Compare A Midsummer Night's Dream to Ovid's Metamorphoses.

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The differences here are obvious: a Latin poem versus an Elizabethan English drama. But the similarities are intriguing. Ovid’s Metamorphosis rings the changes on the idea of transformation (literally, how shapes change) and is, at base, a philosophical argument against “ocular proof” or the logical error of judging essence by superficial appearances. A person’s real “identity” lies in behavior, attitude, essential character, not on outward appearance (a lesson still viable today). Now we see how Titania’s and the rustic Bottom’s relationship exemplifies the same error, as does, to a large degree, the young lovers’ attractions. When Puck uses the magic dust to cast a spell over Titania, after metamorphizing Bottom, the play is dramatically demonstrating Ovid’s warning.  In many respects Drama itself, especially Elizabethan drama, and moreso historical dramas, is a metamorphosis from historical facticity to dramatic transformation, since the playwrights chose those details they wanted to depict to change fact into dramatic form.

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