How does Shakespeare create a sense of magic in the atmosphere in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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One of the clear ways in which Shakespeare creates a sense of magic in this masterful comedy is through the inclusion of fairies. Fairies in Elizabethan times were thought of to be bad spirits who played tricks on people and were responsibile for disease, illness and misfortune. We see this attitude mirrored in the character of Puck and his delight in relating the various tricks he has played to Titania's fairy in Act II Scene 1. However, Shakespeare was responsible for creating the idea of the fairies we think of today - small, elfy-type creatures with gossamer wings, modelled in the fairies of Titania who wait upon Bottom. Magic was definitely something that was believed in during Elizabethan times, when 'rational' explanations were not always available in the same way as today due to scientific advances.

Midsummer Night is the longest day of the year, and traditionally a time associated with madness, love and doing things out of the ordinary (due to the sunstroke from all the sun humans were exposed to). This makes the title particularly fitting to the central theme of the play: that of love. From what we know, Shakespeare wrote this play to be performed at a wedding of nobility, and the play examines the theme of love through looking at a number of different character couplings and with the final 'resolution' or happy ending of marriage. The setting of the wood of course being away from civilisation and the city makes it the perfect place for the magical events that cause the Athenian lovers to fall in and out of love with one another.

Thus the inclusion of fairies and then the magic of the setting in the woods serves to create a magical atmosphere that rightly makes this play seem so fantastical.

 

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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