The mysterious comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is rightly considered as one of the most outstanding poetic achievements of Shakespeare’s genius. The present play written by Shakespeare is well-known among the worldwide readers as the marvelous romantic comedy.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedian play that drastically differs from other works of the poet’s talent. In this work, Shakespeare did not appeal to any other outside sources. The entire conception and composition of the play purely belongs to William Shakespeare himself. The comedy “A MidsummerNight’s Dream” is completely different comparatively to his previous earlier works. Shakespeare’s pathway from “Comedy of mistakes” to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” reflects a gradual shifting from prosaic and realistic events to further enforcement of the romantic moods. The poet successfully managed to create a totally different world which the readers have not used to see before. It is a mysterious and fantastic world that looks like a gorgeous spectacle.
The comedy contains two main story lines – realistic and fantastic. However, every story line has its own development and meaning. The expected wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta frames the entire play. The comedy begins from picturing Theseus’s yard and the readers come to know about the upcoming wedding of Athens’s Duke and Princess of the Amazons. The comedy ends up with celebrations on the wedding occasion. The present highlighted play line is not intriguing. It is, on the contrary, free of any dramatic motives and conflicts. Theseus is a wise, respectful, and an experienced duke, who loves his bride and is deeply loved by her. These characters are static and do not experience any changes and tortures within a play.
The second storyline is tightly connected with romantic adventures of the characters: Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena. The relationship between the mentioned heroes is complicated, dramatic, and full of conflicts and contradictions. It is penetrated with competitiveness, disobedience and resistance, but the reason of all these factors is love and sincere devotion. The poet tries to raise the subject of the generation gap, and appeals to the matter of children’s right to make one’s own choice. It is shown in the scene when Hermia’s father comes to Theseus complaining that his daughter Hermia refuses to honor his choice. He wants her to get married Demetrius, but Hermia prefers her own choice and that is Lysander. Theseus, being in charge of Athens, and a sovereign ruler protects Egeus’s parental will, and asks Hermia to follow the fatherly decision. Theseus stands on the side of legislation and traditions, without a hint of sympathy and compassion to Hermia. Theseus is ready to devoid Hermia of any pleasure in life, if she prefers her choice. He says “Either to die the death, or to abjure, For ever the society of men”(Shakespeare, I, Web.). Though, he could be more compassionate towards Hermia and Lysander, being in love with Hippolyta, and getting ready to a long-expected wedding. However, the youth refuses to be obedient, and silently accept somebody’s will that oppose the idea of happiness. Mutual love to each other is the most priority for the young people. It is the main moving force that leads their deeds and actions. Deep love and confidence in the rightness makes Hermia and Lysander more courageous and fearless. The lovebirds do not see any obstacles for being together, and they decide to run away from traditions and rules. After all, Hermia and Lysander occur in a forest. Another character, named Helena embodies desperate, but unanswered love which she feels to Demetrius. She is fully absorbed with love and is ready to be his puppy just for being with him. She ignores his cruel remarks, and indecent comments about her. Nevertheless, burning one-side love makes her close her eyes to Demetrius’s improper behavior. From one’s side, it proves that love is a great feeling, and it possesses an ability to forgive. From another side, in case of unshared love, this feeling can turn into a self-destroying curse.
After the young people find themselves in the mysterious wood, they become hostages of the mysterious and puzzling things that start happening with them there. The enigmatic wood has its own rules and rulers. It is a different world where the state’s laws are of no validity and force. There are morals and customs that vary from morality and customs of the society. It is a kingdom of nature and spirits, the place where the feelings are completely unchained. The world of nature is poetically spiritualized by Shakespeare. In the depths of the forest, among the trees and bushes, the readers can see light and airy fairies. The fairies embody the spirit and soul of the enigmatic forest. The poet makes the readers ask themselves what a human being’s soul is. Perhaps, it also resembles a fairy forest where it is easy to get lost among one’s own feelings. This idea can come to one’s mind while reading the scenes when the young people appear in the wizard forest. Life in the forest is run by the wood spirit named Oberon. He is a wood tsar, and he wants the fairies to be subject to him. More so, he expects full obedience from everybody including his wife. Though, Titania refuses to obey him completely, she behaves independently and bravely. Is not this scene similar to the one the readers observe at the beginning of the play? Certainly, there are certain similarities between them in this regard. It reminds the readers about overwhelming wish of the men to be superb.
The only distinguishing aspect is in which way Egeus and Oberon strive to approach the goal. Egeus appeals to power and fear, and Oberon, on the contrary, primarily practices fascinating tricks. Due to such tricks he manages to punish Titania, and rewards her with a strange love to Nick Bottom with a donkey head.
Egeus finds support in a house of Theseus. The Athens tsar Theseus strictly demands obedience and respect of the customs and laws, when the forest ruler Oberon behaves in a different way to achieve the same aim. For instance, he uses wizard’s charms to conquer Titania’s and Demetrius’s minds. The named characters could comprehend and appreciate what true love is after experiencing self-deceit and illusions. In this case, love is assumed as imaginary world itself that can make the ones deaf and blind.
