Importance of Magic in a Midsummer Night's Dream

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Oliver Newland

Task: Discuss the importance of magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream


English Coursework

Magic is probably the main theme in A Midsummer Nights Dream. It plays a

vital and extensive role in each story – line. Each time Shakespeare uses magic, there is an important – if subtle – consequence. Shakespeare explores many aspects

of magic, including how it causes problems and how it solves them. Magic is

often used by Shakespeare to support and implement the comedic sections

of the play.

Before I explore the importance of magic in the play, I must explore magic itself,

as it means different things to different people and to different cultures. Magic is

defined in the dictionary as “Any art that invokes supernatural powers”. However,

to other people and the majority of religions, magic is an evil force within the world, practiced by sinners and wrong – doers. This seems

to be the main view of the society Shakespeare lived in. However, nowadays

magic is generally not believed in. This seems to be Shakespeare’s point of view;

this can be seen by his use of magic to create a comedic and mischievous - though certainly not evil- atmosphere throughout the play. In this way, Shakespeare

could be seen as a writer ahead of his time.

The effects of magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream may have been influenced

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by the social attitude of the Elizabethan era. During Elizabethan times magic – unlike today – was widely believed in. It was considered a crime to practise magic and

was an offence punishable by law. People (usually single women) were executed if they were suspected of committing this “crime”.  I think that this may have

influenced Shakespeare to make magic have such a dramatic and often catastrophic effect. An example of the disastrous effects of magic is when Robin Goodfellow pours the love potion in the wrong man’s eye, causing him to fall in love with

another ...

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