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Geographies of Embodiment in Early Modern England$
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Mary Floyd-Wilson and Garrett A. Sullivan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198852742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198852742.001.0001

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Meteorology, Embodiment, and Environment in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Meteorology, Embodiment, and Environment in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Chapter:
(p.134) 6 Meteorology, Embodiment, and Environment in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Source:
Geographies of Embodiment in Early Modern England
Author(s):

Mary Thomas Crane

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198852742.003.0006

The fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream represent agents of meteorology, the branch of natural philosophy that explained the unruly and impermanent world of elements that existed below the sphere of the moon. Although the conclusion of the play stages a resecuring of social and institutional control over unruly natural forces, it leaves questions about how permanent that control can be. As anthropomorphized forces of nature, the fairies reveal the limits of human ability to control the natural world, highlighting the power of what Jane Bennett has called ‘vital materialism’.

Keywords:   meteorology, nature, vital materialism, anthropocentrism, elements, humours

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