A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Worlds Collide
Four worlds collide in a magical woods one night in midsummer in William Shakespeare’s mystical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The mythological duke of Athens, on the eve of his wedding to the newly defeated Queen of the Amazons, is called upon by the mortal Egeus to settle a quarrel. Hermia, Egeus’s vociferous daughter, refuses to marry the man her father has betrothed to her, the enamored Demetrius. Theseus sides with authoritarian Egeus and forces Hermia to marry Demetrius or face death. Defiantly, Hermia and her love, Lysander, resolve to elope and abscond into the woods, confessing their plan only to Hermia’s covetous friend, Helena. Helena, in a rash attempt to earn Demetrius’s love, divulges to him the lovers’ plan. He sets off to retrieve Hermia and Helena follows in hopes of soliciting his love.
In another plane of imagination, Oberon, King of the fairies, desires to possess the Indian boy that Titania, Queen of the fairies, has adopted. When she refuses to relinquish the boy, Oberon schemes with his servant, Puck, and commands him to retrieve a flower to use for a spell in which the person under the spell falls in love with the first person seen. Oberon plans to use the spell on Titania and charm her into falling in love with a hideous creature while Oberon takes the Indian boy. While waiting for Puck to return with the flower, Oberon witnesses the pitiful persistence of Helena to win Demetrius. Upon Puck’s recovery of the flower, Oberon takes enough to fulfill his plan and leaves Puck with the rest, instructing him to help the poor mortal girl whose love is unrequited.
While Puck journeys on his m…
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…asked to explain their crazy night, the only explanation that can be given is that of a dream.
Therefore, there is no other way for Shakespeare to end this crazy entanglement of lovers, mythological beings, fairies, and artisans but to explain it as a dream. Throughout the play, with the nighttime atmosphere and reoccurrence of sleep, the dreamy state of the characters is passed on to the audience. The play itself is left inconclusive when the characters depart, with questions remaining in the audience’s mind, but Puck’s closing monologue explains that puzzlement is the appropriate emotion to be feeling during the course of the play. He goes on to persuade the audience that the only logical explanation for the unusualness and ambiguity of the play is that, just as the characters themselves experienced, the audience has just awoke from a fantastical dream.