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Comparing A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet

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Although many Shakespearean plays are very similar to one another, two stand out from the rest as sharing a great deal in common. Specific, solid parallels can be drawn between Shakespeare's plays "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Romeo and Juliet." The themes and characters are remarkably similar in many aspects. Firstly, both plays highlight the stereotypical young lovers - Hermia and Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Romeo and Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet." Secondly, both plays are very ambiguously categorized. By this I mean that each could have been a tragedy just as easily as a drama (with a few minor modifications). By definition, a tragic play is a play in which the main character has a fatal flaw that leads to his or her eventual downfall. A comedy, on the other hand, is a play that contains at least one humorous character as well as a successful, happy ending where the best possible resolution is achieved. When comparing these two plays, one realizes Shakespeare's repetition of character types as well as the versatility of his themes.

In "Romeo and Juliet", Juliet is young, "not yet fourteen", and she is beautiful, and Romeo's reaction after he sees her is,

"O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!

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...cal-Lyrical History." Forthcoming in the 1988 _Proceedings of the Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Society, Villanova, Pennsylvania.

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Parker, Barbara. A Precious Seeing, Love and Reason in Shakeswpeare's Plays. New York University Press, New York: (c)1987

Schanzer, Ernest. "A Midsummer-Night's Dream." 26-31 in Kenneth Muir, ed. _Shakespeare: The Comedies: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice- Hall, 1965.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Cliff's Notes, Lincoln: (c)1995
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