If in the realistic world any avoidance of the accepted norms and traditions can cause serious consequences, whereas the same errors in the magic world of the forest spirits can be turned into a funny joke. It is aforementioned that the central and dramatic motive is generated form a conflict between Hermia and her father due to her disagreement to follow a fatherly decision. The conflict discovers contradiction between father’s will and daughter’s feelings. Hermia and her beloved Lysander decide to fight for mutual love and happiness, and as a result, their love prevails despite the trials and various obstacles. In regard of Demetrius and Helena, their complicated and ambiguous relations overcome the deadlock due to fantastic force of the forest spirits. Demetrius’s love to Hermia drives away and he falls in love with Helena with a similar passion as he loved Hermia. Such transformation happens due to sweet juice of the magic flower. Magic that is present in the forest helps people to acquire happiness. It assists to see each other from a side, to sort out one’s feelings, and destroy such meaning as unrequired love. Hermia and Helena, female characters of the play, fight for love till the last moment without any doubts, and ignoring offence and treachery from the beloved. Nevertheless, at the end of the play, Hermia is assured in a serious intention to get married to Lysander, and Helena conquers a desirable love of Demetrius.
The romantic adventures to the fantastic forest help the characters of the play to understand the real values and virtues. Despite the forest represents a fantastic and magic place with fairy inhabitants, the young people cannot acquire such comprehension and support in the realistic world. Exactly the residents of the allegoric world extend a helping hand to the young people and support the ones in the desire to gain mutual happiness, even with a help of magic. Probably here Shakespeare was eager to emphasize that the world of day-to-day realities is more indifferent, selfish and cruel. It prefers traditions than true feelings.
The end of the play is signified with triumph of love. Even Hermia’s father is forced to put up with the daughter’s choice and decision, despite a strong desire to be in charge of her destiny on his own. Theseus is also forced to honor a choice of the young couples and gives a blessing to all of them according to mutual hearty sympathies.
Therefore, nature proves its superiority. Shakespeare demonstrates that love is a constructive force that can break any obstacles and even traditions and habitual customs cannot stand on the way of Love. Shakespeare praises love as the most wonderful and poetical manifestations of a human nature. Though, pursuing this aim, the poet demonstrates a comedy of love in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shakespeare makes the accent that love can glorify, but, simultaneously, it can look ridiculous and self-diminishing. Love can make a person do strange and unusual deeds. It is brightly represented in the scenes of relations between Titania and Nick Bottom. The scenes of the comedy look funny and stupid when Titania, being bewitched by Oberon, falls into passionate love with Bottom with a donkey head. Though, the present exaggeration just reflects the capacity of love to make the ones blind, unreasonable and capricious keeping in view instability of people’s attractions and feelings. Besides, a human being in the realistic world is also capable to change one’s sympathy almost equally quickly and unexpectedly as it happens to Lysander, Demetrius and Titania in the mysterious forest. Shakespeare satirizes changeability of the human nature and its variable spirit. The readers can follow strange changes in behavior of the main characters, how easily they may be in love and then revenge.
While reading the comedy, the readers may notice that Shakespeare frequently appeals to contrast and comparison. We may observe not only comparison of two different places, but also timing of the events. Whatever happens in Athens, it happens within a daytime. Daytime means clarity and freshness, expectations of something new. Realistic world of Athens symbolizes a strict order, respect of Athens’s legislation and traditions. Here there is no place for confusion and reveries. The characters’ deeds are explainable, clear cut, and are subject to common sense. The events in the forest develop in the night time. Night is always a mystery, full of surprises and puzzles. There the men of the play experience personal change and attraction to earlier loved, or on the contrary, earlier neglected females due to the fairy bewitchery. In the forest we may see confused and lost heroes. Despite the characters find themselves in the fantastic forest, they live true and realistic life there. Hermia suffers from treachery and being abandoned by Lysander. Helena assumes herself as a mockery when Lysander states about his love. In its turn, Lysander feels pain from unanswered love to Helena. Unrealistic life brings real disappointments and sufferings to the characters. “This contradiction allows the reader consider the idea that “ the poet’s embodiment of imaginary things, has made the unreal real” (Boyce, Web.). The tsar of the mysterious forest gifts harmony to the characters of the play. Everybody receives what he or she feels deficit of. Though, it is difficult to take these feelings seriously considering the tricks of Oberon.
Taking into account how many scenes are dedicated to the fantastic world, we may assume that the author acknowledges and approves the values established there. He sings a song to true devoted love.
“Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a fairy tale where traditionally the Good wins the Evil. It is full of fascination beauty, and where all the complications and contradictions are easily overcome. It is a fairy tale about human happiness, young and fresh feelings, and beauty of the mysterious summer forest where unimaginable and wonderful events may happen.