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Context----A Midsummer Nights Dream----William Shakespeare The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was

born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glo e-maker in Stratford-upon-! on, England" Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further" #n 15$% he married an older woman, !nne &athawa', and had three children with her" !round 15() he left his famil' behind and tra eled to *ondon to work as an actor and pla'wright" +ublic and critical success ,uickl' followed, and Shakespeare e entuall' became the most popular pla'wright in England and part-owner of the -lobe Theater" &is career bridged the reigns of Eli.abeth # /ruled 155$016)12 and 3ames # /ruled 16)10 16%52, and he was a fa orite of both monarchs" #ndeed, 3ames granted Shakespeare4s compan' the greatest possible compliment b' bestowing upon its members the title of 5ing4s 6en" Wealth' and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fift'-two" !t the time of Shakespeare4s death, literar' luminaries such as 7en 3onson hailed his works as timeless" Shakespeare4s works were collected and printed in arious editions in the centur' following his death, and b' the earl' eighteenth centur' his reputation as the greatest poet e er to write in English was well established" The unprecedented admiration garnered b' his works led to a fierce curiosit' about Shakespeare4s life, but the dearth of biographical information has left man' details of Shakespeare4s personal histor' shrouded in m'ster'" Some people ha e concluded from this fact that Shakespeare4s pla's were reall' written b' someone else89rancis 7acon and the Earl of :;ford are the two most popular candidates8but the support for this claim is o erwhelmingl' circumstantial, and the theor' is not taken seriousl' b' man' scholars" #n the absence of credible e idence to the contrar', Shakespeare must be iewed as the author of the thirt'-se en pla's and 154 sonnets that bear his name" The legac' of this bod' of work is immense" ! number of Shakespeare4s pla's seem to ha e transcended e en the categor' of brilliance, becoming so influential as to profoundl' affect the course of Western literature and culture e er after" Written in the mid-15()s, probabl' shortl' before Shakespeare turned to Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream is one of his strangest and most delightful creations, and it marks a departure from his earlier works and from others of the English <enaissance" The pla' demonstrates both the e;tent of Shakespeare4s learning and the e;pansi eness of his imagination" The range of references in the pla' is among its most e;traordinar' attributes= Shakespeare draws on sources as arious as -reek m'tholog' /Theseus, for instance, is loosel' based on the -reek hero of the same name, and the pla' is peppered with references to -reek gods and goddesses2> English countr' fair' lore /the character of +uck, or <obin -oodfellow, was a popular figure in si;teenth-centur' stories2> and the theatrical practices of Shakespeare4s *ondon /the craftsmen4s pla' refers to and parodies man' con entions of English <enaissance theater, such as men pla'ing the roles of women2" 9urther, man' of the characters are drawn from di erse te;ts= Titania comes from : id4s Metamorphoses, and :beron ma' ha e been taken from the medie al romance Huan of Bordeaux, translated b' *ord 7erners in the mid-151)s" ?nlike the plots of man' of Shakespeare4s pla's, howe er, the stor' in A Midsummer Nights Dream seems not to ha e been drawn from an' particular source but rather to be the original product of the pla'wright4s imagination"