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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, but still.., April 28, 2007
This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hardcover)
Most adults who read this know the basic story of the book: how King Oberon schemes to use magical lust to solve a dispute between himself and his bride Titania and how Puck, the sprite entrusted to carry out the scheme, manages to entangle four mortal lovers into the mix and nearly ruins everything. It is this scheming between Puck and Oberon that presents the main source of humor in the story; when you see two hapless men professing love to the same baffled woman and two women fighting like cats over men, you can't help but grin at the mayhem the now exasperated Oberon has caused.

However, I was never quite able to completely enjoy the humor that occured at the expense of Titania and the mortals. Call me old-fashioned, but I personally can't have a good laugh at the idea of using others like puppets in a play and my main concern here is whether all the humor in this story is appropriate for a child audience. Sure, Coville breaks down the adult dialogue, but that's only part of it; some of the main characters in the story simply don't have very strong morals. King Oberon humiliates his wife, steals something from her, uses a form of mind control on her, manipulates the humans in the story like they're nothing, and never shows any regret or pause! In this version, he doesn't even express pity for Titania's condition like he did in the original tale; he just pulls her like a puppet until he gets what he wants, then grins and tells Puck to undo everything, which I found infuriating and unsatisfying. Is this really a good story for kids? They should know it's not nice to take advantage of people, play tricks on them, and all the other various things characters do to each other here with no consequences.

I'm not a hater of this tale in general. I love the Rupert Everet version of the film, particularly because Oberon and even Puck show a trace of conscience while still retaining their typical mischievousness and Titania's actually treated like a fleshed out character instead of a cut-out made for Oberon's humor. I just wish Coville had treated Oberon and Puck like more than a plague visited on those they inflicted their tricks on. It's not an awful tale by any means, but I suggest reading with your kids.

On to a positive note, though: the illustrations are absolutely lovely and perfectly faerie. In fact, this was the reason I got it. The fairies are gorgeous, the humans classical Roman beauties, and Puck an adorable child who bears a striking resemblance to Oberon. (This is a particularly interesting note, because Puck was actually acknowledged by one source of research as Oberon's son by a mortal woman. Apparently, Coville chose to acknowledge this.) As a lovely visual treat, this book is highly recommended!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2008 9:06:11 PM PST
Prince Asbel says:
This is a comedy, and asking practical questions like that is almost like asking practical questions in science fiction films. I wouldn't take it too much to heart. I know when I filmed multiple performances of this play at our college it didn't offend me too much, and I think that it's because it's a comedy.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2008 9:24:38 PM PST
JR Corry says:
Yes, but I don't think it's a comedy appropriate for small children.
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