Midsummer Night’s Dream: Love Isn't All You Need Essay

2007 Words9 Pages
The love story is one of the oldest and most cherished traditions in any world culture. The prevalence of romantic works throughout history, whether Greek myths, Jane Austen’s dramatic narratives, or today’s dime-a-dozen romantic novels, ultimately encourages us to believe in the power of true love. We identify with the archetypal star-crossed lovers, who combat established convention in order to assert their romance, because we too yearn for our own “happily-ever-afters.” When used in conjunction with reason, love is the highest form of compassion – without it, we could not possibly interact productively with one another or develop as individuals. But when we take a new perspective and examine love as an independent,…show more content…
William Shakespeare masters this art throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream, building through his characters’ actions the façade of love as pure and noble, but at the same time dashing this façade by exposing weaknesses and flaws in these characters’ perceptions of love. Shakespeare does not show this irony in individual lines, but painstakingly develops it over entire scenes and acts. Eastman dubs this development “large-scale irony”: an author can create subtle irony throughout his work as a “sustained strategy of indirect attack” (Eastman 126). Throughout his play, Shakespeare uses this long-term, indirectly critical irony to sharpen his assertion that love is not benevolent, but willfully destructive. One of love’s most prominent characteristics is its ability to engulf the human mind in floods of pure emotion. In the short term, love is often associated with phrases such as hearts “skipping a beat” or “butterflies” in one’s stomach. As an act of intuition and instinct, love can have immediate physiological and psychological effects. As a result, love’s psychosomatic manifestations often lead their bewitched to direct as many efforts as possible toward winning another’s heart. With regard to this motif of physical and emotional infatuation, Shakespeare argues, being in love causes us to become inconsistent and to allow ourselves to be buffeted by the wild waves of our ever-changing desires. In the play,
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