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Free Study Guide-A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare-Free
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THEMES ANALSYSIS

The major theme of A Midsummer Night's Dream is love in its various forms. The play opens with Theseus professing his love for Hippolyta. The days when they both fought as enemies are over, and now they are under the overpowering spell of love, both eagerly awaiting their marriage. Theseus declares, "Hippolyta I wooed thee with my sword / And won thy love doing thee injuries." Now, however, Theseus and Hippolyta have conquered hatred and enmity and have surrendered themselves to the purer emotions of love and passion.

The love of Hermia and Lysander is the idealistic love, born out of clear understanding, respect, and emotion. They are so deeply committed to one another that they are willing to put up a fight against anyone who opposes their love, be he an unwilling and obstinate father or a ruler of the city-state. When no one will grant them permission to marry, they take matters into their own hands, deciding to run away to a place where Athenian law cannot forbid them to marry.

Demetrius is the typical inconstant lover. He has been in love with Helena but then dotes on Hermia. Before the end of the play, and with the help of the fairies, he abandons Hermia and again loves Helena. In contrast to him, Helena is the constant lover who suffers but still continues to love. In spite of desertion and the ensuing cruelties she suffers, she remains faithful to Demetrius and feels she has won a jewel of a man when he proposes to her near the end of the play.


Additionally, there is the humorous love caused by magic spells, which makes people fall in love with the most unlikely partners. Titania, the fairy queen, falls in love with Bottom, a commoner dressed in an ass's head. Lysander falls in love with Helena, the best friend of Hermia, his true love. Demetrius falls in love with Helena--again - after previously deserting her for Hermia.

In the end, all the love described in the play turns out well. Titania is released from her spell and she allows Bottom to return to Athens in time for the interlude. The other three couples are happily united in matrimony. Only the interlude, the play within a play, has an element of tragic love, but even this ends in tragic mirth and lamentable comedy, which causes merriment and laughter rather than heartbreak and tears.

In this atmosphere of overpowering love, there is not much room for the development of minor Themes. The sub-plot of the craftsmen deals somewhat with the "fall" of Bottom. Though his pride is temporarily punished, his story does not have a serious moralistic tone. Bottom is really just a light-hearted diversion, and his short fall from grace is passed off, even by him, as a strange dream. This thought leads to the other minor theme, that life is sometimes like a dream and dreams are sometimes very life-like. Throughout the play, entitled as a dream, the characters wander in and out of both real and fantasy worlds.

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Free Study Guide-A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare-Free
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