Introduction to A Midsummer Night's Dream

William Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream between 1595 and 1596, and it was first produced around 1600. One of Shakespeare’s early comedies, it distinguishes itself in its originality. Unlike many of his other works, Shakespeare did not primarily rely on source materials in composing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Set in Athens, the play follows the turbulence, heartache, and eventual happiness of two Athenian couples, all of which is complicated by the entertaining antics of meddling fairies. The main plot involves two sets of couples—Hermia and Lysander, and Helena and Demetrius—whose romances are tangled and twisted by the whims of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, and their servant, Puck.

Shakespeare’s lighthearted play explores the capricious, dream-like, and sometimes ridiculous nature of love. A Midsummer Night’s Dream brings further humor with its play-within-a-play structure, in which a group of craftsmen celebrate the upcoming marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta by putting on a badly performed play.

A Brief Biography of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was an English poet and playwright. Despite his widely accepted status as the greatest and most influential figure in the history of English-language literature, relatively little of his life is known. He grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon in a family of comfortable means. At eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children. As a young man, Shakespeare moved to London and became involved in the theater community as an actor, playwright, and company owner. Over the next two decades, his plays became increasingly popular, and his theater company thrived. In 1613, Shakespeare retired to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he died several years later of unknown causes. Given the immense erudition of Shakespeare’s work and the paucity of information about his life, some critics and readers have suspected that Shakespeare was in fact an aristocrat writing under a pseudonym. However, these suspicions remain unsubstantiated.

Shakespeare’s literary output includes a cycle of 154 sonnets, two narrative poems, and 39 plays that range across comedy, tragedy, and history. His formal virtuosity—especially his mastery of prosody, metaphor, and wordplay—are evident throughout all of his work, and his plays are celebrated for their rich dramatic structures and psychological depth.

Frequently Asked Questions about A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

This is an interesting question, and there is no single answer which is obviously right. A Midsummer Night's Dream, even more than most of Shakespeare's comedies, is truly an ensemble piece, and no...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 12:33 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Unlike most of Shakespeare's other plays, there is no clear antagonist A Midsummer Night's Dream. Instead, several characters act in ways that precipitate conflict. They don't possess inherently...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 1:38 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in and around Athens, in ancient Greece. The play was written around 1595 and is believed to have been set around the twelfth century BCE. Some...

Latest answer posted November 23, 2020, 2:52 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Although it is a comedy above all, A Midsummer Night’s Dream includes a variety of tones, from the serious to the magical to the romantic. The overarching tone, however, is a satirically humorous...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 11:40 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is important because it remains one of Shakespeare’s most beloved and well-known comedies. Written in 1595 or 1596, the play continues to be read, studied, performed,...

Latest answer posted November 21, 2020, 12:26 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Puck's mistake regarding the love potion is pure farce. As in most farce comedy, Puck's mistake is the result of a misunderstanding, in this case between himself and Oberon when Puck is given his...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 12:15 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The play which Bottom, Quince, and their company of actors perform before Theseus and his court is known by the portentous title of The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 12:09 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare's plays are generally considered to fall into three broad categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies. A Midsummer Night's Dream is considered a comedy. There are certainly some...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 5:00 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Puck is an inveterate trickster, a mischievous sprite who enjoys nothing better than playing silly pranks on others. High or low, mortal or immortal, anyone can find themselves on the receiving end...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2020, 11:23 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The moon is mentioned often during A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as the title suggests, much of the play takes place by moonlight. Theseus first refers to the moon at the very beginning of the...

Latest answer posted November 21, 2020, 1:20 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

In act 2, scene 1, of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck explains to another sprite that Oberon, king of the fairies, is angry with his queen, Titania, because she has a beautiful young Indian boy as...

Latest answer posted November 21, 2020, 11:23 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

There are only nine scenes in A Midsummer Night's Dream, very few by the standards of a Shakespeare play. The most important of them is act 5, scene 1. This is the only scene in act 5, and it...

Latest answer posted November 21, 2020, 12:00 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Hermia and Helena have a very strong friendship. It's the kind of friendship that endures through thick and thin, throughout life's many ups and downs. And there are certainly more than a few of...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2020, 8:56 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The four main plots of A Midsummer Night's Dream are as follows: The Wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta This is the simplest of the four plots and would not constitute a story on its own. The duke of...

Latest answer posted April 24, 2021, 10:44 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Because it is a comedy, this play doesn't weigh as heavily as some of Shakespeare's other works in a consideration of deep moral lessons. It is quite entertaining in a light and farcical way. The...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 1:35 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The title of William Shakespeare's romantic comedy fantasy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, written in about 1595 or 1596 and first published in 1600, is derived from a pre-Christian European holiday,...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 5:05 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

At the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck addresses the audience, giving particular advice should they have been upset by the play: If we shadows have offended,Think but this, and all is...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 12:29 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream ends with the four human lovers, now properly sorted out, returning to Athens. Theseus finds their story improbable and thinks it must have been a dream. Hippolyta,...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 11:45 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comic play written by William Shakespeare. It is set in Athens on the eve of the marriage ceremony of Theseus (the Duke of Athens) and Hippolyta (the Queen of the...

Latest answer posted November 20, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Confusion begins when Puck, following Oberon's orders to have Demetrius fall for Helena, mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and drops the love potion meant for Demetrius into Lysander's eyes. Puck...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

1 educator answer
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Summary