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The Major Comedic Elements of a Midsummer Night's Dream

Essay by review  •  March 25, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,009 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,759 Views

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The Major Comedic Elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Like most comedies, Shakespeare’s comedies also aimed to entertain the audience

and to conclude with a somewhat happy ending. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is no

exception to that rule. Also like most of his comedies, the main theme of this play is

marriage or the celebration of a marriage. Although marriage is the main theme of this

play, Shakespeare conveys many other themes though the lyrical expressions of the

work. These themes and many more will be explored throughout this paper in an attempt

to prove that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy.

Like most comedies of this time period, this play opens with the discussion of marriage. Hermia refuses to marry Demetrius, the man that her father (Egeus) has chosen for her to marry. He then quotes an ancient Athenian law, which states that the daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father or die. Her only other option is lifelong chastity in return for worshipping Diana. It seems that Hermia disagrees with both options, so she runs away with Lysander, her fiancÐ"©e, to elope. This is very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, excluding the fact that it was a tragedy. These issues make this play a comedy because of the struggle between the two lovers and the elders.

Another common factor in the genre of comedy is some sort of disruption in the natural order of things. These disruptions usually involve the way men and women relate, sort of like a battle of the sexes. Before Hermia and Lysander run away to elope, Hermia tells her friend Helena of their plans. However, Helena had been recently rejected by Demetrius and she uses this information to try to gain favor with him. Naturally, Demetrius and Helena attempt to find them so that they can stop this. This is significant because it shows a partial alliance between Helena and Demetrius, who were probably not on good terms before this turn of events. In this section, we also see issues of separation and unification. Hermia is running away with another man while Helena and Demetrius have now joined forces to stop this from happening.

One of the most noticeable factors of comedy is the role of the vice. Where would a good comedy be without a prankster of some sort? Puck fulfills the role of the vice wonderfully whether it was intentional or not. Oberon, king of the fairies, and his wife Titania are in disagreement over a Indian changeling that he wishes to use as a henchman. In an attempt to punish Titania for her disobedience, he hires Puck to help him. Puck’s job is to attain a magical juice, which makes the victims fall in love with the first person or creature in sight. Oberon applies the juice in an attempt to distract his wife, so that she will give up the changeling and he can use him as a servant. This could also be looked at as another example of men versus women in the play.

The rise of tension between characters is another characteristic of comedic plays. After Oberon sees the way that Helena has been treated by Demetrius, he orders Puck to apply the juice to the eyes of Demetrius. Puck accidentally applies the juice to Lysander’s eye, which causes him to fall in love with Helena. After the mistake had been caught, Oberon sends Puck to watch Helena and Oberon applies the juice to Demetrius’ eyes. This causes both men to fall for Helena and now

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