What is the significance of “dream” in the title of the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, play by Shakespeare, as the play suggests it has Dream in the title itself. There is much dream in this drama, to begin with we have dream of Hermia and Bottom. It is not just any dream that is mentioned here but “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which was a festive time with many associated Pre- Christian ceremonies. There is a saying that if a young virgin spent the night in the forest, she would have a vision or dream of the man she would marry.

Therefore, there is one such dream in the play. After escaping with her lover in forest she saw a Serpent in her dream, who is eating her heart and she calls to Lysander for help who was just standing and watching doing nothing to save her, this was the symbol of betrayal by Lysander that Hermia feel in her dream. When she wakes up, Lysander was not there at all and she convinces herself that she was dreaming and that she dreamt was just a dream. None of this multiple illusion hides the fact that Lysander has already abandoned her for Helena. The dream is like the forest which intensifies horrid things that otherwise hover in the air.

For instances, Helena and Hermia have been friends since childhood and there is no hint of rupture in their friendship. Of course, Hermia’s father Egeus wants Demetrius to marry Hermia, whereas Helena is in love with Demetrius, but even this does not restrain their friendship. It is only in the forest that they quarrel and come close to blows, the only time in any Shakespeare play that women come so close to physical violence against each other. In something similar, Hermia’s dream presages the separation between her and Lysander. She is as frightened by the Serpent as she is by Lysander’s betrayal.

The other dream is that of Bottom’s dream, one he claims to have had when Puck’s spell is lifted from him. In fact, of course he remembers actual events as a dream, and it in this supposed dream that he sees the possibility of cutting across social barriers and having relationship with a queen, but decides not to tell it to anyone. After all, Romantic comedy never rocks the social boat but maintains social hierarchies.

The significance of the dream

Both dreams have been much commented on by critics, these dreams have been especially tempting for psychoanalytical critics. For example; some of them claim that the Serpent in Hermia’s dream represents the male genital organ and Hermia expresses fear of sexuality when she is frightened by it.

Psychoanalysis is a form of mental therapy that investigates the interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind. Hence psychoanalytical criticism uses the methods of psychoanalysis and applied them to literature. The main aim of psychoanalysis is to uncover the truth, unconscious motivations of the author as well as the characters. Therefore, Psychoanalytical critics believed that area of drama or interplay or action is at the individual psychological level, and that the social aspects such as class conflicts are of comparatively less importance. They privilege or highlight individual subjectivity.

According to Freudian interpretation, who was considered to be the man who began Psychoanalysis, he argued that sometimes a wish that is frustrated in real life can be satisfied by an imaginary wish- fulfillment. Hence, all dreams, even frightening nightmares are the fulfillment of such wishes, but in disguise. The reason for the need for disguise is that desires sometimes come face to face with social prohibitions, with things that society does not permit, and in dreams there is a veil over their real meaning.

Therefore, the dreams that we witness in the play operate cathartically upon the characters, providing a form of therapy whereby each one can discard their obsession. According to Freudian view of dream, once the dream is over it leaves each character with a greater perception of others and a greater insight into themselves.

Thus, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare takes all the characters to the forest where dream sequence begins in the moonlight between the Athenian lovers. The journey of dream into the forest takes them into a new world that is part of dream and part of reality.

  • Langue and Parole
  • Scansion
  • Metre and Metrics
  • Figure of Speech

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