In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, fate is in the hands of impish fairies with childlike ambitions, whose recklessness serves a catalyst for disorder in the mortal world. This seemingly disastrous set-up is made humorous thanks to Shakespeare’s incorporation of dramatic irony, which placates the audience, and serves as a reminder that all will be well. By Act 2 Scene 1 the audience has been introduced to the puppets of fate, the mortal lovers, and the puppeteers, the fairies. Lysander and Hermia flee to the forest to escape Hermia’s arranged marriage, while closely pursued by the vengeful Demetrius and Helena. The youth’s drama is overlooked by the majestic fairy king Oberon and his mischievous puck, Robin. Certainty, fairy king Oberon’s desire to balance out the unbalanced lovers is admirable. Ironically, his good intention to bring order to the lover’s disorder results in further disorder. As the audience witnesses Puck’s love potion mix up, they know that the lovers are in for chaos, because now Demetrius and Lysander both love Helena, and Hermia is left alone. The dramatic irony foreshadows the upcoming humor. The...
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...rization distances him in speech, manner, and appearance from Titania, proving the irrationality of love and fate. More daunting to the audience than irrationality however, is that fate does not discriminate between the beautiful and the grotesque. Oberon’s desire for vengeance motivates him to intervene in both his world and the mortal’s. Thus, fate in the hands of the reckless is inescapable.
Shakespeare acknowledges that fate is a complex concept that man typically treats with reverence and caution. However, he pokes fun at that elevated concept through dramatic irony and brings it down to a level of childish play. He challenges the audience’s fears and forces one to view fate with a new meaning. Perhaps man’s destinies are in reckless hands. Regardless of fates true identity, it is still elusive. Therefore man is fate’s puppet; he is subject to the unknown.
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