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The Nature of Love Explored in A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay

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“The course of true love never did run smooth,” comments Lysander of love’s complications in an exchange with Hermia (Shakespeare I.i.136). Although the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream certainly deals with the difficulty of romance, it is not considered a true love story like Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare, as he unfolds the story, intentionally distances the audience from the emotions of the characters so he can caricature the anguish and burdens endured by the lovers. Through his masterful use of figurative language, Shakespeare examines the theme of the capricious and irrational nature of love.

As the play opens, Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, his fiancée discuss their upcoming wedding. With the introduction of Theseus and Hippolyta, Shakespeare presents the backdrop for the multi-faceted love relationships which take place in the play. In an effort to celebrate the occasion with “pomp, triumph and reveling”, (Shakespeare I.i.20) Theseus instructs Philostrate, Master of the Revels, to “stir up the Athenian youth to merriments” (Shakespeare I.i.13) as well as to provide entertaining distractions for him and Hippolyta until their wedding. These simple, innocent instructions for merriment and entertainment set the stage for Shakespeare to intricately weave the young lovers, the fairies and the rustics into the story.

Introducing the main conflict, Egeus, an Athenian citizen seeking the wise counsel of Theseus, arrives. Egeus’ complaint is against his daughter, who refuses to wed Demetrius, the suitor he has chosen. Although Demetrius loves Hermia, she has given her heart to Lysander and therefore refuses to obey her father and Athenian law. Interestingly, Demetrius not too long ago professed his love for Helena,...


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...ss of love. The audience must wonder if Demetrius will have another change of heart or if he has truly matured.
Thomas Marc Parrott asserts of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “It is his use of language, as in so much else in this play, that Shakespeare shows himself the master” (Kehler 22). Through Shakespeare’s intricate weaving of figurative language throughout the play, he leads the audience on an imaginative, melodramatic, and enchanting parody of exploration into the complexities of love. As Parrott contends, Shakespeare’s true expertise lies in his artful handling of the complexities and subtleties of both the written and spoken word.


Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition, 2nd ed. Eds. Greenblatt, Stephen et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2009. Print.


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