Retelling Shakespeare

October 4, 2016

So my latest book I'm trying something new. I'm retelling Midsummer Night's Dream. I always thought the way that Helena chased after Demetrius was kind of sad and I wanted to give her more of back bone. You see Helena is the poor friend to the rich Hermia. Hermia is pretty much a spoilt brat in the play and throws a tantrum and runs off with a guy that is probably just after her money. Actually I reckon both of the boys are after her money and just put up with her antics. I really hate the way Shakespeare represents women. it isn't his fault. He lived in an age where leaving your wife and kids in the country was quiet acceptable and no one blinked an eyelash at the love poems you wrote about every Tom Dick and Harry except your wife. But it does mean he doesn't have a high opinion of women.

 

Hermia: Well, in my retelling I still made Hermia a bit  of a spoilt brat until you find out more about here. She is struggling to find herself because her whole life she has been neglected and pushed into a role that doesn't suit her. I didn't want the ditzy stereotype that can happen with these kind of princess kind of characters so I made her smart. I was thinking of the Five Hundred kingdom series by Mercedes Lackey. That series deals with expectations and stereotypes and how we should all fight against it. I don't think I went into really dealing with this issue but I did want to throw the usual assumptions out of the window. I think that is why I made Lysander the bad guy.

 

Lysander: In the play he runs off with the girl who is engaged to someone else. I always think this was hinky. If the relationship was good for everyone then surely you can be open about it. So Lysander in this story is all about himself. He is a bastard son and is trying to get revenge on a father who never accepted him. He is manipulative and he thinks he is smarter than everyone around him but not even close. I like this idea of a bad guy who thinks he is smart but isn't. This reminds me of bullies at school who think they are all that when they are generally dumb jocks. So Lysander is a school bully on steroids.

 

Demetrius: He is the puppy. I didn't like his character in the play. Too sure of himself and a bit cocky like he knows everything. I have a bit of that but I added a good dose of puppy to the mix. For the one that gets the girl in the end I wanted to make a guy who was the nice guy. There are too many alpha males and dominants in literature, to the point that people reckon that feminism has killed the nice guy. But that isn't true. Demetrius is a nice guy and he certainly doesn't finish last.

 

Helena: So I said I wanted to make something of her so I made her into a Rosh spy. Yes she is still the poor girl and she is certainly the victim in all of this but she recognises an opportunity and goes for it. I like that she is very worldly and how she contrasts against Demetrius who is really just a country boy. Helena is the catalyst in the whole book. Because of her everything comes out on top instead of Lysander winning the day.

 

I enjoyed my own take of a true classic and it really held up well. I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did.

 

 

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