Illustration of a donkey-headed musician in between two white trees

A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare
Start Free Trial

A Midsummer Night's Dream is sometimes referred to as a comedy of errors. To what extent do the events that unfold in act 2 help to perpetuate this reference?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream can be thought of as one of the quintessential comedies of error, as it involves hilarious love quarrels brought on by both mistaken identities and pure rotten luck.

In many ways, Act II can be viewed as the epicenter of this reputation, for it is...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream can be thought of as one of the quintessential comedies of error, as it involves hilarious love quarrels brought on by both mistaken identities and pure rotten luck.

In many ways, Act II can be viewed as the epicenter of this reputation, for it is in this part of the play that Oberon and his mischievous servant, Puck, make use of a love potion with disastrous results. Oberon orders Puck to use the potion, which causes a sleeping recipient to fall in love with the first person he or she sees upon waking, on Demetrius, who was last seen fleeing from an enamored Helena. Puck, however, mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, and this mistake causes Lysander to fall in love with Helena, an occurrence that understandably enrages Hermia, Lysander's real true love. Meanwhile, Oberon administers the same love potion to Titania, who later wakes up to fall in love with the ridiculous (and donkey-headed) Bottom. 

In short, Act II sets up the comedic activities for the rest of the play. Furthermore, all of this hilarity is based on errors, mistakes, and blunders enacted by truly buffoonish characters. For this reason, it is easy to see why the play is not only considered a comedy of errors, but also one of Shakespeare's most hilarious pieces. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team