Which scenes in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream contain the most use of dramatic elements such as voice, movement, costume, or scenery?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Acts 2 and 3 of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream are generally known to contain the most elements of drama since these are the acts in which the climax and resolution occur. In addition, these are the scenes that take place in the mysterious woods with the fairies. Shakespeare uses the woods as a complex symbol to represent an escape from moral corruption in the city of Athens, while at the same time the woods are a wild, mysterious, and dangerous place full of its own corruption.

In act 2, we learn a great deal about what the costuming might look like based on the dialogue spoken by the characters. The elements of drama include literary elements, technical elements, and performance elements; costuming is considered a technical dramatic element ("Elements of Drama," English Language Unit, Gulf University for Science and Technology). One example of a line of dialogue that reveals information about costuming is seen in the opening speech of the unnamed fairy Puck converses with. In the final lines of the speech, the unnamed fairy realizes he recognizes who Puck is and asks him to confirm his identity, ending with the following comment:

Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
Are not you he? (2.1.40-42)

The word hobgoblin is particularly revealing because, according to folklore, a hobgoblin is a small, hairy man that helps out with household chores while the family of the house is asleep and is very fond of practical jokes. Hence, the word hobgoblin indicates to the director what the character Puck might look like.

Also revelatory in terms of costuming and scenery, both technical elements of drama, is the following stage direction:

Enter Oberon at one door, with his Train, and Titania, at another with hers. (2.1)

Since Oberon and Titania are the fairy king and queen, this stage direction informs the director that the two characters should be all dressed up in full regalia accompanied in full attendance.

Symbols can also be important literary elements that function as dramatic elements as well as technical elements since props can be used as symbols. One important symbolic prop for acts 2 and 3 is the magic flower that is used to create the love spells that generate the central conflict of the play. Oberon describes the flower as once having been "milk-white, now purple with love's wound," because Cupid once missed his aim with an arrow, which hit the flower rather than the maiden he was aiming for (2.1.167). The flower not only represents the mystery and magic present in the two acts but also the instability and fickleness of love, a major theme in the play.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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