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“Nay, faith, let not me play a woman. I have a beard coming” (MND. I. ii. 41-42): Dramatic illusion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Par Geneviève Lheureux : Maître de conférences - Université Lyon 3 – Jean Moulin
Publié par Marion Coste le 22/03/2010

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream has often proved particularly popular in schools, and is probably one of the most regularly taught and performed comedies in English-speaking countries. Young lovers, fairy creatures, an archetypal monster, half-man half beast, all seem to appeal naturally to the pupils' imaginations. The play, however, cannot be reduced to a light-hearted comedy, mainly interested in bringing several weddings to a successful conclusion since, as Richard Dutton writes in his introduction to the New Casebook (1996, 1), it "has been peculiarly central to the critical concerns of the last twenty years". As recent articles suggest, the comedy can be approached from a psychoanalytical or feminist point of view, but it also "offers the most powerful invitation to explain it by some theory of festive practices" (Patterson, 1996, 178). For Louis Adrian Montrose (1996, 101-138), the play explores the contradictions inherent to a society that was predominantly patriarchal yet ruled by a woman, both her subjects' mother and their Virgin Queen. Mary Ellen Lamb (2000, 277-312) concentrates on tensions within Elizabethan popular culture too and shows that MND questions the commonly held hierarchy that deemed classical literature, mostly available to a male, educated elite, superior to folk tales that women, children, and lower classes were exposed to and propagated. If the worlds of Greek mythology and Celtic legends are first kept separate, they start merging from Act II onwards since Oberon's interventions regularly redirect the development of the main plot. To this already complex dramatic structure, Shakespeare added a third plot centred on a group of mechanicals, who resemble contemporaneous English artisans more closely than their Athenian predecessors, although the only reason for their presence on stage seems to be the interlude they have been selected to perform on Theseus' wedding day. Plays-within-the-play are of course a fairly common device in Shakespeare's works. The Murder of Gonzago performed in front of the Danish court in Hamlet (III. ii) is probably the most famous example. But in Henry IV, Part One (II. iv.) the Prince and Falstaff also engage in two successive improvisations: Falstaff first plays the king, and the prince his own role; then, they exchange parts. In both cases, the plays-within-the-play contribute to the development of the main plot. In Hamlet, The Murder of Gonzago, which Hamlet renames The Mousetrap, does function like a trap since it confirms that his uncle Claudius is guilty of his own father's murder. In Henry IV, Part One, the Prince banishes Falstaff at the end of the second performance, which anticipates the final scene in the second part of the play, when he banishes Falstaff for good. On the other hand, in The Taming of the Shrew, the whole of the main plot is presented as a comedy put up for the benefit of Christopher Sly, so that the play is shown for what it is: a play. Pyramus and Thisbe seems to fulfil a similar metadramatic function, especially if we follow what Annabel Patterson calls "the occasionalist argument" (1996, 178) and believe that MND was written for a wedding. The tragedy, based on a narrative from Ovid's Metamorphoses is, however, presented from the very beginning as nothing more than an interval, solely destined to entertain the newly-married couples before it is time for them to go to bed:

