How does Shakespeare weave the theme of love in and out of the plot in A Midsummer Night's Dream?
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The theme of love is very central to A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, the only time when love is not a dominant part of the plot line is with respect to the mechanicals as they rehearse the play they wish to perform before Duke Theseus in honor of his wedding day. However, love even returns to that plot line when Titania falls in love with Bottom who has been transformed into a donkey. Therefore, the central theme of love weaves out of the plot line with respect to the mechanicals but then weaves back in when Titania falls in love with Bottom as a donkey.
While love is not a central theme with respect to the mechanicals, passion is a central theme, which is very similar to love. It is very evident that at least a couple of the mechanicals have a passion for the arts, especially writing and performing. We can see their passion for the arts in the very fact that they, a group of uneducated laborers, wish to perform a play. We especially see Quince's passion for the arts when he undertakes writing the prologues he thinks will be necessary for introducing the play and the actors' intentions. In addition, we especially Bottom's passion for the arts when he visualizes himself as a grand performer, capable of stirring an audience with his lead role, as we see in his lines, "If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms" (I.ii.21-22). While passion is similar to love, it is not exactly romantic love like we see in the rest of play; therefore, the mechanicals' production of the play is one instance in which the theme of love weaves out of the plot line.
However, the theme of romantic love returns when Oberon and Puck trick Titania into falling in love with Bottom as a donkey. Oberon decides to trick his wife with a love potion because he is jealous of her love for the beautiful Indian changeling boy, which he sees as erotic love for the boy. We know Titania's affection for the boy is erotic because, as Puck describes, she "[c]rowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy," which happens to be the exact same way she treats Bottom when she falls in love with him (II.i.27). Since her love for the boy is erotic, Oberon decides to enchant her into falling in love with the first foul creature she lays eyes on in order to distract her from the boy. Once he has distracted her from the boy, Oberon can then release the spell, making her fall in love with himself once again. Therefore, since Bottom from the mechanicals is used to ultimately patch Oberon and Titania's marriage, we see that the theme of love weaves back into the plot with respect to the mechanicals.
There are many examples of love in a Midsummer Night's Dream. Firstly there is the true love between Lysander and Hermia. Their love for each other was so strong that they would die for the other. Also we see another example of true love in the play of Pyramus and Thisbe where they kill themselves for love. We see a conditional love between Oberon and Titania. A fatherly love between Hermia and Egeus. A magical love between Lysander and Helena. Finally we see a love were Theseus won Hippolyta over by winning a battle against her.
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