There are so many references to "the eyes" in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that one would expect there to be a solid and consistent reason for their appearance. However, this does not seem to be the case. Indeed, the images associated with the eyes are so varied, and shift so frequently, that it is practically impossible to define what it is they represent. This difficulty reflects the problem of distinguishing between what is real and what is illusion -- a central theme of the play.
Confusion and misunderstanding abound throughout "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The lovers' chase through the forest is perhaps the most obvious example. The "mechanicks'" bumbling performance of "Pyramus and Thisbe" is perhaps the most comic. However, as the play commences, it is a misunderstanding between Egeus and Hermia that threatens to throw the court into turmoil.
This particular misunderstanding revolves around Hermia's love for Lysander. Although Egeus has arranged for his daughter to wed Demetrius, it is Lysander that Hermia really wants to marry. However, Egeus refuses to ascent to their marriage, threatening to enforce on his daughter the "ancient privilege of Athens" (1.1.41) if she does not condescend to his original choice. Even though this would entail her entering a nunnery (or perhaps even being executed), Egeus' opinion cannot be swayed. His stubbornness leads Hermia to exclaim: "I would my father looked but with mine eyes" (1.1.56).
Clearly, Hermia believes that if her father could see Lysander in the same light as her, then he would quickly form a different opinion of him. In this instance, then, the eyes symbolize judgment. Theseus' response to Hermia not only ...
... middle of paper ...
...e, nor his heart to report what my dream was" (4.1.204-207). Here, he confuses the senses in his attempt to get a grip on reality, thus demonstrating the blurred boundary between reality and illusion.
Clearly, then, the eye alone cannot be trusted to provide adequate information about the nature of reality. The fluid, endlessly shifting imagery of the eyes serves to represent this problem, adding to the dreamlike quality of the play in the process. Possibly, it is left to the "poet's eye" (5.1.12) to make the distinction between reality and illusion: "The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen/Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing/A local habitation and a name" (5.1.15-17).
Shakespeare, William. "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. 814-861.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare Author: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written by William Shakespeare, who was born in Stratfort-upon-Avon, in 1564. After he had attended the Stratfort School, he married in November 1582 Anne Hathaway and five years later they got their first daughter. For whatever reason, he went to London and became an actor- dramatist. In the beginning of his career he was both actor and writer.... [tags: William Shakespeare Midsummer Night Dream]
1330 words (3.8 pages)
- Throughout history literature has changed into many different forms and styles, it has also stayed the same in many different ways, literary techniques and elements are key to a good piece of writing, a perfect example that shows us just this is in, A Midsummer Nights Dream, where we will further explore the different literary elements that were used most notably the plot. The plot of a story lays out the foundation and the background for the entire play to come, we'll compare and contrast this element and look at the different sub elements which are produced.... [tags: William Shakespeare Midsummer Night Dream]
1280 words (3.7 pages)
- Night in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream One of the recurring themes throughout Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the time of day during which the play’s major action takes place: night. This being the case, there are certain words that are directly linked to this theme that appear numerous times throughout the script. Four such words are “moon,” “moonlight,” “moonshine,” and “lunatic.” Each comes from a feminine root that serves to identify the women in the play as prizes to be won and controlled.... [tags: Shakespeare Midsummer Night Dream Essays]
1375 words (3.9 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream In William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there are endless images of water and the moon. Both images lend themselves to a feeling of femininity and calm. In classical mythology, the image of water is often linked with Aphrodite, goddess of passion and love. Born of the foam of the sea, Aphrodite was revered as an unfaithful wife to her husband Hephaestus (Grant 36). This may have a direct coloration to the unfaithful nature of the four lovers, Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius, while in the woods.... [tags: Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream Essays]
1585 words (4.5 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare, in his "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," uses his characters to cast a sense of derision over the use of the imagination. “The lunatic, the lover and the poet” are thrown together all on one line, and it is implied that the latter two are as crazy as the first. (Midsummer Night’s Dream, V.1.7) Despite this seeming scorn for plays and their ilk, Shakespeare is implementing a strong irony. Characters who scorn the imagination are no more than imaginings themselves – and, by this, Shakespeare is actually reinforcing a positive image of plays of the imagination.... [tags: Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream Essays]
1287 words (3.7 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream A Midsummer Night’s Dream could have easily been a light-hearted, whimsical comedy. Complete with a magic forest and a kingdom of fairies, it is an iconic setting for amorous escapades and scenes of lovers. But Shakespeare’s writing is never so shallow; through this romantic comedy, Shakespeare postulates an extremely cynical view of love. A Midsummer Night’s Dream becomes a commentary on the mystery of love, and lovers in general emerge shamed. Especially in the episodes among the four young Athenians, the lover is painted as a fickle creature, always changing his or her mind, and love as a passing phenomenon.... [tags: Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream Essays]
930 words (2.7 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream can be considered an archetypal comedy due in large part to the ill-defined characters. Part of what makes this play work so well is that rather than becoming too invested in any one character’s hopes and fears or desires and struggles, the audience is simply rooting for things to work out well in general. If the audience became too attached to any one character, they might lose sight of the bigger picture in their concern over, for example, Demetrius remaining drugged at the end of the play, or the disturbing repercussions of Helena marrying a man who only a few acts earlier she had urged to “Use me b... [tags: Shakespeare Midsummer Night Dream Essays]
966 words (2.8 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream There are so many references to "the eyes" in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that one would expect there to be a solid and consistent reason for their appearance. However, this does not seem to be the case. Indeed, the images associated with the eyes are so varied, and shift so frequently, that it is practically impossible to define what it is they represent. This difficulty reflects the problem of distinguishing between what is real and what is illusion -- a central theme of the play.... [tags: Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare Essays]
1659 words (4.7 pages)
- The Theme of Love in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare When love is in attendance it brings care, faith, affection and intimacy. This is proved true in the spectacular play A Midsummer Night's Dream written by William Shakespeare. This play displays the facts about lust, hatred, jealousy and their roles in something powerfully desirable. It is entitled love. Love is present everywhere, in every form, in every condition and even when one least expects it. True love is like a precious black pearl, it is so rare that many believe it to be a myth, but Hermia and Lysander found true love according to the following excerpt said by Lysander from A Midsummer Night... [tags: Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare]
669 words (1.9 pages)
- William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream The stage production of William Arden Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by a British director Tim Supple was one in a million-that everyone talked about it and questions rode questions, on how the performance went. ‘It is the best production I have ever seen. What grapples me most, is the cast, ravaging with a rich choreography’, this was said by the British Ambassador to India in a chat with Times of India. The almighty dramatist play was sponsored for production by the British Council, India.... [tags: William Shakespeare Midsummer Dream Essays]
537 words (1.5 pages)