Being one of William Shakespeare’s masterpieces, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comical play which was written in 1593. The play tells a story of three different lovers and takes place in Athens. In the beginning, we are introduced to Duke Theseus of Athens, who is about to wed Queen Hippolyta of the distant land Amazon. The weeding is not let to go on without the story of Egeus, a father, who vows to kill his own daughter for refusing to marry the man he (Egeus) had chosen for her.
The daughter, Hermia, refuses to marry Demetrius because he is a cruel and inhumane man who does not care about humanity. Egeus is frustrated by the fact that his daughter is so much in love with Lysander, a man she purports to marry. There is also a stage-performing character called Nick Bottom, who shows up in nearly all episodes of the play, thus depicting his attitude of wanting to know more than what actually concerns him (Bartleby.com 3).
It is through the character of Nick Bottom that Shakespeare portrays almost all of the themes he purported to depict in this play. Bottom was aslo symbolically named by the author of the play to depict his desire to meddle in other people’s affairs. This phenomenon of the character was effectively used by Shakespeare to depict various episodes in the play with a great sense of humor.
As the play unfolds, an incident occurs whereby the King of the Fairies Oberon punishes his wife for not obeying his orders. He does so in a rather comical way, as he seeks the services of a comedian, Puck, to amuse his very own wife, Titania. The captivation she receives from Puck is meant to make her fall in love with any creature she will wake up to meet. The comically described creature is Nick Bottom who is perceived to possess a head of a donkey (Kennedy& Gioia 67).
Nick Bottom is supposedly bewitched by Robin Good to possess the head of the aforementioned donkey. To make Lysander and Hermia marry each other, Oberon uses extensive forms of magic, so that even Demetrius and Helena end up marrying each other through a marriage ceremony that was perfectly organized by Theseus. Until this point, it is worth noting that many of the plays written by Shakespeare were made into movies that were later shown all over the world. The paper will, therefore, attempt to examine the significance of the play as a form of literature.
William Shakespeare’s plays were written in a very comical way that made the audiences want for more. The use of comedy was very important to the modern world as it paved way for other comical plays and movies.
This explains the popularity which Shakespeare continues to enjoy till today. The significance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, just like most of Shakespeare’s plays, lies in its composition of comical episodes which are meant to captivate the minds of the audience while at the same time instilling moral lessons.
The comical episodes are presented in a rather jocular and sharp manner. In this particular play, William Shakespeare uses the unfortunate occurrences, which are meant to stop the marriages from taking place in a humorous way. The dilemmas in the play are meant to not only enlighten the audience about the various challenges members of the society face in their lives, but also to entertain them.
For instance, King of the Fairies, Oberon, is a man endowed with magic capabilities. When his wife refuses to hand over the pageboy to him, he gets angry and decides to put a spell on her. It is also humorous when Titania is attracted to a creature which has a donkey head.
The significance of the comedy is further underscored when Titania ends up sleeping with the low-life and rather funny Nick Bottom. She even orders her servants to serve him irrespective of the fact that even the audience can perceive that he has a donkey’s head. “When I did him at this advantage take, an ass's nole I fixed on his head” (III, 1, 17 & 18).
It is, therefore, fair to say that the most significant way William Shakespeare uses to convey the messages of love is through laughter. “Lord what fools these mortals be!” (Puck, Act 3, scene 2). Shakespeare uses laughter by mistakenly identifying characters. For instance, when Puck disguises himself he makes fun out of him. In yet another instance, magic is used to make characters fall in love with the wrong people or rather animals.
This is clearly depicted when King Oberon made her wife fall in love with Nick Bottom who had a head of donkey. In yet another methodology, William uses complex intertwining of plots so that the mechanicals, the mortals and the fairies are made to occur consecutively, thus bringing about the element of confusion. This in itself is positive as it eases the storyline of the play altogether. He uses the powers of magic to depict the various abnormalities that happen within the normal setting of the phenomenon. Magic is considered to be a real force which controls various occurrences in the “forest”. The fact that Shakespeare uses various abnormalities also creates a comical effect.
He portrays women as making sexual advancements, though opposite is true and normal. People are also portrayed as living in the forest rather than in houses. Uneducated men and women are perceived to play an important role in unfolding the play, yet they lack the relevant knowledge needed for performing plays.
