A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Genre: Comedy Play, Classic Drama
Shakespeare’s intertwined love polygons begin to get complicated from the start–Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia’s father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon’s head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke’s wedding (one of whom is given a donkey’s head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny.
“Ah me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:
But either it was different in blood,—”
This review will work more as an analysis. First I must state that this truly was a comedy. I laughed so many times because these characters do and say some hilarious stuff. I love that Shakespeare drew on Greek mythology for this play because that is a topic I love. The tone of the story matches what is going on. It’s lighthearted, satirical, and dreamlike.
“and I am such a tender
ass, if my hair do but tickle me I must scratch.”
The play has three main themes: the difficulty of love, magic, and dreams. The theme of love’s difficulty is a bit funny because this is not a love story. He distances the characters emotions from us so as to poke fun at the torment & afflictions that those in love suffer. We see the characters do some preposterous stuff and it’s just so true because I feel like when you’re in love you do things that you might not typically do.
“Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe;
When thou wak’st let love forbid
Sleep his seat on thy eyelid:
“So awake when I am gone;
For I must now to Oberon.”
Magic embodies the supernatural power of love through the potion used throughout the play. It also was used to create a surreal world for the audience/readers through the dreamlike woods and fairies. The theme of dreams is linked to the bizarre magical mishaps in the forest.
“Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time; “
Something that I found really interesting was the contrasts within the play. The cast is full of opposites and doubles i.e. Helena is tall and Hermia is short, Puck pulls pranks & Bottom is the victim of pranks. The symbolism of Theseus & Hippolyta was that they symbolized order & stability. The dream realm showed that people weren’t in control of their environment but Theseus & Hyppolyta always were. Also, the potion symbolized the unreasoning, fickle, erratic, & powerful nature of love that leads to bizarre behavior.
The play was very good and I enjoy his comedies a whole lot more than the dramas although I loved Hamlet & Macbeth. I think anyone who loves Shakespeare should have this in their collection. It was a fantastic play and I would love to see it acted out.