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 who is one of the most strongest and fictional female characters of the play, who loves Lysander but her father is against their love and wanted Hermia to marry Demetrius.
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 play ‘A Midsummer Night`s Dream’ is a parody by most renown playwright Shakespeare, performed between 1595- 1596. This play is very much about ‘Dream’ as title suggests. Shakespeare`s this play is a Romantic comedy set in some place distant from England such as Messina and Athens. Setting of this play in such a places bring all the characters closer to the nature.
This play is one of Shakespeare`s most mainstream work for the stage. It depicts the occasion of Theseus`s marriage (Duke of Athens) with Hippolyta. (queen of Amazon conquest by Theseus in a battle). This play also incorporates the experience of four youthful love stories of Athenian Lovers Hermia- Lysander and Helena- Demetrius who run away in forest when their love is prevented by Hermia`s father and Duke Theseus, Because Egeus (father of Hermia) wants Hermia to marry Demetrius, and also gathering of the Mechanicals on screen, who want to perform a play at Duke Theseus` wedding. The play takes sudden change when queen of fairies creates a confusion between the characters through magic. However, this play is about love and harmonious marriage.
The play within the play:
A Midsummer Night`s Dream is full of confusion as it hovers between sleep and dreaming of the characters change their minds for no known reason. The play within the play was quite common in Elizabethan drama. Shakespeare used it in ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and ‘A Midsummer Night` Dream’. Many writers and authors used this in their drama the play within the play like Ben Jonson has used it in ‘Bartholomew Fair‘ and John Webster in ‘The Duchess of Mafi‘. Simultaneously Shakespeare`s the play within the play in Midsummer Night`s Dream, the loving couples are not happy in their love. They either use to quarrel or are on the verge of quarrelling. By making his fairies use magic, Shakespeare has all the right couples suddenly and contentedly in love.
While on the other side, The Mechanicals want to perform a play at Theseus` wedding but they are uncertain what it should be about, so they go to forest for rehearsals in the dark light so that they can rehearse without fear of stealing their ideas. The author`s skillful development of these simultaneously unfolding of the play creates a laugh for audience.
The Mechanical`s play is both similar and different to this. Pyramus and Thisbe are in love and want to marry but their families have quarreled and will not allow it. At the end, they are separated forever by death. The story reminds of Romeo and Juliet which some critics think Shakespeare parodied in the Mechanical`s play. The more likely explanation is that the Mechanicals’ “lamentable comedy” dramatizes the tragic outcome of a parental injunction against love, which is how the Lysander- Hermia story may have ended, with comedy lamentable or not, fits in with the marriage celebration.
Elizabethan dramatist often used the paly within the play to satirize aspects of theatre culture, same as Shakespeare`s satiric targets in the Pyramus- Thisbe play and A Midsummer Night`s Dream, For example;
Bad Play and Playwrights: The script of the Pyramus- Thisbe play is ridiculously brief, it is ad hoc, as if being made up on the spot, tragedy and comedy are jumbled together, but there is no development in the characters. Its verse is poor. The playwright wants to show off his classical knowledge but his script shows his ignorance of classical literature.
Bad actors: mispronounce of the words repetition of lines of the Mechanicals made them think that audience has not heard them the first time. It shows their nervousness that they try to converse with audience.
Undisciplined audience: Loud comments by the audience throughout the play interrupt the actors, this actually happens in the Elizabethan theatre. We saw that Theseus sits through most of the play but begins to walk out before it ends. The rudeness of the Athenians aristocrats was emphasized in an old black and white film of Midsummer Night`s Dream.
As we see throughout the play that there are three groups of characters in the play the aristocrats and fairies and the Mechanicals, they are mortal but fairies are not but their social ruler Duke Theseus, and King Oberon, in fact tells us how Titania is almost fell in love with Theseus, making it clear that there is social interaction between the aristocrats and the fairies. But the Mechanicals are separate group, Shakespeare used them for practical reasons, professional reasons and for comic reasons.
A Midsummer Night`s Dream has the largest framework of characterization by Shakespeare of the main play. In the play we see wisdom emerges out of the folly and mockery that prevails at every level of A Midsummer Night`s Dream. Also Like, a Romantic comedy ends with weddings dances and feasts, which represents harmony and fruitfulness. The tragic ends of the Pyramus- Thisbe play contrasts with that of A Midsummer Night`s Dream.