Read the Mid Summers Night Dream and write as essay of approximately 5 pages answering the following questions.
1. What determines whether A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems comic or tragic? Some scenes could be read as simultaneously serious or funny. Pyramus and Thisby is a tragedy that becomes comedic
when performed by the bumbling craftsmen. It could be said that the comedy in the rest of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has tragic underpinnings as well, since the “happy” elements of the
play—marriage, love, passion, youth, celebration—are underpinned with dark images. Analyze this intermixing of comedy and tragedy in the play. Which characters experience the play as tragedy, and which as comedy, and why?
2. Examine the role of theatricality and performance, the sense that nearly everything is “staged” in this play. Who is in the audience and who is performing? Are those roles stable, or do they shift?
To what extent do the metaphorical “actors” and “audience” in the play adhere to the rules of the theater? Can an audience member leap onto the stage? Or can a performer transform into his or
her character? What forms of power does it bring to be on stage, and what kinds of power does
the audience hold?
3. Analyze the theme of transformation or “translation,” the conversion of one thing into another or one person into another. What does the play say about the possibility, the promise, or the threat of
real change? How does transformation occur? Can a person change his or her class, gender, family, or position in the world? Can literature (poetry and theater) can enact transformation?
Does the play-within-a-play or A Midsummer Night’s Dream itself transform its audience, its actors,
or its creator?
4. Examine the tension between marriage and virginity in the play. What kind of power does the moon, Diana, and her followers represent? How does the power of single/virginal women evolve over the course of the play? Given that the play ends in marriage for all the main female characters, is there any role for the power of the “virgin warrior”?
5. Analyze the quest for independence or freedom from parents in the play. The lovers escape to the woods, seemingly to escape the laws of Athens and the control of parents. In the youthful liberation and confusion of the woods, to what extent to the lovers achieve independence? Do they desire full freedom, or long for the guidance of parents and government? How do parent figures and their absence play into the key relationships between lovers? To what extent do
characters give consent for their transformations? What changes to the idea of freedom, control, and consent happen over the course of the play, and why?
6. This play seems to be largely about lovers, but same-sex relationships–through friendships like that of Hermia and Helena, or through same-sex groups like the mechanicals or the Amazons–
figure prominently as well. What role do same-sex groups play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? How do they relate to the love matches? Are friendships or other social relationships as important
to the plot as love? What do friendships offer in the characters’ lives? Why does marriage dominate the end of the play?