Midsummer Night’s Dream
Questions and Answers
1. What does Shakespeare accomplish by setting most of the action at night and in the wood? Explain thoroughly. Use examples.
Setting most of the action at night and in the woods creates a dreamlike world. There is no other place that holds more myth than the forest. Obernon makes clear that nighttime is fairies’ time. Theseus, who is present during the daylight, represents reason.The visions of fairies and magic are all related to the nighttime forest setting. Shakespeare was interested in how dreams worked, in how the events in the play transpired, and how time seems to change and loses track. Throughout the entire play, the young lovers are overcome by the magical power of the woods. They are put into a situation that is unrealistic which leads to bizarre mishaps. Even uncanny incidents happen to the fairies of the woods. Titania is put under a love spell and falls in the love with the ass-headed Nick Bottom. Puck reminds us in the end that if the play has offended anyone, they should simply remember it as being a dream. This helps make the play an incredible occurrence, rather than an intense drama.
2. Explain how Theseus represents the voice of reason and moderation. Be specific. Use examples and quotes (include act and line numbers)
Theseus represents the voice of reason and moderation in the play because he seems to be the only normal character left. He only appears in the play during the daytime, when nothing magical occurs. He is the only character who shows complete sanity in the dreamlike fantasy world around him. He is the Duke of Athens so many people come to him with their problems. When Egeus comes to Theseus about the problem he is having with his daughter, Hermia, Theseus takes power over the situation. He explains to Hermia that if she goes against her father’s rules, by his words, she will be sentenced to death or sent to a convent. (Act 1, Scene 1, Pages 4 and 5, Lines 30-34). He states, “For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself to fit your fancies to your father’s will; Or else the law of Athens yields you up,- which by no means we may extenuate,- to death, or to a vow of single life.” Hermia is so in love that she can not make a reasonable decision, so she runs off into the imaginative woods with Lysander.