Illusion and Fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Illusion and Fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream The main theme of love in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is explored by four young lovers, who, for the sake of their passions, quit the civilized and rational city of Athens, and its laws, and venture into the forest, there to follow the desires of their hearts - or libidos as the case may be. In this wild and unknown wilderness, with the heat and emotion commonly brought on by a midsummer night, they give chase, start duels, profess their love and hatred and otherwise become completely confused and entangled in the realities and perceptions of their own emotions. What better opportunity for Shakespeare to introduce a world of fairies then this? Shakespeare's…show more content…
It is also noted that the fairies of the Dream show none of the maliciousness or harmful nature that many Elizabethan fairies were said to possess, and their association with flowers is marked as completely new (Latham 181 & 186). And to top it off Robin Goodfellow had apparently never been associated with the term Puck before 1594, Puck being a "generic term applied to a class of demons" (Latham 219). In The Anatomy of Puck however Katharine M. Briggs states that Shakespeare did not in fact make up his fairies but "drew straight from his native folklore some elements that had hardly appeared in literature before" (45). She states that the "fairy smallness [was] not new to folk-lore, but nearly new in literature" (45), and makes comparison to the Scandinavian Light Elves who were not only small in size but also took a special care of flowers (46). She also notes that the kindly nature of these fairies does not violate folk tradition for "folk-lore is full of kindly fairies" (46). This ambiguity of his fairy creatures lends to something to the illusion that Shakespeare weaves throughout the play by showing the audience something that they had never seen in fairies before and that they might wonder about, being mixed as it was by a heavy dose of the "real" fairies of folk
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