The facet of marriage has also been used by the author to create a rather humorous setting so that events pertaining to these marriages arouse the aspect of celebration and entertainment among the audiences present. Lastly, the author uses language as a significant feature which creates a comical effect. He does this by misusing words or meanings, which is a smarter way of portraying insults. Shakespeare also uses sophisticated models of imagery and symbolism to achieve this effect.
The most intriguing feature which is associated with William Shakespeare is the use of his language. It is safe to say that William played a very significant role in the transformation of the English language as we perceive it today. Taking a closer look at the play, the aspect of language is perceived as having changed tremendously.
Various phrases are used in the play to depict various phenomenon which happen in the present life. It is claimed that if William Shakespeare could travel in time, he would be amazed by the positive advancements in the modern English language.
Various phrases are used in the play that can be matched to their present day analogs. For example, “For aught that I could ever read, could ever hear by tale or history, the course of true love never did run sooth” (Act 1 Scene 1). This phrase can be translated as “in history books they portray the fact that true love is not always enjoyed without obstacles”. Other significant phrases in the play include “How now, spirit? Whither wander you?”(Act2 Scene 1) and “I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell, to die upon the hand I love so well” (Helena, Act 2 Scene 1). The play is also significant in the sense that it portrays the difficulties faced by people when they decide to marry. The obstacles are ever present and appear in so many forms that it does not matter whether it is close relatives who are opposed to the marriage. For instance, when Hermia wanted to marry her long-time lover Lysander, her father turns fierce, and even vows to kill her, if she dares to marry him. In fact, her father had already decided on the person whom he wanted his daughter to marry. Demetrius, is depicted as a cruel ruler who does not care for the need of humanity at all.
The play is depicted as being rich in love, magic and hope. These three facets are considered to be the most popular features that impact the lives of various members of the society even in the present day world. Except an element of love which is exhibited by lovers within any given setting of the society, there is always an element of chaos and disorder, which is aimed at disrupting love from taking its full course (Tillman 29).
The play also uses a very simple setting to depict serious matters affecting the various members of the society. William Shakespeare is known to use very simple background to exemplify very serious issues affecting the society at large. For instance, in this particular play, Shakespeare uses a simple setting in which he expounds on the various challenges affecting people wishing to marry. He uses magicians to quickly transform grave issues to rather minor problems, thus making them visible and understandable by the audience at large.
Employing magic in the play is perceived as a significant factor, since human beings tend to believe in some form of supernatural phenomenon. Human beings expect supernatural creatures to intervene whenever matters turn out sour. Shakespeare must also have perceived this need, and it is for this reason that he uses fairies and other supernatural creatures for various interventions (Tillman 37).
Puck and Good Fellow are a clear imagery of the devil who is to deter people from undertaking tasks that may cause them to go astray and eventually die. Shakespeare uses fairies to stress the need for justice, as the mortals in the play are perceived to be taking sides in matters pertaining to politics, emotions and desires. They are further used to depict the aspect of good intentions in human beings. For instance, it is fascinating when Titania offers to care for the Indian boy without knowing the boy’s background. King Oberon is also perceived to order Puck to spray some magic potion on the eyelids of the Athenian man without expecting any reward whatsoever.
It is safe to say that Shakespeare made it possible for us to enjoy fairies in this modern-era. William Shakespeare’s fairies were never meant to harm human beings, but rather assist them in matters pertaining to entertainment and celebration (Tillman 26).
The fact that Shakespeare uses abnormal instances to depict possible change is also significant. Fro instance, it is a normal phenomenon that men are expected to take the initiative and make crucial decisions in any given society. However, Shakespeare utilizes abnormalities to depict the possibility of changes which may happen in any given society. For example, he uses women to make various choices in this play.
Helena, Hermia and Titania are depicted as clever women who make crucial decisions aimed at affecting the total population of any given society. It is a positive objection when Hermia refutes to succumb to orders postulated in the Athenian law. Titania, in her turn, refuses to obey King Oberon, thus refuting his ability to control the entire population. William Shakespeare employed metaphorical means to call into question unfair laws, whereby women were perceived to be men’s property and could not pursue any career of their choice.
It is, therefore, safe to say that William Shakespeare’s initial objective was to initiate changes in society by employing comedy and imagery