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Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and EnvironmentThe Early Modern 'Fated Sky'$
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Sophie Chiari

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442527

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442527.001.0001

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‘We see / The seasons alter’: Climate Change in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

‘We see / The seasons alter’: Climate Change in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

(p.31) Chapter 1 ‘We see / The seasons alter’: Climate Change in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare's Representation of Weather, Climate and Environment

Sophie Chiari

Edinburgh University Press

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595-96), wetness informs the play as a whole. The moon spreads humidity in Athens while the weather turns rainy and cataclysmic, due to the unruly behaviour of Oberon and Titania who are the source of the general confusion turning the world upside-down. Their quarrel over the little Indian boy alters the cycle of the seasons and, as a result, the would-be paradise of the forest is ‘filled up with mud’ (2.1.91). If Titania’s lines on climatic ‘distemperature’ (2.1.109) certainly have some sort of topical relevance, reducing them to a mere commentary on the vagaries of the English weather in the 1590s would hardly do justice to the richness and complexity of Shakespeare’s festive comedy. This chapter shows that the Dream and its ever-shifting environment serve as an experimental ground to challenge medieval beliefs and to test fresh hypotheses, such as the idea that people’s attitudes may in fact be responsible for climatic imbalance.

Keywords:   A Midsummer’s Night Dream, moon, rain, natura corrupta, seasonal disturbance, misrule

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