‘Whilst it is often regarded as Shakespeare’s lightest romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is best understood as a dark exploration of the sinister and disturbing nature of love.’ To what extent do you agree?
Whilst A Midsummer Night’s Dream does provide much comedic entertainment for its audience, a darker exploration of love seems to sit under the guise of bawdy comedy. Shakespeare may have intended light comedy to cover the surface of the play, however as you delve deeper, explorations of the disturbing nature of sexual desires and the unhealthy and intoxicating powers of love become clear.
The intoxicating nature of love is explored in the play, with love causing the characters to act in ways they normally wouldn’t - “I had no judgement when to her I swore” here Lysander is referring to being in love with Hermia, despite the fact the “love” he had then was real. This is placed amongst the beginning of a very comic scene, (especially in production) with the misunderstandings of the lovers leading to chaos in the middle of the play. This scene follows this traditional arch of a comedy with a disruption-taking place in the middle of the comedy. Although directed to Helena, with his true love being Hermia, so the true meaning may be lost, the significance of the line cannot be lost amongst the comedy as it still has great relevance to the play. It was commonly believed in the sixteenth century that love had its own existence, captivating people in its power; Shakespeare seems to play on this idea in many ways. The “love-in-idleness” embodies this power as well as being intoxicating, the flower “will make a man or woman madly dote” on the next person they see – driving us to act in ways that aren’t normal. The choice of “madly” could be Shakespeare exploring the fact love is so intoxicating; it causes us to lose a sense of self- respect and behave ridiculously. This same intoxicating power is explored at the very beginning of the play when Egeus...
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