Comment on the aptness and significance of the title "A Midsummer's Night Dream"?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Waking up in the forest, Nick Bottom actually tells us that he thinks he has been dreaming:

 I have had a most rare vision. I have had a
dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.

Critics, however, often interpret the play not as Bottom's dream, but as Theseus' dream: highlighting the way Theseus and Hippolyta in some way seem to "become" Oberon and Titania (doubles often carried through in the theatre) as part of the "dreaminess" of the play.

If the play is a "dream" though, it is undoubtedly an erotic one. The lovers, falling asleep and awaking to find they are suddenly passionately in love with somebody else - and Titania (a dream version of soon-to-be married Hippolyta) has sex with Bottom (currently transposed into a donkey). Note too that the play ends with three newly-married couples going off to bed.

The play, therefore, is full of dreaming and sleeping - and as for "midsummer", the night of the summer solstice, one of the key pagan festivals: well, you only have to do a little research to discover that the summer solstice was a celebration of fertility and of the planting of the seeds to be harvest in the autumn.

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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