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Digesting Shakespeare - Two Centuries of Adapting A Midsummer Night's Dream for Children

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posted on 2021-11-13, 21:38 authored by Vermeulen, Elriza Chimeni

The purpose of my thesis has been to establish the reasons for adapting Shakespeare for children in the modern age and to see if adaptations are influenced by the time they are written. From my analysis of forty- two adaptations for children of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, covering a period of almost two hundred years, three distinct trends have emerged. The first is the evolution of Shakespeare, in terms of his reputation and literary prestige. The second is the growth in the variety of adaptations of Shakespeare for children. The third is the tendency of treatments to reflect the eras in which they were produced.  This project represents an under-discussed field of Shakespeare studies. Comparing a wide variety of texts in the context of the time they were written has been neglected, as has the comparison of texts in different eras. This project covers seven time periods (with a chapter devoted to each): 1800 to 1840 (The Beginning); 1850 to 1910 (The Golden Age), 1919 to 1939 (Between the Wars); 1940 to 1959 (Post War Recovery); 1960 to 1979 (Performance Adaptations); 1980 to 1989 (Shakespeare in Schools) and 1990 to 1999 (End of a Millennium).  I argue three points: The first is that the prestige of Shakespeare has been systematically and consistently reinforced in each generation echoing his development from England’s greatest writer to an international icon. The second is that adaptations of MND have been influenced for the past 200 years by education in one way or another, either for pedagogic use or as metatheatrical device, ensuring an increasing variety of adaptations. The third is that MND has been rewritten to suit a specific era and audience.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Miles, Geoff; Walls, Kathryn