A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream book cover
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What is the significance of the play within the play Pyramus and Thisby in A Midsummer Night's Dream?  

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This play within a play, performed by a comically bumbling set of lower class actors, provides a commentary on the main action of A Midsummer's Night Dream. Broadly speaking, the play's theme is an exploration love in its many manifestations, with an emphasis on love's irrationality. The players, in Pyramis and Thisbe, show yet another version of love, in this case thwarted love that ends badly, in contrast to the forbidden love of Hermia and Lysander that ends well. The play within a play, though performed as farce , suggests, however obliquely, that love does not always have the happy ending...

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haishikaramful | Student

PLEASE tell me more importance of the play within the play in A Midsummer Night's Dream

lit24 | Student

The 'play within a play' is simultaneously an example of intertextuality and metatheatre. As such it impacts the audience /readers in a very subtle  manner.

Intertextuality: When the main play begins it looks as though it is going to end as a tragedy (Hermia will be executed if she does not obey her father and marry Demetrius). This is immediately underscored in the very next scene itself-Bottom and his company choose a tragedy to be enacted to celebrate Theseus' wedding. But the way they go about rehearsing the play is farcical and the audience/readers  immediately realise Shakespeare's comic intentions.The intertext which has been borrowed from Ovid would have been familiar to Shakespeare's Renaissance audience which would have immediately seen the parallel connection to the main story of the play: parental opposition to romantic love.

Pyramus and Thisby were two lovers living in adjacent houses. Their parents are opposed to their weding and they die under tragic circumstances.

Metatheatre: The discussions of how exactly the story is to be adapted to the actual performance on Theseus' wedding day[ActI sc.2] clearly expresses the unlikeness of art to life and the mysterious likeness of life to art itself. It begs the question does art reflect life or does life reflect art? Shakespeare thus uses the intertext to contrast art and life.

Most importantly all of us play different roles in life and we have multiple identities. Acting in a play is an expression of an individual's (Bottom) strong desire to  take on another  identity atleast for a short while.

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