What literary devices are found in act 2, scene 2, of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One literary device we see in act 2, scene 2, of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a pun. After Titania falls asleep and is enchanted by Oberon's use of the magic flower, Lysander and Hermia enter the scene, feeling exhausted for having lost their way through the woods. Lysander suggests they find a place to sleep for the night. Wanting to preserve her maidenhood, Hermia tells Lysander to find his own bed away from her saying, "Lie further off yet, do not lie so near" (44). In response, Lysander makes a pun out of the word lie. On the one hand, he is using it to mean unfaithfulness; on the other hand, he is using it to speak of lying with Hermia, which has sexual implications. We first see Lysander use the word lie to mean unfaithfulness when he protests his innocence, saying, "O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!," then continues to profess his love for only Hermia, speaking of how their hearts are united (45). He further shows his double meaning of the word lie when he says, "For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie," meaning, in lying next to Hermia, he is not being unfaithful (52).

A second literary device we see in this scene is foreshadowing. Hermia continues to plead with Lysander to allow her to preserve her chastity by lying far away from her, as we see in the following two lines:

Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid. (58-59)

Little does she know that in speaking of "separation," she is foreshadowing their future separation. Lysander will soon be mistakenly enchanted by Puck through the magic flower that makes Lysander fall in love with Helena instead of Hermia. Further foreshadowing is seen when Hermia begs Lysander to never change his love for her:

So far be distant; and, good night sweet friend:
Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end! (60-61)

Little does she know that Lysander's love for her soon will change, and the fact that she begs for his love not to change hints to the reader that major changes are soon to come.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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