Mandy Conway Mrs. Guynes English 12 16 March 2000 A Critical Analysis of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" William Shakespeare, born in 1594, is one of the greatest writers in literature. He dies in 1616 after completing many sonnets and plays. One of which is "A Midsummer Night's Dream." They say that this play is the most purely romantic of Shakespeare's comedies. The themes of the play are dreams and reality, love and magic. This extraordinary play is a play-with-in-a-play, which master writers only write successfully. Shakespeare proves here to be a master writer. Critics find it a task to explain the intricateness of the play, audiences find it very pleasing to read and watch. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a comedy combining elements of love, fairies, magic, and dreams. This play is a comedy about five couples who suffer through love's strange games and the evil behind the devious tricks. This play begins as Theseus, the Duke, is preparing to marry Hippolyta. He woos her with his sword. Hermia is in love with Lysander. Egeus, Hermia's father, forbids the relationship with Lysander and orders her to marry Demetrius. Demetrius loves Hermia, but she does not love him. On the other hand, Helena is in love with Demetrius. To settle the confusion, Theseus decides that Hermia must marry Demetrius or become a nun. In retaliation to her father's command, Hermia and Lysander run away together. Amidst all the problems in the human world, Titania and Oberon, the fairy queen and king, continually argue about their various relationships that they have taken part in. (Scott 336) Titania leaves Oberon as a result of the arguments. Oberon is hurt and wants revenge on Titania. So he tells Puck, Oberon's servant, to put a magic flower juice on her eyelids while she is sleeping. This potion causes the victim to desperately in love with the first creature that they see. Oberon's plan is carried out, but the potion is also placed on Lysander's eyes. Lysander awakes to see Helena, who is aimlessly walking through the woods, and instantly falls in love with her. She thinks that he is making fun of her being in love with Demetrius, so she leaves and Lysander follows. This leaves Hermia to wake up alone. Puck now has journeyed to the area where several actors are rehearsing. He uses his magic to turn one of them into a donkey, in hopes that Titania will awake to see it. Just as planned, she awakes and falls in love with the donkey. Oberon and Puck overhear Demetrius and Hermia arguing about their relationships and realize that they had made a mistake. In hopes of solving the problem, Puck places magic juice on Demetrius while he is sleeping. He awakes to Helena, who now has two men in love with her. Hermia is devastated because Lysander does not love her anymore. Helena and Hermia argue because Helena thinks that Hermia is in on the men's "joke." All four argue and leave. Puck persuades them to sleep all together and more of the antidote is placed on the eyes of Lysander. Titania also receives another dose of the potion, and awakes to her husband Oberon. A triple wedding is planned and everyone is happy. (thinkquest.com 1-3) Throughout the play there are many references to the gender and sex roles of the characters. As described in the critical essay by Shirley Nelson Garner, the dominating male power and strange sex roles of the characters is fluent throughout the play. The ordering of the fairy, human, and natural worlds is a movement toward satisfying men's psychological needs; but it also disrupts women's bonds with each other. The argument between Titania and Oberon arises from Titania's focus of attention toward a stolen Indian boy. Oberon uses his authority to force Titania to give up the boy, and he is shocked when she disobeys him and leaves. Her attachment to the boy is erotic, because she treats him similar to Bottom after she falls in love with him by a spell. The underlying reason for Oberon's...
Bibliography: Works Cited Draper, James P. "Critical Essays on Major Shakespeare Plays." World Literature Criticism. 1992. Dutton, Richard. A Midsummer Night 's Dream. New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1996. Garber, Marjorie B. Dream in Shakespeare: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis. London: Yale University Press, 1974. Kenneth, Muir. Shakespeare the Comedies: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965. Magill, Frank N. "A Midsummer Night 's Dream." Masters of World Literature. 1989. McIntosh, Heather S. "Critical Essays on Shakespeare Plays: A Midsummer Night 's Dream." www.calpoly.edu/libraryservices.com, 1999. Scott, Mark W. and Joseph C. Tardiff. Shakespeare for Students. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992. "A Midsummer Night 's Dream." www.thinkquest.com, 2000.
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