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

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What is the fairies' role in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ?

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The fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream serve many functions. One role is to develop a theme of the play: we (humankind) actually have very little control in this world.

One interpretation of this theme could be seen as a spiritual one; there are forces in this world we cannot see or understand that push us in certain directions. The fairies, particularly Puck, guide the two couples in the woods towards certain actions using their fairy magic. This could represent God, fate, or any other religious beliefs. This interpretation is intriguing because it goes against the main tenets of Humanism which emphasizes the ability of humans to make decisions free of outside influence. This movement was developing during the Renaissance, the time the play was written; however, the play's actual setting is ancient Athens, in a time where polytheism was the central belief; gods and goddesses meddled in the affairs of humans, much like Shakespeare's fairies. He places an extra barrier between the two...

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Fairies in a Midsummer Night's Dream are tiny troublemakers who at times can cause trouble for humans.  Puck, a rogue fairy, creates havoc for Bottom, the hapless full-of-himself actor and creates a vicious love square between Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius.  Shakespeare uses these fairies as comic relief and also uses them to bring about certain actions in the human world.  Without the tampering of the fairies, the characters would not have had the happy ending they did.