• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Midsummer Night's Dream is an exploration of thematic opposites such as day/night, love/freedom and so on. What potential is there in this to examine the darker undertones of the comedy?

Extracts from this document...


A Midsummer Night's Dream is an exploration of thematic opposites such as day/night, love/freedom and so on. What potential is there in this to examine the darker undertones of the comedy? Refer to imagery, language, character and plot as well as a range of productions and critics. Although there is a sinister, tragic potential it is important to remember that Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream as a comedy. If the darker themes gain emphasis, a production could be a successful black comedy. 1 A good example of this is the stage design of Michael Pavelka. Reviewer, Alan Bird describes Pavelka's work: 'Empty white chairs are suspended around the stage creating a multi-layered universe. Titania and Oberon are seated on high thrones, veiled from view until they choose to intervene, instantly telling you that it is they who ultimately govern the proceedings' The symbolism of this blurs what is real or not real, natural or supernatural. This consequently blurs the thematic opposites of the forest and Athens. Alan Bird observes that Oberon and Titania 'ultimately govern the proceedings'. Theseus and Hippolyta are the most evident figures of authority, but their influence in the forest is minimal. Oberon and Titania are the most powerful characters and often Oberon (also Puck) abuses their power for 'their own' amusement (more realistically for ours). The most obvious example of this is Oberon manipulating Titania through 'magic' to "hand over the changeling boy". Oberon and Titania rule the forest, which has many parallels, as well as contrasts to the city. ...read more.


His head could be utterly grotesque and the idea that bottom has been 'transformed' could re-interpret to give the impression he has been 'mutated', which has a darker connotation. "O monstrous. O strange. We are haunted; Pray masters, fly, masters, help" Puck's character has been interpreted very differently. A 'puck' is a changeling so his character is totally versatile, and has lots of dark potential. We do not really know what Puck is supposed to be, however the word 'puck' is another name for a demon. In some seventeenth century ballads, Puck is the son of Oberon and a mortal woman (which in the context of A Midsummer Night's Dream highlights the promiscuity of the fairy folk). He has had many different images on stage. "When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a filly foal; And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, In very likeness of a roasted crab" Pucks character could raise issues regarding Satan and hell. He is a supernatural anarchist. Langland once called Hell "Pouk's Pinfold". Puck has actually appeared in a 'dark fantasy [comic] series, The Sandman' in which 'he and the other real faeries are invited to attend the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. With a hedgehog-like appearance', 'this Puck has some of the darker elements of the legend'. In Act Two, the fairies sing Titania to sleep with a mystical charm, warding off dangerous creatures. One of the creatures mentioned is "Philomel", a nightingale whose story from mythology involves mutilation, cannibalism and rape (also, the changeling boys mother, a "votaress of [Titania's] order was evidently celibate and forced upon by a warlord). ...read more.


'A Midsummer Nights Dream' is a play about the theatre and the way in which 'illusions' and 'visions' are cast before audience's eyes. In Puck's epilogue he says, "If we shadows hath offended" suggesting the whole cast are 'shadows'. Oberon may well be a metaphor of Shakespeare himself. He wrote the play and hence 'ultimately governs the proceedings' like Pavelka suggested about Oberon. The mechanicals are a parallel within the play to actors (who are the autocrats to the audience). Shakespeare's subversive ability in 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' is immense, he has raised issues of love and reason, law and anarchy, fantasy and reality, rich and poor, the role of men and women and so on. This is what made Shakespeare stand out compared to previous playwrights. Audiences recognise character traits on stage that they themselves have. Audience members may even realise later that they were laughing at characters not dissimilar from themselves. Footnotes 1. In modern adaptations, the staging often uses symbols and motifs to extract the darker undertones. 2. Many modern productions depict the people of the woods as overly erotic as well as both savage and intimidating. 3. One present-day production had the cast wearing latex, giving the play a bondage theme 4. Also as in original Greek. Idios - common people 5. Similarly, Sigmund Freud said: "You are always insane when you are in love." 6. Carol Ann Duffy has quite an appropriate description of love in one of her poems, 'onion' in which an onion is an extended metaphor for love. 'Here. It will blind you with tears Like a lover. It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level A Midsummer Night's Dream section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level A Midsummer Night's Dream essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Consider the presentation of the supernatural in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". In what way ...

    4 star(s)

    But Puck enjoys the chaos "this their jangling I esteem a sport" The magic also resolves the play's tensions by restoring harmony between Titania and Oberon which leads to the reconciliation among the four lovers. The human imagination is not restricted or controlled by social order Shakespeare wanted to show

  2. Why is Bottom such a well-loved character? Explain with reference to 'A Midsummer Nights ...

    When she wakes she says sleepily "My Oberon! What visions have I seem! Methought I was enamoured of an ass." When Oberon tells her "There lies your love," Titania is disgusted, "O, how my eyes do loathe his visage now!"

  1. 'Discuss the comedy in a Midsummer night'sdream'.

    He creates all the slapstick comedy within the play proving him an important character. The farce of the lover's situation and the characterization of the four characters create extreme humour. Their pattern of actions, normal to comedies of intrigue, has eccentric twists caused by Puck's mistakes.

  2. How does Shakespeare use confusion as a theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

    its a happy ending, and as long as everyone is happy the audience is happy. But Demetrius does not really love Helena truly, as he is under the influence of the love flower, and it isn't his personal choice to marry Helena under his own will.

  1. The Nature of Power in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.

    Shakespeare provides Bottom with plenty of references to asses in order to make the situation more farcical, "You see an ass-head of your own, do you?". Under the influence of the power of the flower, Titania wakes and instantly falls in love with Bottom.

  2. In a production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', how would you highlight the difference ...

    The language they use shows this. Bottom uses simple, rambling prose: "That same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman in your house.

  1. In A Midsummer Nights Dream, all of the action is set in the setting ...

    phrases such as "Demetrius loves your fair," showing that she is envious of both Helena's beauty and Demetrius' love for her, and "O happy fair!" - the placement of the two words next to each other in this explosive statement, highlighted by the use of the exclamation mark, shows that in Helena's mind, happiness is linked to beauty.

  2. Compare and contrast the writers presentation of love and hate in The End of ...

    This character, too, accuses her rivals of stealing her love: ""She's not little, no minion like me!/That's why she ensnared him". Interestingly, both Egeus and The Laboratory's main character speak of their loved ones as if they are possessions that are being taken away from them.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work