‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ features many aspects of love which connects the three worlds presented in the play; court, workers and fairies.
This causes love to be an important theme in the play and it involves several of the characters. Shakespeare orchestrates a situation where love is complicated and this means that the lovers have to face many obstacles in the course of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.The main obstacles which they face are the conventions of marriage which are set out in the play, that the characters follow their heats and not their heads which leads to confusion and causes complications and the other main obstacle is the external magical forces which interfere with the lovers. The three worlds which Shakespeare presents us with is an important dramatic technique as it intertwines all of the characters’ lives.
Egeus is what was seen as a good father of the time in which it was written and the arranged betrothal seen in the play was not all that strange when put in comparison with other marriages in Elizabethan England.Egeus is controlling, forceful and dominant. An example of this is shown by his continuous use of possessive words such as ‘my’ and ‘mine’. At this time it was the norm for suitors to first ask the fathers permission before securing the daughters hand in marriage. As Demetrius first got Egeus’ favour, ‘This man hath my consent to marry her. ’, he was the one whom Egeus wanted Hermia to marry, despite her being in love with Lysander. At the beginning of the play Egeus accused Lysander of turning Hermia’s obedience ‘which is due to me to stubborn harshness’, he also accuses Lysander of ‘bewitching’ Hermia.Another rule of marriage which Egeus tries to enforce is that Hermia should marry whomever he chooses for her.
Throughout Egeus’ speech he doesn’t talk to Hermia directly, instead he pleads his case to Theseus. A part of his speech where he applies his pleas to Theseus is when he says, more than once, ‘my gracious Duke’. The language used by Egeus during his speeches is very formal as he is talking to an important official. It is also very powerful which is illustrated by the lines ‘full of vexation come I’ and ‘I may dispose of her’.
The word vexation has connotations of displeasure, grief, irritation and torment. When he is pleading his case with the duke he is very accusing towards Lysander, this is presented to the reader through him saying things such as ‘with cunning hast thou filched’, ‘stolen the impression’ and ‘turned her obedience’. With love being an important theme in the play there is both mutual and unrequited love. Shakespeare shows the pain of unrequited love more than once in the course of the play, the first being when Helena talks with Lysander and Hermia of their plans to flee Athens.
One example of this is where Helena says to Hermia ‘The more I love, the more he hateth me’ and another is where Helena says ‘O that my prayers could such affection move! ’. The second time where Helena’s unrequited love for Demetrius is clearly shown is where she is talking of Helena’s plans to Demetrius and she says ‘You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant’ and also when she says ‘The more you beat me I will fawn on you’. When Helena describes her love for Demetrius is very powerful and dramatic. An example of this is ‘to die upon the hand I love so well’.This shows the audience that Helena is willing to have Demetrius kill her. Other examples of this is where she says that ‘I am sick when I look not on you’ and ‘For you, in my respect, are all the world’. This last example shows to the audience that Demetrius is all that fills Helena’s mind and he is her everything. One love scene between Hermia and Lysander is where they plan to run away with each other and wed away from the perils of the Athenian law.
Hermia uses language which shows the true extent of her love for Lysander.She says to Lysander, after he proposes the plan to her, ‘I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow’ which show that she is relying solely on her love for Lysander. In the same speech she also says ‘By that which knitteth souls and prospers love’ which tell the audience that hers and Lysander’s souls are bound and she truly loves him.
Lysander, in this same love scene, instead of using long phrases to express his love for Hermia, calls her things such as ‘gentle’ and ‘love’ which shows that Lysander thinks fondly of Hermia and does consider her to be his love.In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Oberon is the king of the fairies who is in love with Titania. He orders puck to travel and ‘fetch me that flower, the herb I showed thee once’. Later in the play Oberon uses said flower to make Titania fall in love with Bottom and Lysander and Demetrius to fall in love with Helena. Oberon uses this flower to make Titania fall in love with Bottom. As he is doing this he says ‘Wake when some vile thing is near! ’ which gives the audience the impression that Oberon wishes her to fall in love with something ugly; a love which he will then break with the cure to the herb.
