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A Midsummer Night's Dream was probably written in 1596, making it the last of Shakespeare's early comedies. Here he again explores the familiar themes art versus life, dreams versus reality within a stock comedy form of young couple(s) pitted against paternal authority. Shakespeare may have incorporated bits and pieces into A Midsummer Night's Dream that he had written years before but was unable to fit into his other early comedies. Nevertheless, most historians believe that the occasion for both the play's composition and of its dramatic complications is marriage. The general consensus is that A Midsummer Night's Dream was commissioned for a performance at an aristocratic marriage at Whitehall or another of Elizabethan England's great houses, as opposed to staging in a public theater. Although the play has its complications, it is, at bottom, a celebration of marriage and its poetics. Its text is permeated with references to moonlight, flowers, and birds, these image clusters creating an atmosphere conducive to nuptials. Unfortunately, we do not know the details of the particular wedding at which the play was probably first performed.
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