Question 1 - Metadrama in A Midsummer Night Dream.
Metadrama refers to a play featured in the plot of another play. Shakespeare presents metadrama in A Midsummer Night Dream in several ways. There is evidence of metadrama in the soliloquy by Helena at the end of the Act 1. In this instance, Helena talks about her emotions and feelings. She goes on to act out her emotions stating that it is not possible to grasp love by the eyes. She says that love can only be captured via perception. The soliloquy sets up the ground work for other such instances in the acts that follow. It is important to observe the relationship between ‘eye’ and ‘I’ in Helena’s soliloquy as a rhyme.
“Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so. He will not know what all but he do know. And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes. So I, admiring of his qualities.” (Act 1, scene 1)
Helena follows Demetrius into the forest as she sings with love and kindness. While this does not qualify as soliloquy, it falls under metadrama as the playwright wishes to share Helena’s message with the audience. Her actions are self-contradictory if one refers to her previous soliloquy. She is unable to fathom or accept that Demetrius does not love her. This should be contrasted to her earlier claims that it is not possible to grasp love by the eyes. Shakespeare develops the paradox as an important exemplification of metadrama in A Midsummer Night Dream. Helena’s character is a product of her era such that contradiction is a rarity. Discrepancy between actions and words was seen as egoism and was only accepted in fiction as opposed to the society. Like Shakespeare, many playwrights from the era did not shy away from including such metadramatic devices in their plays. Helena has the social traits of her time making it difficult for the audience to accept her actions toward Demetrius as anything other than dramatic acts. For a Renaissance woman, the audience would expect her to portray a higher level of realism.
“Then to the wood will he to-morrow night. Pursue her; and for this intelligence. If I have thanks, it is a dear expense. But herein mean I to enrich my pain.” (Act 1, scene 1)
As hinted above, the first