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A Midsummer Nights Dream - 'The wood is a place of real peril; it is also the wood of error' Explore the perils and errors of the wood and relate them to 'the rational daylight world of Theseus's court.'

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Introduction

Melanie Parkes 'The wood is a place of real peril; it is also the wood of error' Explore the perils and errors of the wood and relate them to 'the rational daylight world of Theseus's court.' In the wood the fairy world is in a state of disorder brought about by the King of the Fairies, Oberon, who allows his judgements to be swayed by his personal emotions, the same unreasonable emotional disorder that also sent the lovers into the woods initially. The play starts and ends in Theseus's court showing a contrast between the order in his court and the abandonment of reason and restrained emotions shown in the wood. Although the leaders seem evident targets for the mishaps occurring at the beginning of the play, an Elizabethan audience would have been ready to blame the Wives of the leaders for any misfortune occurring due to their disobedience. A modern audience maybe more inclined to feel sympathy for the Wives and also take into account, the possibility that Shakespeare himself is sympathizing too. The characters' breakdown of reason once they have entered the wood mimics a dream's disorder and errors and thus makes the wood a place of their dreams, or nightmares; as is the case for Hermia when she awakens from a nightmare to find it is true her partner has left her. As the title suggests, dreams are an important theme in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'; they are linked to the bizarre, magical mishaps in the woods. ...read more.

Middle

This is a symbol of how the woods are more corrupt and evil than their homeland of Athens, as wild beasts are an obvious peril not present in the court, clearly indicating the perils the wood possesses. As well as changes in scenery to suggest peril, we also learn from Act II of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' the spiteful and malicious tone and nature Demetrius has taken. Before entering the woods Demetrius would never have spoken to Helena in a cruel manner and indeed he takes his newfound wickedness to a new level by threatening Helena with rape: "Or if thou follow me do not believe But I shall do thee mischief in the wood" This is a clear sign as any that the wood is a place of peril not only because of the magical disorder it is causing in the minds of the lovers but also because there is no authority, law or order; aspects of strength in Theseus's court, to protect Helena from Demetrius. Furthermore, Demetrius's demonstration of viciousness occurs directly after we learn Oberon himself is planning on humiliating his wife, this suggests that Oberon's actions may be influencing the Athenians who have entered his currently perilous world, the wood. Oberon's own mischievous nature may be a contributing factor to the state of disorder when the lovers enter the fairy world. Titania's error at the beginning of the play is in defying her husband, which makes her vulnerable to disordered emotion. One of the main objectives of the spreading of love potions by Puck was Oberon's intention of gaining revenge against his rebellious wife with whom he is arguing over an Indian child: "O how I love thee! ...read more.

Conclusion

Such transformations in the thinking of the characters leads to the two best friends, Helena and Hermia, having a spiteful argument when previously this would not have occurred. The perils of animals and even Demetrius's own uncontrollable anger towards Helena also becomes inflated in the wood. Indeed, the character of Oberon's own wife alters to such an extent that she starts pursuing Bottom, an ass, something she would not have done had it not been for the happenings in the woods. However, Puck makes many mistakes in terms of who is meant to receive the potions showing how the wood is not only a place of peril but also of error. The wood is not the only cause for emotional disorder as the lovers are already in peril whilst still in the court. Theseus and Oberon are shown to not be perfect leaders. They both display faults with decision making and controlling their wives, which brings perils both in the court and in the woods at the beginning of the play as opposed to the end when harmony is achieved in both worlds. Only after Theseus and Oberon had visited each other's worlds and graced them with the leadership they represent did this harmony occur. At the end of the play the fact that Demetrius is left under the influence of the potion from the wood shows an overall combined effort of Oberon's magic and Theseus's law. In conclusion, the wood and Theseus's court can in many way be seen in similar circumstances and beneficial to each other. ...read more.

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