Reason and love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is often read as a dramatization of the incompatibility of “reason and love” (III.i. 127), yet many critics pay little attention to how Shakespeare manages to draw his audience into meditating on these notions independently (Burke 116). The play is as much about the conflict between passion and reason concerning love, as it is a warning against attempting to understand love rationally. Similarly, trying to understand the play by reason alone results in an impoverished reading of the play as a whole – it is much better suited to the kind of emotive, arbitrary understanding that is characteristic of dreams. Puck apologises directly to us, the audience, in case the play “offend[s]” us, but the primary offence we can take from it is to our rational capacity to understand the narrative, which takes place in a world of inverses and contrasts.
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A Midsummer Night's Dream: Texts and Contexts. Ed. Gail Kern Paster, and Skiles Howard. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999.
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This emotional distance gives the artist the type of perspective that Theseus likens to a madman's. It also, however, gives the artist a vantage point from which he can give the other characters' experiences meaning. Therefore, I will argue that, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare sees the artist as someone who is removed from the play's main action, but gives meaning to the play's experience (for both the audience and the other characters). I will show this by examining the roles of the two counterpart artists: Bottom (who supercedes Peter Quince as Every Mother's Son's artist), and Puck (whose art is changing people's hearts and minds). My first four paragraphs show how Shakespeare uses Puck and Bottom allegorically to represent two different components of the artistic mind.
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"_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.
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13 Nov. 2011. . Dent, Robert William. "Imagination in A Midsummer Night’s Dream." Shakespeare Quarterly 15.2 (1964): 115-19. JSTOR.
If some of the characters were able to get a hold of there passion and think things through, maybe the unfortunate deaths of Romeo and Juliet, as well as many others, could have been avoided. Passion, and the inability to control it, is one of the major reasons that the characters experience such misfortune throughout the course of this tragedy. Instead of thinking things through before they act, many of the characters such as Lord Capulet, Tybalt, Friar Lawrence, and Romeo all let the emotions overcome them and ultimately rule their decisions. Shakespeare uses the downfall of characters that abuse the privilege of emotions to warn readers about making decisions without considering the results. Lord Capulet allows his severe emotions to overcome him in rough situations and drastically alter his decisions.