Love, Chaos, and Disorder in Midsummer Night’s Dream Essay

Love can be quite chaotic at times. As much as poets and songwriters promote the idea of idyllic romantic love, the experience in reality is often fraught with emotional turmoil. When people are in love, they tend to make poor decisions, from disobeying authority figures to making rash, poorly thought-out choices. In the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare uses various motifs to illustrate how love, irrationality, and disobedience are thematically linked to disorder.

First, Shakespeare uses the motif of the seasons early on in the play to solidify the connection between love gone awry and chaos. The initial romantic conflict is established when Egeus brings his daughter, Hermia, to Theseus to try and force her into marrying Demetrius, the man of his choice. Hermia has no interest in Demetrius because she is madly in love with Lysander. Unfortunately for her, Theseus sides with Egeus and threatens to enforce Athenian law if she does not obey him. Obviously, this situation is awful for Hermia; she is being kept from her true love. Her options are dismal: she has the choice of disobeying Egeus, betraying Lysander, or living a lonely life as a nun. Either way, she loses. The situation seems completely hopeless. Shakespeare illustrates this hopelessness by connecting Hermia’s grim future with the winter. When Theseus describes Hermia’s potential future, he calls her a “withering” rose and a “barren sister,” destined to a life of “chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon” (Shakespeare 1.1.75). Essentially, Hermia will be trapped in an endless winter. This unnatural seasonal change will become a reality if she becomes a nun and remains celibate. For a young woman who is passionately in love with a young man…

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…spell merely made them fall in love with Helena. However, since they were temporarily “in love,” they acted irrationally, resulting in complete chaos. It was the state of being in love that caused them to make rash decisions, not the spell. Therefore, irrationality and love are connected.

In conclusion, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare effectively uses the motifs of the seasons, the moon, and dreams to show that love, irrationality, and disobedience directly cause chaos. By calling to mind the seasons in unnatural order, describing the moon behaving strangely, and discussing the dualistic, irrational nature of dreams, Shakespeare effectively evokes a sense of chaos and disorder. Linking each of these motifs to the themes of love, irrationality, and disobedience allows Shakespeare to illustrate the disarray that is bound to result from any romance.

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