What is the relation between dream and magic in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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One of the messages of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is that there is a fine line between dreams and magic.  At the end of the play, Puck speaks directly to the audience and comments that if they did not like the play, it was just a dream.

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber'd here(420)

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream (Act 5)

The play’s title gets you ready for magic.  “Midsummer Night” is a magical time, and the mention of “dream” indicates fanciful elements.  We are freer in our dreams, and we use them to explore the deeper meaning in our lives.

Dreams are mentioned at several other points in the play.  Several characters describe the passage of time or confusion as dreams.

When they next wake, all this derision

Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision;

And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,

With league whose date till death shall never end. (Act 3, Scene 2)

There’s also the blur of dream and reality.  Hippolyta and Theseus discuss this in the beginning of Act 5.  They wonder if the lovers are telling the truth, or describing a dream. In a way, everything they went through was a dream.  They were under the influence of the anointments most of the time, and so they did not really know what they were doing.

Bottom comments about his experience with Titania as if it were a dream.  He assumes it was, because he falls asleep and wakes up thinking he missed his cue.  This further blurs the lines between dream and magic.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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