A Midsummer Night's Dream Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Act 5, scene 1. Define "irony." How is the play of Pyramus and Thisbe ironic at Theseus & Hippolyta's wedding?

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Excellent question! Any student studying this comedy neds to think about the relationship between the action of the main play and the action of this sub-play that is a play wthin a play. Essentially, the action of Pyramus and Thisbe is ironic to the action of the main play because it offers an alternative outcome to the comedy. Remember the situation at the beginning of the main play - Hermia faces death for pursuing a love that is censured by both her family and the state. This too is the situation that Pyramus and Thisbe find themselves in - theres is an illicit love that their families do not approve of. Of course, during the course of the main play, this situation is resolved thanks to Puck and Oberon, but we are left thinking of what could have happened and what could have been. It appears there is often only a thin dividing line that separates comedy from tragedy and showing the play of Pyramus and Thisbe at the end of the play offers a kind of reminder of the tragedy that the main play could have so easily been.

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