To what extent do the two settings – city and woods—structure the play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"?Why is the round-trip journey from one setting to the other necessary for the lovers? The...

To what extent do the two settings – city and woods—structure the play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"?

Why is the round-trip journey from one setting to the other necessary for the lovers? The rulers? The “hempen homespuns”? -- if you can help me with any of these i would really appreciate it. thank you

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main theme of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the creative power of the imagination which, working well with Nature, serves its blessings upon mankind.  And, for the development of this theme, the city and the woods both provide settings for the creative imagination.  Initially, in the expostion, a conflict arises between Egeus and his daughter, who does not want to marry the man he has chosen for her.  This conflict in the city precipitates the flight of Hermia, the daughter, who flees to meet her lover, Lysander in the woods.

Of course, while they are in the woods, others arrive and complicate situations further.  It is clear that Shakespeare delighted much in the imagery and language of this play. And, it is only in the woods that the totally disparate worlds of royalty, commoner, and supernatural creatures can come delightfully together.  With comedy and poetic imagination, these elements are unified in the play. Puck, of course, is the unifying character who adds much to the drama through his misplacing of the magic dust upon the eyelids of the wrong lover.  Yet, while he is the cause of the confusion, the fairies/supernatural element is that which effects the reconciliation of the families. 

With the example of Oberon and Titiana, the audience realizes their connection to the human characters; certainly, they have their share of human frailities.  For, the fairies are capricious and irrational; these two qualities are ones that Shakespeare indicates as influencing human love relationships.  With Puck as the interpreter of the frailities of the humans, he ends the play with his apology after the rulers of the supernatural world bless the mortals who are happily united,

If we shadows have offended,/Think but this, and all is mended,/That you have but slumbr'ed here/While these visions did appear/And this weak and idle theme/No more yielding than a dream/Gentles, do not reprehend. (V,i,423-429)

The title of Shakespeare's play clearly makes a significant allusion to the nature of this imaginative comedy.  Without the dreams induced by the fairies, the humans cannot work out their conflicts to the amicable conclusion of the play.

 

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