A Midsummer Night's Dream- Shakespeare This play focuses on the power of imagination and its ability to overcome, fix, redeem, forgive, love, and write. Find three examples of how imagination...

A Midsummer Night's Dream- Shakespeare

This play focuses on the power of imagination and its ability to overcome, fix, redeem, forgive, love, and write. Find three examples of how imagination either functions or is imagined to function inside the play. Think not only about statements made by Theseus and Puck but about the play produced by the rude mechanicals, Bottom’s experience, the lovers spats, the role of drama, and so on.

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This assignment is designed to get students to think about Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream thematically, which means that as you work on developing your own answer to it. Rather than simply summarizing the play, you are being asked to pull together what the play is saying about how dreaming and imagination affect characters. 

The starting point for such a thematic analysis is actually the very end of the play in which Puck offers the following disclaimer:

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber'd here . . .

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream . . .

As you write an essay in response to this prompt, you might want to assert that Puck (and Shakespeare himself) is being disingenuous in disclaiming the power of the imagination. In fact, it is the imagination of the characters (and of people in general) and their ability to picture things as other than they actually are that allows change. 

First, you might discuss the two young lovers. Their problems are straightforward. Hermia loves Lysander but her father wants her to marry Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, who is engaged to Hermia. The young women are close friends and this love issue is affecting their friendship. The efforts of the young lovers to straighten out these problems fail in the real world. They are only resolved in the dream world of the forest through the intervention of the fairies, which are imaginary creatures.

The play within the play of the mechanicals about Pyramus and Thisbe also shows the effect of imagination on love. The key element of the plot is that Pyramus's imagining the death of Thisbe to the lion has the real effect of causing him to commit suicide and his suicide causes Thisbe eventually to kill herself. In other words, the death of the two lovers is caused by their imaginations. 

Thus as you work on writing your essay, you should look at how the imagination has real effects within the narrative of the play, leading to positive or negative outcomes for lovers. Finally, you might conclude with returning to Puck's speech and mentioning yet another reality, that of Shakespeare, whose imagination, as it "bodies forth / The forms of things unknown" actually earns real money for him, turning him into a wealthy man. The playgoers spend real money to attend the play, spend real time watching it, and contribute to real salaries for real members of Shakespeare's company.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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