What is the relationship between the human and fairy world, and why did Shakespeare include fairies in his play?
This play is designed to dramatize the other-worldliness of human love, those elements beyond social and cultural considerations, to celebrate what is “magical” or “dream-like” about the way that couples find each other and pair up. By making the play take place in the forest, a non-human habitation, but bracketing the play with the pending marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta, and then constructing a fanciful world of fairies, and paralleling Oberon and Titania, and then mixing the two worlds with two intrusions upon the fairy world by humans—the fleeing lovers (Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena), and the rustics’ rehearsal (of a play about barriers to lovers, meant to entertain at the “bracket” wedding), Shakespeare has accomplished a “marriage” of his own—the “marriage” of real-world practicalities with the fanciful and less restricted world of the forest (the non-human-inhabited world). Using a “fairy-world” allowed Shakespeare to make visible and stageable those elements of love that are uncontrolled by reason or logic (as Demetrius et al are driven against the parents’ wishes). As literature, the play is complex in these mirrorings and echoings, but on stage in the imitation of the action, the parallels are beautifully articulated.