Theseus : Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
V. i. 32-34

It was first indirectly alluded to in I. i., when the Duke ordered Philostrate to "Stir up the Athenian youths to merriments" (I. i. 13) but before Peter Quince's company have a chance to perform in front of their aristocratic audience, they meet twice for the purpose of rehearsing, although on both occasions they make remarkably little progress. I. ii. might in fact be seen as entirely superfluous since Quince only manages to distribute the several parts among his amateur actors, which suggests that Shakespeare might have easily dispensed with the scene altogether. At the beginning of III. i., the characters again express the fear that they might generate too much dramatic illusion, which could cause them all to be hanged; they imagine ways to palliate the bareness of the stage, and eventually start running through their lines when they are brutally interrupted by Robin Goodfellow, who turns Nick Bottom into a lowly, comic version of the Minotaur. Bottom's "translation" allows him to thread his way into fairyland and weave the two subplots together, but it also contributes to the parodic dimension of the mechanicals' world. In his 1989 production for the RSC, director John Caird chose to have Quince look like an increasingly depressed Shakespeare, an interpretation which Theseus' final evaluation of Pyramus and Thisbe as "this palpable-gross play" seems to justify. Yet, for all its obvious failings, the play-within-the-play simultaneously stages the tragic outcome that might have been the Athenian lovers' fate and defuses it. It has been described by François Laroque (1988, 121-122) as an "antimasque", a burlesque  interlude, which metamorphoses the main plot : "Pyramus and Thisbe a un rôle véritablement anamorphique par rapport à l'ensemble de la comédie dont elle reprend les termes principaux en les déformant". The point of the performance of the play-within-the play appears therefore clearly established but the reason for the two failed rehearsals that precede it might seem less definite. The late sixteenth century was a time of great changes in England: amateur companies had become all but extinct and some genres were judged archaic. In the context, a play summarized as "A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus / And his love Thisbe : very tragical mirth" might be interpreted as the butt of a satire aimed both at lay actors and earlier bombastic history plays. However, in pondering over the complexities of their task, the mechanicals radically question the workings of dramatic illusion, which nevertheless seems to operate, as Bottom's translation from a metaphorical ass to a literal one suggests.

The satirical dimension of the play-within-the-play

Peter Quince's opening question encourages the spectators to see the new characters gathered on stage as actors from the very start:

Quince : Is all our company here ?
I. ii. 1

However, this first impression is immediately qualified when he proceeds to call their names, which in each case directly derives from the individual's trade. The name of Peter Quince the carpenter comes from "quines" or "quoins", wooden wedges used by carpenters; that of Nick Bottom the weaver, from the ball of thread used by weavers. Francis Flute the bellows-mender suggests "the piping voice of an organ worked by the bellows he mends", as Peter Holland writes in his notes; Robin Starveling the tailor must be weak and thin, like all Shakespearean tailors - another tailor in Henry IV, Part Two is called Francis Feeble, and predicted to be "as valiant as the wrathful dove, or most magnanimous mouse" (III. ii. 157-158). The name of Tom Snout the tinker refers to the spout of a kettle, a utensil routinely mended by tinkers. Finally, the joiner being called Snug is also appropriate since his handiwork should fit to perfection. Significantly, he is described as the last missing element that snugly completes the cast ("Snug the joiner, you the lion's part; and I hope here is a play fitted". I. ii. 57-58). That each name should correspond to a specific trade suggests that the characters are part of a well-ordered world, in which each man's identity is defined by the function he holds in society. However, ironically, their fixed, flat, one-dimensional selves seem to make them especially unfit to perform any part other than their own. Some of them at least seem to acknowledge their predicament and Snug the joiner worries that he might not have enough time to learn his lines as the lion:

Snug: Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me; for I am slow of study.
I. ii. 59-60

