Themes Of Shakespeare
’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Essay, Research Paper
The themes presented by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night s Dream are tied together perfectly, thus exposing the real life problems of the relations between human beings. A main literary theme in this play is the complications and deceptions of true love. Shakespeare shows the reader, through his characters and plot, that love is relatively non-existent unless both lovers involved have mutual understanding. He displays how people only see what they want to see in their lover, ignoring the realistic and negative aspects. Through his characters, plot, and symbolic creations in the play, Shakespeare has created a clear yet complex theme.
In the first trace of events relating to the theme, two of the four lovers (Lysander and Hermia) are unable to arrange their marriage, because of the Athenian law which denies them of approval without their fathers consent. The problems encountered here signify the notion that true love is full of obstacles and complications. Thus, Lysander speaks to Hermia : The course of true love never did run smooth (I, 1, 136.)
The theme is further developed to portray that love has blindness, and that individuals only see what they wish to see in whom they love. This is evident when Helena pursues Demetrius, because she is in love with him. Demetrius, however, does not love her, because he loves Hermia. Helena says: Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind (I, 1, 240.)
This statement encloses the idea that love is blind, and people in love are ignorant of the negative aspects in their relationships.
The theme expands greatly when Helena s statement in Act 1 is symbolically displayed. The fairy king, Oberon, and his henchman, Robin, enchant the lovers. As a result of their enchantment, Demetrius and Lysander fall in love with Helena, whom they both did not love initially. This relates to the idea of love being a one-sense emotion. Despite the fact that they previously disliked her, Demetrius and Lysander choose to love Helena regardless of their hostility towards here earlier in the play.
DEMETRIUS : O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?
Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! (III, 2, 140-143)
Another theme pointed out by Shakespeare is that men and women are generally uncertain and easily influenced in making decisions regarding their life and relationships. Robin comments on the foolishness and vulnerability of the mortals: Lord, what fools these mortals be. (III, 2, 117)
Through magic, Robin is easily able to fool and at times manipulate human beings. Their weakness to Robin symbolizes their uncertainty about themselves, especially when they are in love.
In an attempt to fix a conflict between the four lovers, Oberon orders Robin to use magic and resolve the misunderstandings which Robin created; Oberon also ordered Robin to carry out his original intent to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena. Oberon speaks to Robin about the four lovers: When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision (III, 2, 392)
This statement made by Oberon suggests that love itself is at times empty and easily changed or redirected.
To conclude the development of the theme, all of the lovers get married to the right person. Helena marries Demetrius, who she pursued and loved in the beginning of the play, before any enchantment took place. Lysander marries Hermia, who both loved each other before any enchantment. By making the plot end decorously, Shakespeare shows that love ends happily if the ones in love are sincere, and genuinely in love. Although it did not run smooth , eventually true mutual love was achieved. Theseus notices the merriment in the lovers. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth. (V, 1, 29)
William Shakespeare s intricate plot and characters provoke the reader s interest in understanding the theme. His effective style in A Midsummer Night s Dream displays the theme in a number of different aspects. It is not only evident in the course of events, but also in a symbolical manner.