A Midsummer Nights Dream Shakespeare’s treatment of illusion and reality

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A Midsummer Nights Dream Shakespeare’s treatment of illusion and reality in the play

A Midsummer Nights Dream is a comedy written by William Shakespeare, it is a play about lovers and includes madness, mayhem, magic and illusion. The title tells us of the inevitable confusion to come, as in Elizabethan times ‘A Midsummer Night’ was a festival linked with mayhem and chaos, and the fact it is a ‘dream’ conjures up ideas of illusion and fantasy.

The play has two settings, Athens which represents reality, order and daylight and the woods, the world of the fairies, which symbolize illusion, magic, and a place of darkness.

There are three main groups of characters the courtiers, the workmen and the fairies whose actions form
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‘This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child’. This speech introduces the idea that people’s feelings can be induced by magic, poetry and moonlight so they cannot tell the difference between illusion and reality.

The young lovers decide to elope and arrange to meet each other in the woods. Hermia confides in her childhood friend, Helena of her and
Lysander’s intentions.

Helena is envious of Demetrius’s feelings for Hermia, and even though
Hermia tries to put Helena’s mind at rest that she has no feelings for
Demetrius, she is still jealous.

Helena’s soliloquy of unrequited love, is an important scene in the play as she speaks of ‘Things base and vile, holding no quantity’,
‘Love can transpose to form and dignity’. She is explaining how the power of love, can transform what we would normally consider as undesirable into something quite beautiful. She decides to tell
Demetrius of Hermia and Lysander’s plan in the hope that he will once again see her as he once did.

This is where the mayhem begins as the lovers enter the woods, the world of the fairies. Most of the scenes are set in the night, and the darkness is an essential element. It is the time when most humans are sleeping, and magical beings are awakening. We
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