His concern is obviously absurd, since it is highly unlikely for the lion to have much to say, but it is characteristic of the world of the mechanicals, in which bizarre formulations are one of the main comic devices. Quince, for instance, refers to the Duke's "wedding day at night" (I. ii. 6-7), a rather oxymoronic phrase, like the many examples of Bottom's malapropisms, such as "call them generally, man by man" (I. ii. 2-3), a contradiction in terms; "I will aggravate my voice" (73) when aggravate means intensify although Bottom intends to warble like a bird, or as he puts it to "roar you as gently as any sucking dove" (73-74), a biologically improbable metaphor. The artisans will rehearse "most obscenely" (94-95), in other words most unseemly, that is the opposite of seemly, which is what Bottom really wishes to say. All those examples of course suggest that the artisans are uneducated amateurs. Yet, as Montrose (1998, 220) suggests, they belong to the same sociological background as Shakespeare's own father, and as probable members of professional guilds, were certainly supposed to take part in mysteries, religious amateur performances meant to dramatize the Bible from Genesis to the Apocalypse on specific Feast Days (for example, in the York Cycle, the Barkers (i.e.Tanners) performed The Fall of the Angels, the Coopers, The Fall of Man, the Fishers and Mariners - rather aptly - The Flood, etc. The Mercers concluded with The Last Judgement): "Bottom is primarily the comic representative of a specific socio-economic group with its own highly articulated culture. He is not the voice of the dispossessed or the indigent but of the middling sort, in whose artisanal, civic and guild-centre ethos Shakespeare had his own roots. During his childhood in Stratford, Shakespeare would have had the opportunity and the occasion to experience the famed Corpus Christi play that was performed annually in nearby Coventry. [...] Thus, Bully Bottom, the weaver, is an overdetermined signifier, encompassing not only a generalised common voice but also the socio-cultural origins of his player-playwright - and, too, the collective socio-cultural origins of his craft. A Midsummer Night's Dream simultaneously acknowledges those origins and frames them at an ironic distance; it educes connections only in order to assert distinctions". By the time MND was written however (in late 1595 or early 1596), mystery plays had been forbidden for nearly two decades because they were associated with the old faith, and therefore believed to encourage superstition, idolatry and sedition. They were gradually replaced with new festivals, like the Queen's Accession Day, whose purpose was to celebrate and consequently consolidate the monarchy. According to Montrose (1998, 234), in choosing to have Bottom play on Theseus' wedding day, Shakespeare "firmly records the redirection of the popular dramatic impulse toward the celebration of "the princes of this world"".

Peter Quince's company therefore seems to stand for a form of dramatic practice that had more or less completely disappeared from the provinces and been gradually replaced by London-based professional companies, which benefited from royal or aristocratic patronage, like the newly-established Lord Chamberlain's Men: "[The] beginning of the fully professional, secular and commercial theatre of Elizabethan London coincides with the effective end of the religious drama and the relative decline of local amateur traditions in the rest of England" (Montrose, 1998, 222). Those traditions, which assigned a set of pre-determined roles to a specific trade, might partly explain the actors' lack of experience and discrimination in selecting a play. It might indeed seem strange for artisans to choose a dramatized version of a mythological narrative, associated in Lamb's terminology with "high culture", when they might have been expected to prefer a play that belonged to "low culture", similar to Coventry's annual Hock Tuesday play, mentioned by Montrose (1998, 223), which commemorated the city's victory over the Danes, and might have been given some local colour and adapted as a celebration of one of Athens' victories over a rival city, for instance.  The point of course, as Lamb suggests, might have been for Shakespeare to play with conventional representations and defeat some of his audience's expectations.

However, both the genre and the title of the "interlude" (I. ii. 5) also add to the satirical dimension of the play within-the-play. Interludes were short plays, often performed between the courses of a feast, that had been popular in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, but had become old-fashioned by the end of the sixteenth century. The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe is obviously reminiscent of Bottom's oxymoronic way of speaking but it also parodies the titles of such works as Preston's A Lamentable Tragedy Mixed Full of Pleasant Mirth, Containing the Life of Cambises King of Persia, published in 1569. Shakespeare will ridicule the same tragedy again later, in 1598, when Falstaff explicitly refers to the lines of its main protagonist as an example of extravagant rant:

Falstaff : Give me a cup of sack to make my eyes look red, that it may be thought I have wept, for I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein.
1H4. II. iv. 379-382

Bottom's monologue seems written in a similar style:

Bottom : The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates,
And Phibbus' car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish Fates
I. ii. 26-33

Those lines are clearly a parody of bombastic tragic diction, and Bottom's referring to "Ercles" instead of Hercules and "Phibbus" instead of Phoebus burlesques the mythological world of the main plot. However, the adaptation of this passage, which, as Holland notes, is based on Studley's translation of Seneca's Hercules Oetaeus, seems quite significant, since the original reference to "Hell gloomy gate" has been replaced by "prison gates". The "raging rocks", a metonymy for Nature, seem destined to set the characters free from their prisons in Bottom's speech, just as the woods - another metonymy for Nature since they are opposed to the city of Athens and its rigorous laws - will in MND protect the lovers from a form of imprisonment, the walls of a convent, in Hermia's case. In entering the forest, the young couples enter the "green world of comedy", to use C.L. Barber's well-known phrase, which will protect them from tragedy. As Bottom's monologue also suggests, "Phibbus'car", the sun, will eventually prevail in a play largely dominated by the moon, and "shine from far" on the lovers when they awaken from their respective dreams in IV. i. This new dawn will indeed "mar the foolish Fates", in that it will defeat Egeus' foolish decree that seals his daughter's destiny, and counteract the influence of the inconstant moon to ensure that the lovers may choose their partners once and for all.

