What is the role of the supernatural in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of  A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, Puck appears  and says:

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
that you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream" (V.i.423-28).

In certain ways, the play, like the supernatural, is being cast by Puck (who, as a fairy is a supernatural character) as both belonging together in the realms of the imaginary. The play itself, its title suggests, may itself be something dreamed; as a play it is not real.

The two main settings and themes for the play are those of classical legend (Theseus is a legendary rather than historical Greek figure) and British legend (Puck and the fairies). The two pairs of young lovers and the actors wander into (or dream of) the supernatural world. Like poets who can create happy endings, so after many twists and turns, the magical beings of the play ensure the three couples prosper. Puck, Titania, Oberon, and the fairies are the most strongly supernatural characters, but in another way the play itself is set in an idyllic imaginary world rather than a real one and thematically identifies poetry with the supernatural in its ability to separate ourselves from the everyday.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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