What are the most significant similarities and differences between Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "As You Like it"?
On the surface, the first and most obvious difference is the reality versus magical aspects, As You Like It embracing the former and A Midsummer Night's Dream, predictably, exemplifying the latter. Both of these particular works of Shakespeare utilize deception and disguise to ultimately reveal the greater truths of the human experience. In As You Like It, disguise was used to explore the idea of gender and how it is perceived by society, as well as how people express themselves through gender expectations. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the disguises were produced by magic, lending a fantastical element to the play as the nature of love in all of its complications is exposed. Shakespeare likes to create tension between the more serious ideas and the lighter, comedic elements, which make these plays among some of his most interesting and timely works.
I actually think that As You Like It is definitely a more interesting play in terms of its treatment of gender and how Rosalind "teaches" Orlando how to woo her. A Midsummer Night's Dream, whilst having its more serious elements, in particular the way that it could have so easily been a tragedy and the play within a play, is a more light-hearted, frivolous romp in the forest with the central human characters, the Athenian lovers, showing little growth, development or even distinguishing aspects that can be used to separate them from each other.