The play-within-the-play therefore partly anticipates the development of the main plot through a complex web of images and metaphors. But it can also be interpreted as a satire of the original legend, since it might be rewritten to include parts "to tear a cat in" (I. ii. 25), a phrase that bathetically reduces the fearful lioness to a harmless feline. In Ovid's account, Pyramus and Thisbe are two young Babylonian lovers whose parents oppose their union. Consequently, they are reduced to communicating through a crack in the wall that separates their houses. They resolve to elope, like Lysander and Hermia, and agree to meet at Ninus' tomb. Thisbe, her face hidden by a veil, reaches the appointed place first, but is forced to run for her life when she sees a lioness, whose jaws are stained with her latest victim's blood, advance towards her. Left alone, the lioness tears Thisbe's veil to pieces, which causes Pyramus on his arrival to Ninus' tomb to believe that his beloved has been killed, and prompts him to commit suicide. When Thisbe returns, she finds him dying and commits suicide too. The actors' lack of skill will turn the tragic story, whose plot is in some respects similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, into a comedy. But the preliminary dialogue between the members of Quince's company stresses the conventionality of their expectations, which to a certain extent mirrors the conventionality of the young lovers' expectations: both Hermia and Lysander imply that their tragic fate is nothing less than their due since it ensures that their love is true (I. i. 134; 150-155).  When Bottom questions Peter Quince about Pyramus, he reduces the infinite variety of dramatic parts to a single alternative:

Bottom : What is Pyramus ? A lover or a tyrant ?
A lover, that kills himself, most gallantly, for love.
I. ii. 19-20

Flute offers a third possibility, which is just as archetypal if inappropriate in the context:

Flute : What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?
Quince : It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
I. ii. 39-40

Quince's use of the deontic "must" implies that the plot is based on stereotypes, which the rest of the scene systematically explores and deconstructs.

Questioning dramatic illusion

At the beginning of I. ii., Flute objects to playing a woman's part, because he has "a beard coming" (I. ii. 41-42). This short dialogue with Quince belongs to a series of standard jokes about boy actors, which emphasized their youthful and woman-like features. Hamlet has a similar example when the Prince greets the actors in Elsinore and addresses the youngest in the company:

Hamlet : What, my young lady and mistress ! By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.
Hamlet. II. ii. 421-424

In both instances, the spectators are reminded of the artificiality of Elizabethan acting, which nevertheless did not seem to interfere with the metamorphosis inherent in any theatrical experience. The solution advocated by Quince is significant in that respect: 

Quince : You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.
I. ii. 43-44

As the editor remarks, the mask Quince is referring to belongs to a long series of masks, which includes Bottom's multi-coloured beards as well as his ass's head. But Quince's suggestion also implies that Bottom's "translation" in III. i. needs not be played realistically, that the audience is meant to see that the character is simply wearing a mask (it is, besides, removed on stage in IV. i.) as if they were shown some of the tricks of the actors' trade. Yet, paradoxically, the spectators are also expected to accept that Bottom has truly been turned into a monstrous, hybrid creature. Such apparent contradiction can only be solved through what Coleridge much later termed a "willing suspension of disbelief", a disposition that he considered necessary when reading poetry but also clearly indispensable in the case of MND, since the scene makes us see the ass's head as a mere stage property and as Bottom's new head simultaneously, and so reveals the mechanisms of dramatic illusion.

