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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Essay by review  •  February 27, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,849 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,838 Views

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

Some optimists have compared love to a blissful dream, but Shakespeare's clever intrigue shows what a confusing nightmare love can be. As the audience ponders the revelry they have just seen as the play comes to an ending, Puck steps forth to conclude the confusion:

If we shadows have offended

Think but this, and all is mended

That you have but slumb'red here

While these visions did appear

And this weak and idle theme

No more yielding than a dream.

The audience is left in as much ambiguity as felt throughout the performance, appropriately ending the play in a puzzling state of confusion. The theme of night activities and sleep-runs are found throughout the play. The majority of the plot takes place at night, even the rehearsal for the farcical play. All the mishaps occur during the midnight hours and the confusion is not cleared up until the next morning when the four lovers are discovered.

This setting of night allows for the audience to drift into the idea that the entire show very well could have been a fantastical dream. Therefore, there is no other way for Shakespeare to end this crazy entanglement of lovers, mythological beings, fairies, and artisans but to explain it as a dream. Throughout the play, with the nighttime atmosphere and recurrence

of sleep, the dreamy state of the characters is passed on to the audience.

The play itself is left inconclusive when the characters depart, with questions remaining in the audience's mind, but Puck's closing monologue explains that puzzlement is the appropriate emotion to be feeling during the course of the play. He goes on to persuade the audience that the only logical explanation for the unusualness and ambiguity of the play is that, just as the characters themselves experienced, the audience has just awoke from a fantastical dream.

The novel of Shakespeare is presented to the audience as a love story, and what love does to people who are in love. Love is blind; it makes people do things that they would never think they would do. Therefore we as the audience ask ourselves, is love controlled by human beings who love one another or is love controlled by a higher power? There are many people who believe that a higher power has control over love. An example of a higher power would be a cupid, a flying angel-type creature who is supposed to shoot arrows at people to make them fall in love. There are other people who reject the idea that a higher power controls love and that the people who experience love can control it. In the play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", several examples of love's association with a higher power are presented. With the use of examples from the above novel, I will try to present the audience that love is associated with a higher power. Examples like: Thesius arranging a marriage between himself and Hippolyta, Egeus choosing who Hermia should marry and the fairies who have the ability to control love in the Enchanted Forest. This is where most of the action in the play takes place, in the forest which is controlled by the mystic creatures, fairies, which have the power to make humans fall in love with people that they don't really know or care about.

In the story, the supreme ruler of Athens, Thesius ends up marrying Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazon. However, during the whole story, Hippolyta never thoroughly

discusses her feelings and ideas about the marriage. She acts as if she has no choice but to marry Thesius. This can be proven by examining Hippolyta's position in the relationship between herself and Thesius. Hippolyta was captured by Thesius during battle and Thesius intimidates Hippolyta into marrying him since he is a supreme ruler and she was defeated by him. Thesius reveals that he capture Hippolyta in battle in the following quote, "I wood thee by my sword/ And won thy love doing thee injuries" (Act I, Pg 7). The above quote and the fact that Hippolyta never discusses her feelings about the wedding lead the reader to believe that she doesn't really love him. This leads the audience of the play to consider that Hippolyta does not really love Thesius, but maybe the fairies had to do something with her loving Thesius. Maybe the fairies had sprayed some love juice on her in order to make her fall in love with Thesius. Why would she marry a man that she was in war with, so clearly she does not love him, and the mystical creatures called fairies had something to do with this.

Another example of a higher power controlling one's love can be seen when the relationship between Egeus and his daughter Hermia, is observed. In Act 1, when Hermia confesses her love for Lysander to her father, Lysander, Helena, Demetrius and Thesius, her father Egeus is very upset. Egeus is upset because Hermia is defying his wishes for her to marry the man that he chose, Demetrius. When Hermia objects to her father's wishes, Egeus starts to threaten her life in an attempt to get her obedience, "As she is mine, I may dispose of her/ which shall be either to this gentleman/ or to her death, according to Athenian law/ Immediately provided in that case" (Act I, Pg 9). In this example, the higher power position is assumed by Egeus, Hermia's father who is frustrated because his daughter won't marry the man of his choice, but a man that she chose, Lysander. Her father's anger causes Lysander and Hermia to run away, and be followed by Helena and Demetrius. The couples then end up in the Enchanted Forest where a whole series of events that mix up the lovers occur.

The most interesting parts of the story take place in an environment known as: The Enchanted Forest. In the Enchanted Forest, numerous numbers of creatures exist with the addition of fairies. These fairies, for example Oberon, Titania and Puck, have the ability to use magic that can change the feelings of love in people. Since the couples wandered into the Enchanted Forest, they end up getting mixed up in a series of events where Puck changes the feelings of the couples by using a love potion on Lysander. After waking with the love potion in his eyes, Lysander ends up falling in love with Helena. On the other hand, Helena is still in love with Demetrius, who is in love with Hermia. Hermia is in love with Lysander. Basically, Puck changes the couples around because he applied the potion to Lysander instead

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