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Forests in Shakespeare


In honor of Earth Week, we’re having a look at three forests in Shakespeare’s performs: the forest from A Midsummer Night time’s Dream, Birnam Wooden from Macbeth, and the Forest of Arden from As You Like It.

The Forest from A Midsummer Night time’s Dream

Although this forest has no title, it’s typically referred to as “the inexperienced world” as a result of it’s, fairly actually, a world unto itself. Within the forest, something can occur: love at first sight, errors by mischievous sprites, and even transformations of human heads into donkey heads. The forest acts as a spot of refuge from structured society. For higher or for worse (or perhaps for our leisure), chaos guidelines within the forest: a fairy queen falls for a donkey-headed Mechanical, and a servant holds a lot of the energy.

Birnam Wooden from Macbeth

All through Macbeth, nature holds some energy over the human world. Although Macbeth’s tyranny disrupts nature, nature disrupts his tyranny in return. After all, it’s truly Macduff’s and Malcolm’s military who lower down the bushes of Birnam Wooden and make it “transfer”. Thus, nature’s energy is proscribed: bushes can transfer, however solely with human support. On this planet of Macbeth, nature is part-human: “[s]tones have been identified to maneuver and bushes to talk.” (Macbeth, III.4.122) However is part-human in a menacing approach: nature wages warfare and causes destruction, even loss of life. Nevertheless, not like the human world, nature at all times is aware of proper from incorrect, and its violence serves the higher good. When “Birnam wooden [comes] to excessive Dunsinane hill” (Macbeth, IV.1.93) to kill Macbeth, the forest has restored pure order by leaving the throne open for a superb king. 

The Forest of Arden from As You Like It

Just like the inexperienced world, the Forest of Arden presents refuge from inflexible social hierarchies. Characters exiled or fleeing (Duke Senior, Rosalind, Celia, Orlando) in As You Like It all discover security within the forest as a result of the forest is ruled by the legal guidelines of nature, quite than the legal guidelines of man. The Forest of Arden is humanesque in a optimistic approach: “And this our life, exempt from public hang-out, / Finds tongues in bushes, books within the operating brooks, / Sermons in stones, and good in every part.” (As You Like It, II.1.15-17) The Forest of Arden is a joyous place, good for lovers and their weddings. Even being pressured to stay within the Forest of Arden is a pleasure: as Celia says, “I like this place, / And willingly might waste my time in it.” (As You Like It, II.4.69-70)

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