What is the role of the supernatural in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?
The supernatural plays a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by holding up a mirror to relationships and allowing the play to explore them.
The main supernatural element in the play is the fairies. Through the intervention of the fairies, we are able to see how foolish we mortals can be. The fairies cause the lovers to fall in love when they don’t intend to, and make fools of themselves. When the spell is lifted, they see their mistakes. Even Titania falls victim to fairy magic.
My Oberon! What visions have I seen!(75)
Methought I was enamour'd of an ass. (Act 4, Scene 1)
Ultimately, she is able to realize her mistake and fall back in love with the one she belongs to, Oberon. Hermia, Helena, Demetrius and Lysander also are able to break their spells and be in love with the one their supposed to love.
Demetrius is an example of the mirror effect that magic has in the play. After he wakes up, he realizes that he loves Helena.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,—(165)
But by some power it is,—my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gaud
Which in my childhood I did dote upon ... (Act 4, Scene 1)
No longer head over heels in love with Hermia, Demetrius is puzzled by the clarity he now has. The potion's effects have worn off, and everyone seems to know who to be in love with. Though Demetrius was not originally enchanted, losing the recent magic allowed him to see things more clearly and realize he should be and was in love with Helena.
Supernatural elements in A Midsummer Night's Dream are the fairies, the fairy King and Queen (Oberon and Titania), Puck, the changeling boy, and the magic love potion. They serve to move the plot forward, comic relief and create a subplot. Titania and Oberon's feud is another plot in the play that influences the other romantic plots (Hermia and Lysander; Demetrius and Helena). Puck's shenanigans create comic relief.