As Titania wakes and hears Bottom singing, she says ‘What angel wakes me from my flowery bed? ’ which tells the audience that Titania has fallen in love with Bottom and that she is his entirely. This is later confirmed as she tells Bottom ‘On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee’. Bottom is engulfed entirely into the world of the fairies and is accepted almost as one of their own, however, when Oberon uses the cure to snap Titania out of her trance and after this she says to Oberon ‘O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now! This tells the audience that she is truly no longer in love with Bottom. Puck is the fairy to enchant Lysander with the flower’s juice and as Lysander wakes and sees Helena he falls madly in love with her. His words upon waking were ‘And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake! ’ which tells the audience that his love for Hermia has gone and for the moment due to the potion his love is solely for Helena, another thing which tells the audience that he no longer loves Hermia is when he says that it is ‘Not Hermia, but Helena I love’.
He also says ‘Who will not change a raven for a dove’ which gives the audience the impression that in his intoxicated state he finds Helena far more beautiful than his previous love Hermia. Puck plays a large part in confusing the lovers by making mistakes with whose eyes he should or should not put the love juice into. Oberon first orders him to put the love juice into Demetrius’ eyes saying ‘Thou shalt know the man by the Athenian garments he hath on. ’ but Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and therefore this confuses the lovers.Puck then puts love juice into Demetrius’ eyes and he then falls in love with Helena also which causes even more problems between all of the lovers. In Act Three we see an example of Shakespearian comedy. A Shakespearian comedy would consist of everything we see in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; conflict and resolution, confusion which in turn creates humour, misunderstandings, chaos, and farcical moments. The confusion, misunderstandings and chaos are main components in this comedy as they bring out the humorous qualities of the characters even if they are not apparently a character of humour.
Farcical moments are also a large component of this Shakespearian comedy with Act Three as a pivotal point with the lovers’ quarrel. A Shakespearian comedy was not necessarily all humour but did have some serious themes and a happy resolution at the end of the play was expected. The comedic aspect of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is greatly contributed to in the production I saw by the lovers’ quarrel in Act Three Scene Two, this production made use of a large mud pool central to the argument. This adds to the comedy of ‘A Midsummer Night’sDream’ by altering the appearance of the lovers and also by slightly changing the way the characters act. In their argument, Helena attempts to escape from Hermia and the two men, by using the bike saying ‘Which death or absence soon shall remedy’, however, Lysander and Demetrius lift the bike off the ground to prevent her from escaping them. This adds more comedy to the play and also to their quarrel.
Yet another way which the lovers’ quarrel adds comedy to ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is by the insults the two women throw at one another such as ‘Puppet’, ‘Juggler’, ‘Canker-blossom’, ‘Counterfeit’, etc.The word counterfeit has connotations of ‘cheat’ and ‘fake’ which shows the contempt the women have for each other. In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Puck is the fairy to make the mistake of putting the love juice into the wrong Athenian’s eyes. Puck resolved this by later putting the cure to the love juice into Lysander’s eyes which causes his love for Hermia to return to him.
However, he leaves the juice in Demetrius’ eyes which leaves him in love with Helena which makes both sets of lovers happy.In Act five there are four main happy endings as well as a happy ending in Act four. Those in Act five are the happy ending for Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, Hippolyta and Theseus, and the workers. The happy endings for Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius is their marriage which was held alongside the wedding of Hippolyta and Theseus. Theseus and his hunting party come across the lovers at the edge of the woods. Theseus declares that ‘These couples shall eternally be knit’ alongside Hippolyta and himself in the temple later that day.The happy ending for Hippolyta and Theseus is their marriage and the happy ending for the workers is their play being chosen to be performed just after these weddings.
The happy ending in Act four is the one of Titania and Oberon as Titania’s trance was broken and she and Oberon ended up coming together again. Their happiness with each other was shown where Oberon, before Titania wakes, says ‘my sweet Queen’ and later in his speech where he says again ‘my Queen’. Titania shows she is content with Oberon as she in her speech says ‘my lord’. In conclusion, there are the three worlds of fairies, court and the workers.These act as an important dramatic technique which combines each of the characters in ways which the audience does not see at first. The collision of the worlds in the play however also creates confusion which is brought at the characters mainly by the fairies, which in turn creates chaos.
The features of the Shakespearian comedies were that they were both entertaining and saddening for the audience at the same time. Shakespearian comedy also featured in large marriages, which was usually the happy resolution which is seen in Act five, whereas with Shakespearian tragedies the resolution was usually death.