause the relationship to mature—and, in some cases, to disintegrate.