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A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contrast in Human Mentality

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A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contrast In Human Mentality

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contrast In Human Mentality

The Play: "A Midsummer Night's Dream", by William Shakespeare offers a

wonderful contrast in human mentality. Shakespeare provides insight into man's

conflict with the rational versus the emotional characteristics of our behavior

through his settings. The rational, logical side is represented by Athens, with

its flourishing government and society. The wilder emotional side is

represented by the fairy woods. Here things do not make sense, and mystical

magic takes the place of human logic. Every impulse may be acted upon without

and forethought to there outcome.

The city of Athens represents the epitome of civilized man. Ruled by

the laws of man and kept in check by society's own norms. The human struggle to

suppress its unrestrained and irrational tendencies, still being undertaken

today, discourages the 'civilized' man from making rash and foolish actions.

Thus every action should have a sound and logical purpose, based on the social

norms.

In the play, Egeus, the father of Hermia, has thoughtfully chosen what

he considers an acceptable mate to wed his daughter. Egeus most likely based

his decision on economic, political, and social factors in his choosing of

Demetrius. He is making a reasonable decision based on Hermia's future in their

society. Unfortunately Hermia is smitten by Lysander and vice versa. Although

her father may have made his decision with every good intension, keeping with

the traditional customs of his day, and even perhaps taking into consideration

such things as attractiveness, he failed to foresee the desires of his daughter.

The young Lysander, who like most young men, cares little for the rules of

society, is willing to break tradition and flee Athens to obtain Hermia.

Therefore they must leave the rational Athens to enjoy their irrational love.

Theseus, the king of Athens, is the highest symbol of law and order in

his kingdom. After winning a war with another kingdom, he chooses to marry

their queen, Hippolyta. His decision may very well have been inspired by love,

but the political ramifications of their marriage is a more plausible rationale.

In fact Theseus' apparent love for Hippolyta seems almost as an added reward to

an already beneficial partnership. Whether any attraction was there or not

probably would not have made a difference. As king, Theseus must place the

kingdom before his own feelings. It simply comes with the position.

In short Athens represents the desire to suppress feelings and impulses

and to make decisions based on logic. Thus it does not give the power of raw

emotion the true respect it requires, for man is both emotional and rational.

Love never has, and never will, be predictable.

The fairy world represents man's undisciplined emotional quality. Here

the laws of man do not apply and things simply need not make sense. Attributes

like adventure, romance, fear, foolishness, and mockery are all things

suppressed by Athens and welcomed by the fairy woods. The fairies respect

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