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The play that I have recently been studying is called ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, written by William Shakespeare, in approximately 1594. In the Elizabethan times, paper was expensive so Shakespeare didn’t physically write down his plays, therefore they are not accurate. ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was first printed in 1600. In the play, Shakespeare shows us a variety of different types of love, this is the focus of my essay. In this essay I will compare, contrast and discuss Shakespeare’s approach to displaying these various types of love through his characters, the art of theatre and dramatic devices.
Shakespeare has used many characters in the play, some with similar names such as Hermia and Helena to try and confuse the audience. In the play the characters run in parallel worlds; the fairies and the people of Athens. Throughout the play these two interact to cause further confusion, plus the Elizabethan’s would have liked this, as they believed in supernatural.
Firstly, there is Theseus, the Duke of Athens, who plans to soon marry Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, who share a mature love. Helena is in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius loves Hermia, Egeus’ daughter.
Hermia and Lysander are both deeply in love with each other, even though Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius. Hermia and Helena’s names are similar to further confuse the love situation. There are the mechanicals, which perform a play-within-a-play called Pyramus and Thisbe for the Duke, which is a very dramatic device used my Shakespeare.
These include; Quince the carpenter, Snug the joiner, Bottom the weaver, Flute the bellows mender, Snout the tinker and Starveling the tailor. The Queen of the fairies is Titania and the King of the fairies is Oberon.
Titania and Oberon are also deeply in love, and share a jealous love. Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, works for Oberon. Titania has an adopted child, the changling boy, who is half fairy, half human. Oberon is jealous of him as he gets a lot of Titania’s attention. Oberon also wants the changling boy to work for him. Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed are all fairies that work for Titania. In Act 1, Scene 1, Shakespeare presents us with lots of different types of love. At the beginning of the scene celebrations are being prepared for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding.
The two share a mature love and arrange to be married in four days, and four nights, “Four days will quickly steep themselves into nights: / Four nights will quickly dream away the time… ” Theseus is called into a situation where Hermia is disobeying her father, Egeus, “Full of vexation, come I, with complaint / Against my child, my daughter Hermia. ” This means she must either be executed or live the life of a nun. She has been told she must marry Demetrius, but she is heavily in love with Lysander. To help prevent confusion the four main characters are introduced individually.
Lysander and Demetrius are each asked to stand forth which is an excellent example of Shakespeare’s stage direction, “Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her. Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious Duke, This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child. ” Theseus asking her what she thinks of the situation, and advising her that she should listen to her father, now introduces Hermia, “What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid. ” Then finally the fourth main character is introduced: Helena.
By her upbringing in the conversation as Lysander tells Theseus and Egeus that Demetrius “made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena. ” This was thought as wrong in the Elizabethan times as you were meant to remain a virgin until married. Helena has an obsessive love for Demetrius and Demetrius doesn’t want anything to do with her, as he loves Hermia. Helena’s obsession over Demetrius made me feel sorry for Helena, as she felt rejected and unloved. Demetrius is jealous of Lysander as he has Hermia’s love and Helena is jealous of Hermia as she has Demetrius’ love.
Hermia and Lysander both share an ‘impossible’ and difficult type of love as nobody seems to want them to be together, which is like Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (a story about forbidden love). Hermia and Helena share a friendly love, but that starts to fall apart because of all the other confused love. Lysander and Hermia plan to run away together to Lysander’s widow aunt’s to be married. Hermia tells Helena this, as they are best friends therefore they are meant to trust each. Helena betrays Hermia by telling Demetrius their plans.
She does this as she feels that he will be very grateful and love her. This gets her nowhere as Demetrius wasn’t impressed and it just got her into more bother. Demetrius chases after Hermia to stop her from marrying Lysander, and Helena follows him. Titania and Oberon, the King and Queen of the fairies, share a very jealous love. “What, jealous Oberon? ” Oberon is always wanting Titania’s full attention, but this is not possible as she has a child to care for, (the changling boy) as promised to an old friend of hers, “The Fairy land buys not the child from me, / His mother was a votaress of my order…
” Throughout the play the fairy world conflicts which the human world. Shakespeare does this by twisting the two together. The fairies are very involved in the humans love problems as they are trying to help them. Sometimes their meddling makes matters worse, but things always get worse before they get better. The humans are not aware of the fairies helping them as they can’t see them, but the audience watching would be able to which is another good example of Shakespeare’s stage craft.
Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, who is Oberon’s fairy servant has the role of helping Oberon with his problems. But Puck often gets things wrong or mixed up as we see later in the play. Elizabethans believed in the supernatural, therefore the affect of the fairy world conflicting with the human world would make them really interested in the play and wanting to know what happened next. They got involved in the plays by shouting out, making noises, clapping etc. So having the fairies world twisted into the play would mean that they would enjoy the play a lot.
Elizabethans also didn’t go to the theatre to watch a play; they went to listen to it, unlike today. When Oberon and Titania argue about the changling boy, the weather is affected. This would amaze an Elizabethan audience; therefore their reaction would possibly be livelier than from a modern audience. Also though, the Elizabethans would probably not see this as unusual as they believed in the supernatural, but it would be very different for a modern audience as we won’t think that was possible.
We would still be engaged in the topic of love. Lysander and Hermia run away together to get married to Lysander’s widowed aunts, therefore go through the woods. Demetrius runs after them to prevent Hermia marrying Lysander, and Helena follows him. This leaves all four main characters in the woods. This brings us to the main events in the play, as all the action occurs in the woods. The fairies live in the woods, this makes the human world and fairy world come together.
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