What is the parallelism between A Midsummer Night's Dream and the play within it, Pyramus and Thisby?
What function does a play within a play serve in terms of dramatic signifigance and thematic relevance?
The play of Pyramus and Thisbe that occurs in Act V scene 1 acts as a serious reminder in an otherwise humourously comic play of the situation of the lovers at the beginning of the play.
We are encouraged to see the parallels between the situation of Pyramus and Thisbey and Lysander and Hermia - both lovers' unions are blocked by parental will, both lovers try to cheat fate by eloping to the woods together and both lovers suffer as a result of mis-communication and mistakes (Puck makes a mistake with hilarious consequences whilst Pyramus leaps to a conclusion with rather more tragic consequences).
Given its timing in the play, the play within a play, whilst being a very funny bit of drama (although unintentionally) and commenting on the relationship between artifice and reality, also serves as a reminder of how differently things could have been resolved. The recent film production pictures this brilliantly, when the lovers all are suddenly moved by Thisbe's suicide and are forced to see an alternative ending of their story.