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What effects and atmosphere does Shakespeare create in Act 3 scene 2 of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'? How does he achieve this?

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Introduction

What effects and atmosphere does Shakespeare create in Act 3 scene 2 of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'? How does he achieve this? 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is a comedy written by Shakespeare in the Elizabethan times, still performed in the present day. At Act 3 scene 2 we are probably at the height of confusion in the play. Each of the four lovers loves someone who does not love them. Demetrius loves Hermia, Hermia loves Lysander, Lysander loves Helena and Helena loves Demetrius. All this chaos is down to Puck, a mischievous fairy whose job is to stir up trouble to amuse the fairy King. Not only has he been distorting the lives of humans, but also the fairy Queen. She is momentarily in love with a mortal with an ass' head (also as a consequence of Puck's actions). The audience has the advantage at this point as they are all knowing, making them feel as though they are a little superior. They know that the fairies exist and all of Puck's activities. The audience is expecting that Oberon will sort out the mess after seeing the chaos that Puck's actions have caused. At the beginning of the scene we see Puck describing how he successfully 'An ass's nole fixed upon' Bottom's head and how he then fabricated the love between him and Titania. ...read more.

Middle

'Let her shine gloriously, as the Venus of the sky' is a lovely line, using a metaphor to compare Helena to a goddess, possibly the way every woman would want to be described The whole incantation rhymes making it even more enchanting and leaves the audience in awe of the fairies. It furthermore makes the audience aware of exactly how much domination the fairies have over the humans. When Demetrius awakes he is in love with Helena, as is Lysander. This makes the situation again more confusing. As soon as he arises he remarks to Helena 'O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!'. This is exceedingly overwhelming and possible a little too much from Demetrius. This line also links back to Oberon's spell, where he says that Demetrius should see his lover as a goddess. He says her lips are like 'kissing cherries' giving an image or very deep red that would have been seen as very beautiful in the time when Shakespeare wrote this play. As would her skin, described as 'pure congealed white', a sign of great elegance and loveliness. We do not hear of Lysander's compliments, only of his defense against them. He says 'in their nativity appears all truth' yet this does not sway Helena from thinking that this is a prank simply to mock her. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sentences in this scene have become very short. This makes the dialogue move a lot more rapidly than before showing the earnestness of the situation. It makes the atmosphere a little more tense and for a while there are no rhyming couplets to lighten the mood. So for this part of the play the audience are probably genuinely concerned for the characters and empathise with each and every one of them. All four of the lovers exit the scene not resolving the matter and leaving Puck and Oberon alone. Oberon is appalled once again by Puck's conduct. Puck claims he is sorry, 'I mistook' he says and declares that he is 'so far blameless'. This again flaunts his impish side enforced even more by his second statement describing the lover's chaos as 'jangling' and a 'sport'. This means it gave him great pleasure to see humans in such a predicament. At the end of the scene the audience is left feeling a mixture of emotions. Relief that all this chaos will be sorted out but also gladdened that each of the lovers will have someone who loves them back. However, the audience does not yet know whether the spells will work, whether all will be well. So there is still a sense of anticipation at the end of this scene as Puck exits leaving the stage empty for the next scene. Emma Lerway English Coursework 2003 ...read more.

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