Why is Theseus surprised to see the four lovers sleeping on the ground in Act 4 of A Midsummer Night's Dream?
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The connecting structure of this play is the contrasting mise-en-scenes, when compared and contrasted with the social/cultural range of characters. The romances and love conflicts in the forest, affected by magic, fairy logic, and natural traits, is contrasted with the “civilized” behavior and social ”rules” of Theseus’ class of couples; the young lovers, who belong to the civilized world, have strayed into the forest (not unlike the rustics) and been charmed by that new environment. When Theseus discovers them “awakening from a midsummer night’s dream”, he wonders at the oddness of these two worlds colliding in this way, and remarks on the out-of-place figures, thereby both bringing about a reconciliation of the contrast, and giving the mix-ups a closure that is satisfying both to the world of characters and to the Elizabethan audience.
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