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What makes "A Midsummer Night's Dream" an Elizabethan comedy?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

What makes "A Midsummer Night's Dream" an Elizabethan comedy? William Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 1595. The play written right before "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was "Romeo and Juliet", which also emphasized on romantic love and the complications it can cause. However, while "Romeo and Juliet" was written as a tragedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" develops to become a romantic comedy. The first scene presents evidence of a tragic story rather than a comedy. Hermia, in love with Lysander, is refusing to marry the man of her father's choice, Demetrius. Egeus, father of Hermia, is enraged by such disposition. "As she is mine, I may dispose of her : Which shall be either to this gentleman, Or to her death, according to our law." Egeus wants the law of Athens to be put into function; he wants Hermia to be put to death rather than marry against his wishes. This opening is effective in marking the play as an Elizabethan comedy. There has been order in the beginning with Theseus and Hippolyta talking of their marriage, but this is slowly beginning to tilt towards disorder and unhappiness. Owing to Egeus's anger and orthodoxy, the lovers elope into the woods, bringing us into the second phase of the play, the initiation of chaos. Hermia fleeing to the forest with Lysander has Helena feeling yet more subdued about Demetrius' hatred for her. Helena marks the beginning of turmoil. "I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight." To gain the love of Demetrius, Helena betrays her friend's trust. This betrayal is a signal to the audience that the circumstances as well as the atmosphere of the play are about to change. The pairs of lovers are not neatly matched up and this is effective in preparing the audience for the dilemma that could occur between them any moment. The approaching mayhem is also made clear with the prospect of the woods, far from the centre of civilisation in Athens.

Middle

"No in truth, sir, he should not. 'Deceiving me' is Thisby's cue." Upon the viewers' commentary on the play, the actors come out of character to explain the progress they are making and the reasons for it; a tragic romance is transfigured into a satirical comedy. This emphasizes the ignorance of the working men about the theatrical world. This also affluently ends "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the humour that was not present when it began. The principal workman and comedian of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is Nick Bottom, the weaver. His name alone begins the play's descent as a comedy. "Bottom" suits well with his future transformation where he gets the head of an 'ass', which is a synonym of 'bottom'. Secondly, his acting abilities create the romantic humour of this Elizabethan comedy. "Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet, - " Bottom believes that he is a great actor and his portrayal as the passionate Pyramus is what will make "Pyramus and Thisby" a hit with the viewers. This comic nature effectually increases the humour of the play because a good actor is just what Bottom is not. In spite of that, Bottom considers his acting to be remarkable, so remarkable that he thinks he can play all the characters of "Pyramus and Thisby". "...I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any nightingale." Bottom feels that he is fully capable of playing the role of a gentle, charming Thisby, and even that of a monstrously horrifying lion. This characteristic of his is very effective in generating hilarity as he very naively presumes that he alone can handle the production of "Pyramus and Thisby". Contrarily, his performance as Pyramus alone is rather alarming. "Now die, die, die, die, die." Bottom tries exceedingly hard to convince the audience of Pyramus' death. The word "die" is repeated four times, implying how incessantly Bottom tries to assure the onlookers that he is unquestionably dead.

Conclusion

When the play's focus returns to the centre of civilisation in Athens, there is harmony, peace and the order of matrimony for all couples. Marriage itself is one of the chief traits of an Elizabethan comedy. During the Elizabethan era, comedies customarily followed the pattern of order and peace at the beginning, followed by extreme chaos, and ending in harmony with a marriage to mark the return of order. It can hence be concluded that "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a thoroughgoing Elizabethan comedy. Yet, throughout the play, the lovers and their love is made fun of. "Cupid is a knavish lad," All the love and its intricacies, the anxiety, loss, sorrow, bereavement and broken hearts are the exquisite ingredients of a first-rate tragedy. Nonetheless, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is intentionally developed as a romantic comedy, with the disruptive elements to mark its midst. The viewers can efficiently see all the arcane aspects of love and devotion, and at the same time, enjoy the humour of romance. The ending of the play is greatly suited to finish off the confusion and misunderstandings of the past. In the epilogue, the actor playing the role of Puck steps out of character to accost the viewers. "That you have but slumbered here... No more yielding but a dream," The audience is addressed with an apology for any unsatisfactory or offending presentations. This helps in ending the show on a merry and cordial note. The mention of a dream creates the perfect theme for the epilogue; it relates back to the situations of the four lovers where complexities and discords were passed off as a dream. In my opinion, William Shakespeare has been tremendously successful in portraying this play as Elizabethan comedy. I liked the structure of order at the beginning, followed by despair and disorder and an ending with marriage to restore happiness for all. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is by far the best play of William Shakespeare that I have read. I have loved the storyline and the humour as well the legendary characters.

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