In William Shakespeare's ''A Midsummer Night's Dream,'' the relationships between Oberon and Titania, Theseus and Hippolyta, Lysander and Hermia, and . Lysander and Hermia represent a couple who is physically devoted to each other but is also not the strongest of couples. We see their weaknesses as a couple. William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedic love story that details Helena and Hermia's pursuit of the men they love. While the two.
Though Demetrius is deliberately cruel towards her, Helena remains intent in her devotion. Her ardor catches the attention of Oberonwho commands that Puck enchant Demetrius so that he will fall back in love with Helena.
When Puck mistakenly enchants a sleeping Lysander instead, Lysander wakes and falls instantly in love with Helena. He pursues a shocked and hurt Helena, deserting a sleeping Hermia.
Oberon, trying to correct Puck's error, then puts the potion on Demetrius. Confused by the two men's change in behaviour, Helena concludes that the other three lovers have banded together to ridicule her. Helena is left confused and hurt by how cruel and unkind her closest friend and her two suitors have become.
In the scene's climax, she and Hermia nearly come to blows while the two men set out to kill one another to prove who is more worthy of Helena's affections. Oberon commands Puck to correct the enchantment placed on Lysander.
Separated by Oberon's command and Puck's magic, and with dawn approaching, the lovers each go sleep again. Puck crushes another herb into Lysander's eyes, negating the effect of the first one. When the lovers are discovered in the morning by a hunting Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus, all is put to rights. Demetrius claims that a metaphorical 'sickness' made him love Hermia, but in health, his love has returned to Helena.
The performers are so terrible playing their roles that the guests laugh as if it were meant to be a comedy, and everyone retires to bed. Afterwards, Oberon, Titania, Puck, and other fairies enter, and bless the house and its occupants with good fortune. After all the other characters leave, Puck "restores amends" and suggests that what the audience experienced might just be a dream.
Engraving from a painting by Henry Fuselipublished It is unknown exactly when A Midsummer Night's Dream was written or first performed, but on the basis of topical references and an allusion to Edmund Spenser 's Epithalamionit is usually dated or early Some have theorised that the play might have been written for an aristocratic wedding for example that of Elizabeth Carey, Lady Berkeleywhile others suggest that it was written for the Queen to celebrate the feast day of St.
Johnbut no evidence exists to support this theory. In any case, it would have been performed at The Theatre and, later, The Globe. Though it is not a translation or adaptation of an earlier work, various sources such as Ovid 's Metamorphoses and Chaucer 's " The Knight's Tale " served as inspiration. The play belongs to the early-middle period of the author, when Shakespeare devoted his attention to the lyricism of his works. The title page of Q1 states that the play was "sundry times publickely acted" prior to It was the first festive day and night when Adonis was allowed to depart the underworld to spend six months with his paramour, Aphrodite.
It was considered a time to celebrate the first bliss of new and reunited lovers. The wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta and the mistaken and waylaid lovers, Titania and Bottom, even the erstwhile acting troupe, model various aspects and forms of love. It was written for a wedding, and part of the festive structure of the wedding night. The audience who saw the play in the public theatre in the months that followed became vicarious participants in an aristocratic festival from which they were physically excluded.
My purpose will be to demonstrate how closely the play is integrated with a historically specific upper-class celebration. He writes that the fairies make light of love by mistaking the lovers and by applying a love potion to Titania's eyes, forcing her to fall in love with an ass. Hermia and Lysander are both met by Puck, who provides some comic relief in the play by confounding the four lovers in the forest.
However, the play also alludes to serious themes. At the end of the play, Hippolyta and Theseus, happily married, watch the play about the unfortunate lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, and are able to enjoy and laugh at it. Problem with time[ edit ] There is a dispute over the scenario of the play as it is cited at first by Theseus that "four happy days bring in another moon".
It is possible that the Moon set during the night allowing Lysander to escape in the moonlight and for the actors to rehearse, then for the wood episode to occur without moonlight. Theseus's statement can also be interpreted to mean "four days until the next month". Another possibility is that, since each month there are roughly four consecutive nights that the moon is not seen due to its closeness to the sun in the sky the two nights before the moment of new moon, followed by the two following itit may in this fashion indicate a liminal "dark of the moon" period full of magical possibilities.
This is further supported by Hippolyta's opening lines exclaiming "And then the moon, like to a silver bow New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities.
The play also intertwines the Midsummer Eve of the title with May Dayfurthering the idea of a confusion of time and the seasons. This is evidenced by Theseus commenting on some slumbering youths, that they "observe The rite of May". Titania and Bottom Maurice Hunt, Chair of the English Department at Baylor Universitywrites of the blurring of the identities of fantasy and reality in the play that make possible "that pleasing, narcotic dreaminess associated with the fairies of the play".