Yet, the play does not only display dramatic conventions, it also seems to question them radically. Bottom's proposal to turn the play-within-the-play into a one-man-show is obviously comic since it exposes him as a ludicrously eager thespian but at a more fundamental level, it encourages the spectators to wonder about the extent to which they are prepared to suspend their disbelief. Might Thisbe's part only be played by a preferably androgynous boy with a high-pitched voice, like Flute, or could Bottom undertake it, provided he wore a mask and spoke in a "monstrous little voice" (I. ii. 46)? Bottom later offers to play the lion too, which worries Quince who thinks he might be too good at it and put the whole company at risk:

Bottom : Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will do any man's heart good to hear me. I will roar that I will make the Duke say Let him roar again, let him roar again.
Quince : An you should do it too terribly you would fright the Duchess and the ladies that they would shriek, and that were enough to hang us all.
I. ii. 63-69

Clearly, Quince's concern seems unjustified because Bottom is unlikely to be mistaken for a lion by the spectators on stage. Yet, in the next act, the audience will be required to see him transformed into an even more unbelievable creature, inherited from mythology and therefore purely imaginary, one more step removed from reality. Bottom tries to reassure his fellow actors:

Bottom : I will aggravate my voice so, that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an twere any nightingale.
I. ii. 73-75

But his suggestion in turn puts the mimetic nature of drama to the test. If art is an imitation of life, would a lion roaring like a dove or a nightingale still be identified as a lion? In other words, how far can a play diverge from reality or, conversely, to what extent should it reflect it? Such issues are particularly relevant in a comedy that includes, among other fantastic and unhistorical characters, fairies the size of an acorn (II. i. 30-31), who are sometimes seen to be invisible (II. i. 186). The following lines in the dialogue precisely stress the discrepancy between the stage picture and the reality of the actors' bodies:

Quince : You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper man as one shall see in a summer's day; a most lovely, gentlemanlike man. Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
Bottom : Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?
Quince: Why, what you will.
Bottom: I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow.
I. ii. 76-86

Quince's flattering speech is of course meant to win over Bottom, and persuade him to be satisfied with Pyramus's role since he literally looks the part. Bottom however needs a beard, whose colour, he implies, might prove crucial to the character.  There is no doubt that the colour does not matter much but the beard itself serves the same purpose as Flute's mask in that it helps to bring the character's body into being. The spectators are therefore reminded that the body that the actor shows the audience is not his own, but the character's, a distinct persona, although it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. In Christian Schiaretti's production of Coriolanus for the TNP in Villeurbanne, in 2006, the Consul was in a wheelchair. The problem was to determine whether the wheelchair was significant with regards to the tragedy. In other words, to determine who was in that wheelchair: the Consul, to signify his utter powerlessness against the likes of Coriolanus or Aufidius, or the disabled body of the actor? Schiaretti eventually revealed that the actor playing the Consul had unfortunately slipped a disk before the opening of the play, and therefore could not remain standing for the whole of the performance. The actor's body therefore sometimes prevails over the character's, which might prove confusing, as Quince realizes at his own expense when Bottom's and Flute's voices keep intruding upon those of Pyramus and Thisbe :

Bottom: Thisbe, the flowers of odious savours sweet.
Quince: Odours, odours.
Bottom: Odours savours sweet.
Flute: I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.
Quince: Ninus' tomb, man!
III. i. 77-91

Pyramus's impersonation therefore seems irremediably compromised until it is spectacularly achieved through Puck's intervention.

Reasserting dramatic illusion

Flute failing to understand that he must not speak all his lines at once, Quince makes him repeat his cue, which ensures that the spectators' attention focuses on Thisbe's comparison that likens Pyramus to an indefatigable horse, an image that is suddenly made literally true:

Flute: Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier;
Most bristly juvenile, and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse that yet would never tire
Quince: [...] You speak all your part at once, cue and all. - Pyramus, enter: your cue is past, it is never tire.
Flute: O.
As true as truest horse that yet would never tire.
Enter [Robin Goodfellow leading] Bottom with the ass-head.
Bottom: If I were fair, Thisbe, I were only thine.
Quince: O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters; fly, masters. Help!
III. i. 87-100

The metamorphosis is evidently satirical, because Bottom is not strictly transformed into a horse, but into a lesser creature, a donkey, but it seems to illustrate Theseus' theory about "the lunatic, the lover, and the poet", which he develops in V. i.:

