What does "The best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse if imagination amend them" mean? Explain. (Act V, scene 1)

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gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Theseus says this near the end of the play. It means that the best play is only a shadow (a limited outline or imitation of life), and the worst play no worse (than the shadow, or than the play put on by the rude mechanicals). It shows Theseus' kind character, nudges the audience that they've been laughing at people's limitations (rather than entering into the spirit of the play), and comments on the larger play itself that the audiences is watching.

voyager41's profile pic

voyager41 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

It is a play within a play as the other answer says

but more broadly it applies to the whole play

midsummer night's dream and then beyond that

in some way to all this world of appearances--

compunded of reality and illusion as singer's

gimpel the fool remarked.

also the note that 'no worse' with the addition of

imagination is happy advice for seeing and

listening to many things isnt it?

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