This also seems to be the axis around which the plot conflicts in the play occur. Hunt suggests that it is the breaking down of individual identities that leads to the central conflict in the story. It is driven by a desire for new and more practical ties between characters as a means of coping with the strange world within the forest, even in relationships as diverse and seemingly unrealistic as the brief love between Titania and Bottom: In describing the occupations of the acting troupe, he writes "Two construct or put together, two mend and repair, one weaves and one sews.
All join together what is apart or mend what has been rent, broken, or sundered.
Further, the mechanicals understand this theme as they take on their individual parts for a corporate performance of Pyramus and Thisbe. Marshall remarks that "To be an actor is to double and divide oneself, to discover oneself in two parts: It seems that a desire to lose one's individuality and find identity in the love of another is what quietly moves the events of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
As the primary sense of motivation, this desire is reflected even in the scenery depictions and the story's overall mood. Green explores possible interpretations of alternative sexuality that he finds within the text of the play, in juxtaposition to the proscribed social mores of the culture at the time the play was written.
He writes that his essay "does not seek to rewrite A Midsummer Night's Dream as a gay play but rather explores some of its 'homoerotic significations' Slights albeit all the characters are played by males.
Upon their arrival in Athens, the couples are married. Marriage is seen as the ultimate social achievement for women while men can go on to do many other great things and gain social recognition. In reference to the triple wedding, he says, "The festive conclusion in A Midsummer Night's Dream depends upon the success of a process by which the feminine pride and power manifested in Amazon warriors, possessive mothers, unruly wives, and wilful daughters are brought under the control of lords and husbands.
A connection between flowers and sexuality is drawn. The juice employed by Oberon can be seen as symbolising menstrual blood as well as the sexual blood shed by virgins. While blood as a result of menstruation is representative of a woman's power, blood as a result of a first sexual encounter represents man's power over women. Tennenhouse contrasts the patriarchal rule of Theseus in Athens with that of Oberon in the carnivalistic Faerie world.
The disorder in the land of the fairies completely opposes the world of Athens. He states that during times of carnival and festival, male power is broken down.
Hermia - Wikipedia
For example, what happens to the four lovers in the woods as well as Bottom's dream represents chaos that contrasts with Theseus' political order. However, Theseus does not punish the lovers for their disobedience. According to Tennenhouse, by forgiving the lovers, he has made a distinction between the law of the patriarch Egeus and that of the monarch Theseuscreating two different voices of authority.
This distinction can be compared to the time of Elizabeth Iin which monarchs were seen as having two bodies: Elizabeth's succession itself represented both the voice of a patriarch as well as the voice of a monarch: The earliest such piece of criticism was a entry in the diary of Samuel Pepys.
He found the play to be "the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life". He was preoccupied with the question of whether fairies should be depicted in theatrical plays, since they did not exist. He concluded that poets should be allowed to depict things which do not exist but derive from popular belief. And fairies are of this sort, as are pigmies and the extraordinary effects of magick. Based on this reasoning, Dryden defended the merits of three fantasy plays: Gildon thought that Shakespeare drew inspiration from the works of Ovid and Virgiland that he could read them in the original Latin and not in later translations.
He felt the depiction of the supernatural was among Shakespeare's strengths, not weaknesses. He especially praised the poetry and wit of the fairies, and the quality of the verse involved.
He felt that the poetry, the characterisation, and the originality of the play were its strengths, but that its major weaknesses were a "puerile" plot and that it consists of an odd mixture of incidents. The connection of the incidents to each other seemed rather forced to Gentleman. He found that the "more exalted characters" the aristocrats of Athens are subservient to the interests of those beneath them.
In other words, the lower-class characters play larger roles than their betters and overshadow them. He found this to be a grave error of the writer. Malone thought that this play had to be an early and immature work of Shakespeare and, by implication, that an older writer would know better.
Malone's main argument seems to derive from the classism of his era. He assumes that the aristocrats had to receive more attention in the narrative and to be more important, more distinguished, and better than the lower class. According to Kehler, significant 19th-century criticism began in with August Wilhelm Schlegel. Schlegel perceived unity in the multiple plot lines. He noted that the donkey's head is not a random transformation, but reflects Bottom's true nature.
He identified the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe as a burlesque of the Athenian lovers. He found the work to be "a delightful fiction"  but when staged, it is reduced to a dull pantomime. He concluded that poetry and the stage do not fit together.
