What is the significance of the setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream? What major shifts in locale take place, and when do they occur?    

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The setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream alternates between the city of Athens and the enchanted and mysterious forest area just outside of its walls. Specifically, the the three acts in the middle of the play—acts II, III, and IV—take place in the forest, while the play is book-ended by the settings of acts I and V, which take place in Athens and, for the most part, in Theseus' palace.

In the world of the play, every aspect of these two locations are in complete contrast with one another, down to the very nature of the world and laws of reality. The city of Athens is marked by laws, social norms, and a general sense of order. Ironically, however, the laws of the land do nothing but throw the characters of the play's emotions into chaos. We can see that Hermia's indecision, Demetrius' fickle nature, and Lysander's entitlement has caused everyone to behave erratically. For example, while Theseus in this play is understood to be a symbol of patriarchal power, it certainly seems more...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 22, 2019