Theseus : The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
V. i. 12-17

The metaphor, Bottom is an ass, is suddenly "bodied forth" through the power of the playwright's imagination: Bottom is turned into a real ass. The mechanicals acknowledge that fleshing out "airy nothing", thoughts or words, and turning them into identifiable characters cannot result from their limited skills and Quince suggests that they are bewitched. Magic is indeed at work in the play since the audience repeatedly witness the power of the flower called "love-in-idleness", which causes Demetrius and Lysander to switch their affections from Hermia to Helena, and Titania to fall in love with a monster. Yet, in the next scene, Puck challenges the artisans' interpretation in his dialogue with Oberon. Once again, the passage might first appear as somewhat pointless since Robin describes their aborted rehearsal and Bottom's "translation", which the spectators saw taking place a few minutes before. But if he fails to provide any new information, Puck constantly evaluates the artisans' behaviour and reactions, and specifically casts doubt upon their vision of Nature, which seems to have suddenly turned hostile: "For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch" (III. ii. 29), when it is in reality their fear that causes them to ascribe intentions to inanimate matter: "Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong / Made senseless things begin to do them wrong" (III. ii. 27-28). Puck's rational interpretation is to certain extent paradoxical since, in refuting the mechanicals' magical way of thinking, Robin seems to challenge the process of myth-making, and therefore question his own existence. It is because travelers sometimes inexplicably become lost at night that an acceptable narrative must be invented, in which an imaginary creature might be deemed accountable for their mishap.

The play therefore seems to resort to the same paradoxical device at different levels. In showing the spectators Bottom's ass-head as both the result of a magical operation, for which Robin claims responsibility, and a theatrical trick, Shakespeare both deconstructs and strengthens dramatic illusion in demonstrating that it cannot be achieved unless the audience willingly agrees to participate in it. For that matter, Theseus and his court, in V.i. seem to act as counter-examples. Their ironic comments manifest their lack of involvement and suggest that they do not share in the collective "dream" Robin refers to in the epilogue, although perhaps through no fault of the artisans'. However preposterous their acting, Pyramus's and Thisbe's deaths seem to generate a genuine, if very brief, feeling of pity and fear within the audience in most productions, as if the text irrepressibly produces its own form of magical transformation.


Editions utilisées :

DUTTON, Richard. 1996. « Introduction », dans A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ed. Richard Dutton. Londres : Macmillan Press Ltd. 1-23.

LAMB, Mary Ellen. 2000. « Taken by the Fairies : Fairy Practices and the Production of Popular Culture in A Midsummer Night's Dream », dans Shakespeare Quarterly (51). 277-312.

LAROQUE, François. 1988. « Masque et anti-masque dans Le songe d'une nuit d'été », dans Le songe et la Duchesse de Malfi. Ed. Pierre Iselin et Jean-Pierre Moreau. Limoges : Trames. 113-136.

MONTROSE, Louis Adrian. 1996. «  « Shaping Fantasies » : Figurations of Gender and Power in Elizabethan Culture », dans A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ed. Richard Dutton. Londres : Macmillan Press Ltd. 101-138.

-----------------------------------. 1998. « A Kingdom of Shadows », dans A Midsummer Night's Dream : Critical Essays. Ed. Dorothea Kehler. New York et Londres : Garland Publishing. 218-240.

PATTERSON, Annabel. 1996. « Bottom's Up : Festive Theory », dans A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ed. Richard Dutton. Londres : Macmillan Press Ltd. 172-197.


Pour citer cette ressource :

Geneviève Lheureux, "“Nay, faith, let not me play a woman. I have a beard coming” (MND. I. ii. 41-42): Dramatic illusion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream ", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), mars 2010. Consulté le 19/01/2019. URL: http://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/litterature-britannique/Shakespeare/201cnay-faith-let-not-me-play-a-woman-i-have-a-beard-coming201d-mnd-i-ii-41-42-dramatic-illusion-in-a-midsummer-night2019s-dream