She notes that prior to the s, all stage productions of this play were adaptations unfaithful to the original text. The first was that the entire play should be seen as a dream. Second, that Helena is guilty of "ungrateful treachery" to Hermia. He thought that this was a reflection of the lack of principles in women, who are more likely to follow their own passions and inclinations than men. Women, in his view, feel less abhorrence for moral evilthough they are concerned with its outward consequences.
Coleridge was probably the earliest critic to introduce gender issues to the analysis of this play. Kehler dismisses his views on Helena as indications of Coleridge's own misogynyrather than genuine reflections of Helena's morality. He turned his attention to Theseus' speech about "the lunatic, the lover, and the poet" [a] and to Hippolyta's response to it. He regarded Theseus as the voice of Shakespeare himself and the speech as a call for imaginative audiences.
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He also viewed Bottom as a lucky man on whom Fortune showered favours beyond measure. He was particularly amused by the way Bottom reacts to the love of the fairy queen: Maginn argued that "Theseus would have bent in reverent awe before Titania.
Bottom treats her as carelessly as if she were the wench of the next-door tapster. He viewed Oberon as angry with the "caprices"  of his queen, but unable to anticipate that her charmed affections would be reserved for a weaver with a donkey's head.
In his view, Shakespeare implied that human life is nothing but a dream, suggesting influence from Plato and his followers who thought human reality is deprived of all genuine existence. Ulrici noted the way Theseus and Hippolyta behave here, like ordinary people. He agreed with Malone that this did not fit their stations in life, but viewed this behaviour as an indication of parody about class differences. He thought that this play indicated Shakespeare's maturity as a playwright, and that its "Thesean harmony"  reflects proper decorum of character.
He also viewed Bottom as the best-drawn character, with his self-confidence, authority, and self-love. He argued that Bottom stands as a representative of the whole human race. Like Hazlitt he felt that the work is best appreciated when read as a text, rather than acted on stage.
He found the writing to be "subtle and ethereal", and standing above literary criticism and its reductive reasoning. He denied the theory that this play should be seen as a dream. He argued that it should be seen as an ethical construct and an allegory. He thought that it was an allegorical depiction of the errors of sensual love, which is likened to a dream. In his view, Hermia lacks in filial obedience and acts as if devoid of conscience when she runs away with Lysander.
Lysander is also guilty for disobeying and mocking his prospective father-in-law. Pyramus and Thisbe also lack in filial obedience, since they "woo by moonlight"  behind their parents' backs.
The fairies, in his view, should be seen as "personified dream gods". Not in Atticabut in the Indies. His views on the Indies seem to Kehler to be influenced by Orientalism. He speaks of the Indies as scented with the aroma of flowers and as the place where mortals live in the state of a half-dream. Gervinus denies and devalues the loyalty of Titania to her friend.
He views this supposed friendship as not grounded in spiritual association. Titania merely "delight in her beauty, her 'swimming gait,' and her powers of imitation". In her resentment, Titania seeks separation from him, which Gervinus blames her for. He described them as homely creatures with "hard hands and thick heads". They are not real artists. Gervinus reserves his praise and respect only for Theseus, who he thinks represents the intellectual man. Like several of his predecessors, Gervinus thought that this work should be read as a text and not acted on stage.
InCharles Cowden Clarke also wrote on this play. Kehler notes he was the husband of famous Shakespearean scholar Mary Cowden Clarke. Charles was more appreciative of the lower-class mechanicals of the play. He commented favourably on their individualisation and their collective richness of character. He thought that Bottom was conceited but good natured, and shows a considerable store of imagination in his interaction with the representatives of the fairy world.
He also argued that Bottom's conceit was a quality inseparable from his secondary profession, that of an actor.
Helena (A Midsummer Night's Dream) - Wikipedia
Hudson, an American clergyman and editor of Shakespeare, also wrote comments on this play. Kehler pays little attention to his writings, as they were largely derivative of previous works. She notes, however, that Hudson too believed that the play should be viewed as a dream. He cited the lightness of the characterisation as supporting of his view. He also argued that Theseus was one of the "heroic men of action"  so central to Shakespeare's theatrical works.
Clapp and Horace Howard Furness were both more concerned with the problem of the play's duration, though they held opposing views. He also viewed the play as representing three phases or movements.
The first is the Real World of the play, which represents reason.
The second is the Fairy World, an ideal world which represents imagination and the supernatural. The third is their representation in art, where the action is self-reflective.
Snider viewed Titania and her caprice as solely to blame for her marital strife with Oberon. She therefore deserves punishment, and Oberon is a dutiful husband who provides her with one. For failing to live in peace with Oberon and her kind, Titania is sentenced to fall in love with a human.