Write an essay on the following passage (3.1.80-135) from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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TMA 01 – AA306

Write an essay on the following passage (3.1.80-135) from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  You should give consideration to such matters as:

  1. how the episode relates to the rest of the play (be careful not just to tell the story);
  2. the distinctive features of the language; and
  3. the performance aspects of the extract.

The focus of this discussion will be upon the language and performance possibilities of this extract from the Dream, following brief consideration of the manner in which the extract relates to the rest of the play in terms of plot development and the reflection of certain of the play’s themes.  Performance aspects are considered alongside the distinctive features of the language, as it is suggested that the nature of the language employed governs performance.  Broadly speaking, it is argued that while the language of the extract lends itself to a humorous performance on more than one level, in certain respects the humour seeks to convey a serious message and the extract’s comedy should not mask unexpected instances of sincerity.

As suggested above, this extract relates to the Dream as a whole through simple plot development and the illustration of some of the play’s recurring themes.  The extract progresses two of the play’s four principal plot lines. As it structurally occupies a central point in the play, it also represents a mid-point in the development of these plot lines. The discord, which exists between Titania and Oberon and is initially revealed in Act 2 Scene 1, is played out, as the juice, which Oberon has dropped on Titania’s eyelids causes her to wake and fall in love with Bottom. This plot proceeds to its denouement with the restoration of harmony between the fairy King and Queen in Act 4 Scene 1. The clowns, meanwhile, having met in Act 1 Scene 2 to allot parts for the play, which they are later to perform before Theseus and Hippolyta, are now in the forest rehearsing.  In both respects, the scene also serves as a humorous interlude between the wranglings of the courtiers.

Of the play’s themes reflected within this extract, it is suggested here that the most significant is the parody of the language and behaviour of the courtiers and that of the hierarchical social structures, which exist in both Athens and the fairy world.  This theme provides a broad framework, within which language and performance possibilities are discussed below. The relationship between reality and the imagination is a second theme reflected in the extract. The action takes place in the forest, which may be considered the world of the imagination in opposition to the ‘real’ world of Athens.  If sleep and waking can be argued to represent the passage between reality and imagination in the Dream, there is some irony in Titania, a resident of the imaginary world of the fairies, awaking and stepping out of her own reality into an imaginary love for Bottom.  Finally, the extract elaborates on the idea of Metatheatre, superficially through the rehearsal of a play by the clowns, more obliquely through the direction of certain characters’ actions by other characters, Bottom by Puck and Titania by Oberon.

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As previously mentioned, the distinctive features of the extract’s language are considered here alongside performance possibilities, as it is argued that the latter are inextricably linked to a specific interpretation of the former.  I would propose that the challenge for any performance is to convey the humorousness of language and character, without obscuring the serious themes, which form the subtext of the extract.  For it can be argued that the language and action operate on at least two levels. On a superficial level, the extract lends itself to a particularly humorous performance.  Emerging through the humour, however, are ideas ...

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This essay is exceptionally well written and supported with external references; however the reason it does not gain top marks is due to the amount of words wasted not really saying anything about the play in relation to the question. The most important thing in an analytical essay is the exploration of the key ideas of language, structure and form and there needs to be more of this in this response. 4 Stars