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A Midsummer's Night Dream and As You Like It

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William Shakespeare often compares imagination and reality in his plays. He explores this comparison through the role and purpose of the forests in Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. Midsummer Night's Dream focuses on imagination and escape, while As You like It focuses on reality and self discovery.

The forest in Midsummer Night's Dream represents imagination. Puck, a fairy servant and friend of Oberon, watches six Athenian men practice a play to be performed for Theseus' wedding in the forest. Puck turns Nick Bottom's head into that of an ass. The other players see Bottom and run away screaming. He follows them saying, "Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound, a hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire, and neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn" (3.1.110-113). Puck chases the players, making them think a wild animal is chasing them. In our daily lives, people on often think in a logical and down to earth manner, but the mind wanders when a person is emotional, especially when feeling fear. Fear can cause a person mind to become unhinged. When the mind wanders, the imagination kicks in. One thing can become another--a harmless bush can become a crouching lion. Nearing the end of the play, Theseus and Hippolyta discuss how unrealistic the four lovers experience is. Theseus states, "I never may believe these antique fables, nor these fairy toys. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact" (5.1.2-3 and 5.1.7-8). Theseus does not believe in fairy tales, that what the four lovers said is not true. In his view, the lunatic, the lover, and the poet have wild imaginations. A lover's emotions can be out of control. When a person is emotional,...

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... reality. Through the forest of Arden, a person has time to contemplate life. Reality is a dream dictated by imagination. As Puck put it, "If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended--that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream…" (5.1.440-445).

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night's Dream. Comp. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2009. Print.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Comp. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2009. Print.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Trans. Gayle Holste. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, 2009. Print.

Shakespeare, William. No Fear Shakeaspeare A Midsummer Night's Dream. Trans. John Crowther. New York, NY: Spark, 2003. Print.
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