A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

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What role does misunderstanding play in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

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In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a misunderstanding sets in motion a series of events which causes the four young lovers—Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena—to be involved in the mistaken identities and the complications that ensue between and amongst them in the forest.

Oberon misunderstands the situation with the young lovers. He knows about Helena's pursuit of Demetrius, but he doesn't know about Lysander's love for Hermia and her love for him.

Oberon sends Puck into the world to find the "love-in-idleness" flower, the juice of which causes a person to fall in love with the first person they see when they wake up, so that he can use it on Titania.

OBERON: Fetch me that flower, the herb I show'd thee once.
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees . . .

PUCK: I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes. [2.1.172-175, 178-179]

Puck finds the flower in far less than forty minutes. Oberon takes some of the flowers to use on Titania, which ultimately causes her to fall in love with Bottom, who has an ass's head.

Then Oberon decides to cause Demetrius to fall in love with Helena, and he sends Puck into the forest with the rest of the flowers to put the juice into Demetrius' eyes, and he described Demetrius as wearing Athenian clothing:

OBERON: . . . Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth; anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on. [2.1.264-269]

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