In A Midsummer Night's Dream, something is present to show a tragic set-up. What or who occurs throughout the play to prevent such tragedy?My guesses are Puck, love, or dreams. Please help!...

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, something is present to show a tragic set-up. What or who occurs throughout the play to prevent such tragedy?

My guesses are Puck, love, or dreams. Please help! Thanks so much! :)

Expert Answers
shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, the opening scene is the tragic set-up you are looking for.  Hermia is brought by her father, Egues, to Theseus, to settle a family dispute according to the law.  Hermia has been pledged in marriage by her father to Demetrius, yet she refuses to wed him, since she is in love with Lysander.  (Sound familiar?  Definitely echoes here of Romeo and Juliet.)  So Hermia is ordered by Theseus to choose:  either marry Demetrius or choose to become a nun or be put to death.

Pretty harsh.  But, remember, in Shakespeare's day a marriage contract was an alliance between families contracted by a girl's father.  She had no say.  So Hermia is pretty outspoken to go against this custom.

Hermia and Lysander decide to run away and this leads to the occurrence that you are describing.  Demetrius is beloved of Helena, who, it is suggested, he dumped for Hermia.  So, once all the four lovers are in the woods, Puck is instructed by Oberon to anoint Demetrius' eyes with a love juice so that he will return Helena's love.  After much comic confusion, Demetrius is left in love with Helena.

However, this doesn't solve the tragic set-up.  It is the mysteries of the comic ending that solves that.  At the end of the play, Egeus still wants his justice, but Theseus inexplicably changes his mind and decides to let the two couples join him in his wedding celebration.  Egeus, however, is not reconciled to this plan, so it is an interesting ending when you think of what the future for Hermia and her father might be.

 

Unlock This Answer Now

Read the study guide:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question