Study Guide

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
It is only in the last few decades that the position of women in society has been reexamined. From reading Shakespeare’s plays, we have some information about their negative treatment in the 1500s and 1600s. What, precisely, was this negative treatment of women to which we no longer adhere?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the negative treatment women received from society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

II. Owned by Father
A. Father has the right to choose daughter’s husband
B. Failure of daughter to comply with father’s choice will lead to either death or banishment to a nunnery

III. Unable to Choose Husband
A. See II.
B. Hermia faces death or banishment be eloping with Lysander
C. Hippolyta won in battle by Theseus

IV. Friendships Dependent upon Mate
A. Hermia hates Helena because Lysander loves Helena
B. Helena wants to be like Hermia because Demetrius loves Hermia

V. Hypocrisy in Sexual Values
A. Hermia asks Lysander not to sleep so close to her in the wood since they are not yet married although they are in the act of eloping
B. Although married, Oberon and Titania freely have affairs

Topic #2
People are commonly referred to as “ass” when they behave poorly or stupidly. How has William Shakespeare exemplified such behavior by having Robin Goodfellow (Puck) replace Nick Bottom’s head with that of the animal, an ass?

Outline:
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the appropriateness of certain animal labels to describe human behavior—to wit, Bottom’s having an ass’s head.

II. The Qualities of Bottom’s Character Which are Similar to Those of the Animal, An Ass
A. Stubbornness as he refuses to allow his friends to see his fear at being alone in the haunted wood
B. Casual awareness of his sexuality when Titania courts him
C. Coarse hair of which he complains to the fairies without realizing he possesses an ass’s head

III. Bottom’s Denial of his Feelings
A. Refuses to join his friends when they flee the haunted wood for fear they will know he realizes (or thinks he realizes) they are making a jest of him
B. Whistles for courage rather than admit his fear when he finds himself in the haunted wood alone
C. Thinks his experience was a dream while probably feeling it was real

IV. Lack of Examination of New Situations
A. Blindly accepts the role of Titania’s lover
B. After being freed of Puck’s spell, doesn’t question why his body no longer has...

(The entire section is 1136 words.)