A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
It is only in the last few decades that the position of women in society has been reexamined. From reading Shakespeare’s plays, we have some information about their negative treatment in the 1500s and 1600s. What, precisely, was this negative treatment of women to which we no longer adhere?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the negative treatment women received from society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

II. Owned by Father
A. Father has the right to choose daughter’s husband
B. Failure of daughter to comply with father’s choice will lead to either death or banishment to a nunnery

III. Unable to Choose Husband
A. See II.
B. Hermia faces death or banishment be eloping with Lysander
C. Hippolyta won in battle by Theseus

IV. Friendships Dependent upon Mate
A. Hermia hates Helena because Lysander loves Helena
B. Helena wants to be like Hermia because Demetrius loves Hermia

V. Hypocrisy in Sexual Values
A. Hermia asks Lysander not to sleep so close to her in the wood since they are not yet married although they are in the act of eloping
B. Although married, Oberon and Titania freely have affairs

Topic #2
People are commonly referred to as “ass” when they behave poorly or stupidly. How has William Shakespeare exemplified such behavior by having Robin Goodfellow (Puck) replace Nick Bottom’s head with that of the animal, an ass?

Outline:
I. Thesis Statement: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare demonstrates the appropriateness of certain animal labels to describe human behavior—to wit, Bottom’s having an ass’s head.

II. The Qualities of Bottom’s Character Which are Similar to Those of the Animal, An Ass
A. Stubbornness as he refuses to allow his friends to see his fear at being alone in the haunted wood
B. Casual awareness of his sexuality when Titania courts him
C. Coarse hair of which he complains to the fairies without realizing he possesses an ass’s head

III. Bottom’s Denial of his Feelings
A. Refuses to join his friends when they flee the haunted wood for fear they will know he realizes (or thinks he realizes) they are making a jest of him
B. Whistles for courage rather than admit his fear when he finds himself in the haunted wood alone
C. Thinks his experience was a dream while probably feeling it was real

IV. Lack of Examination of New Situations
A. Blindly accepts the role of Titania’s lover
B. After being freed of Puck’s spell, doesn’t question why his body no longer has the lightness of a fairy’s

V. Mocks Others
A. Refers to a cobweb’s ability to staunch the flow of blood from a cut when introduced to Cobweb
B. Asks Peaseblossom to remember him to his vegetable family members when introduced to him
C. Refers to mustard’s ability to burn the mouth when introduced to Mustardseed
D. Uses this mockery to pay tribute to the fairies’ attributes

VI. Takes Advantage of Others
A. Tells Mustardseed and Peaseblossom to scratch his face
B. Sends Cobweb on a quest to find a particular kind of bee with a particular kind of honey on a particular flower and to bring the honey-bag back to him unbroken

Topic #3
In life, people will often experience trials and tribulations before they eventually arrive at their destination—be it with their career, relationship, or family. While Egeus and Hermia do not appear reconciled at the end of the play, each of the lovers are united or reunited with their true loves.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The characters in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are successful, after many trials and tribulations, in acquiring their desired relationships.

II. Hermia and Lysander
A. Must go to Athens with Egeus for Duke Theseus’ decision
B. Demetrius competes with Lysander for Hermia’s hand in marriage and has Egeus’ approval
C. Hermia and Lysander decide to defy the law and elope
D. Their elopement is aborted
E. Lysander is temporarily charmed into loving Helena
F. Hermia accuses Helena of “stealing” Lysander’s...

(The entire section is 1,136 words.)