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What is Comedic and what is comic about A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare? 

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ihemmati | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 4, 2010 at 10:13 PM via web

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What is Comedic and what is comic about A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare?

 

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 5, 2010 at 9:25 PM (Answer #1)

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The Comedic of A Midsummer Night's Dream would refer to the elements of the play fit the structure of a classic Comedy.  These criteria were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans and adapted a bit by Shakespeare, but were definitely considered "rules" to follow in writing a play called a Comedy.  The structure of a Comedy in the classical sense doesn't have that much to do with whether the play is funny or not.

The comic aspects of the play would be any events or bits of text that are meant to be funny.   For a play, some of the comic elements can be found by simply referring to the text, but much that is comic will be added by the actors playing the parts and can only be observed in watching the play performed live.

Some examples of the Comedic structure of A Midsummer Night's Dream are:

  • It ends in at least one marriage.  This play, in fact, ends in three marriages.
  • It contains pairs of lovers who are either in love when the play begins (Lysnader and Hermia, Theseus and Hippolyta), must "win" each other's love (Demetrius and Helena) or are engaged in a "battle of the sexes" (Titania and Oberon).
  • It contains complications to the lover's being together.
  • It contains some issues of appearance versus reality, and some practices of deception that complicate the play's plot.
  • It involves the struggles of youth against their elders as well as the society of the world of Athens versus the society found in the woods.

Some examples of comic events in the play are:

  • All of the Mechanicals, including the play within a play that they perform in Act V.  By the way, this comic play is meant to be a spoof of another classic play structure -- a Tragedy.
  • The tricks played on both Bottom and the Lovers by Puck, and the mix-ups that ensue (especially the comic fight between the Lovers in Act III).
  • Bottom himself.  This character is the main "clown" of the play, and is meant to spoof all the overly-dramatic,stage-hogging actors that Shakespeare knew.  Most everything that Bottom says and does is meant to be comic.

For more on these terms and A Midsummer Night's Dream, please follow the links below.

 

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