Saturday, August 8, 2009

Shakespeare's Fairies

I'm working on a Shakespeare unit for the Little Ladies. Of course, being fairy lovers, A Midsummer Night's Dream is the perfect place to start!

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire!
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
-William Shakespeare

I read a wonderful article about Shakespeare and the fairies, The Fairy Mythology of Shakespeare by Alfred Nutt. The article includes a list of characteristics of Shakespeare's fairies and elves, which Shakespeare considered one and the same. I found this list very entertaining and have a lot of the same views of the fairy folk. I find it so curious that a writer of the late 1500's still influences our view of fairies today.

a. They form a community under a king and queen.
b. They are exceedingly small.
c. They move with extreme swiftness.
d. They are elemental airy spirits; their brawls incense the wind and moon, and cause tempests; they take a share in the life of nature; live on fruit; deck the cowslips with dewdrops; war with noxious insects and reptiles; overcast the sky with fog.
e. They dance upon the green.
f. They sing hymns and carols to the moon.
g. They are invisible and apparently immortal.
h. They come forth mainly at night.
i. They fall in love with mortals.
j. They steal babies and leave changelings.
k. They come to bless the best bride-bed and make the increase therefore fortunate.

You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.
-William Shakespeare


Stephanie said...

We love A Midsummer Night's Dream!
It's just so hilarious!!

The fairy is darling.

Sherry Gann said...

fun! can't wait to hear more about this unit. :)

Shady Lady said...

Ooh, Shakespeare! I can't wait to see how this unit goes. =)

Joy said...

Thanks for sharing! Your little elf is so adorable. :) I can't wait to hear more about your Shakespeare unit.

Marina said...

That elf is absolutely adorable! I'm interested to see what you do with your Shakespeare unti...I feel like I learn something new every time I read your blog :)

Anonymous said...

I love Shakespeare...AMND is one of my favorites!

Ticia said...

I love Midsummer Night's Dream. Make sure to watch the movie version with Michelle Pfeiffer and a whole slew of other great actors.
If you think about it the only other well known fairies are Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, so it makes sense that he's influenced our view on fairies that much.

likeschocolate said...

Thank you for sharing that was so sweet.

Anonymous said...

So glad I have found your have so many fun projects and ideas. Thanks for the inspiration. xx

nettlejuice said...

Pray tell, what Shakespeare unit is that? I'd love to hear more about what materials you use with your girls. I feel like I'm kind of groping for direction right now.

gardenmama said...

Shakespeare is fabulous!
I enjoyed reading the characteristics of fairies! : )

Ute said...

My daughter is going to take a Language Arts class, called Young Shakespeareans. They will perform a small play at the end of the term. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

As always, I want to come to your school!! :-) Thanks for the fun Shakespeare lesson!

Amanda said...

Hi Lisa! Thank you for your kind words on my blog. Your blog is wonderful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing ;)


Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog and it is great. I have become a follower.


Mandy said...

i was just thinking the other day that i can't wait to tackle shakespeare!

Toni said...

love Midsummers NIght Dream and it is a great place for kids to start with Shakespeare.

Sherry Gann said...

Somehow we ended up in A Midsummer Night's Dream today. It was unintentional, but there was no turning back. ;) The little imp is prancing around like Cobweb now.

Not many people I know can understand how a 5yo could stumble into Shakespeare--but I'm sure it doesn't surprise you a bit. :D