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A Midsummer Night?s Dream was written in 16th century England. In 1595, life

was as you can imagine very different. During this period Queen Elizabeth I was

at the throne. England was a Christian country and people greatly honoured the

queen. Shakespeare was Elizabeth I?s poet laureate, so his work was highly

valued across England. Women were treated as second-class citizens. In lower

class families, girls were not usually educated. They were expected to do

domestic jobs and look after children. In the upper class homes things were

different. Girls were educated but they did not have free opinion. Women did not

have any rights; they had no choice in what they did with their lives or whom

they married. The father of the girl would choose a suitor for her (usually

being the wealthiest man available) and she was expected to marry him. In

theatre, men would play the part of women. The Elizabethans strongly believed in

the supernatural. Few aspects of sixteenth century life were not affected by the

belief of witchcraft. Fairies and sorcerers as being real. Magic was not as we

see it today; things that young children believe, but as compelling and real.

Their beliefs in god were very much related to those of witches and demons. If

you had sinned, people believed you had the devil in you. In a Midsummer

Night?s Dream, different plots are linked to form a comical play based around

magic and love. The play is set in an enchanting forest amongst the cowslips;

hidden deep in the wood is the fairy kingdom. I personally think that

Shakespeare was very clever in how he devised ?A Midsummer Night?s Dream,?

as he has three very good elements of entertainment; love, magic and comedy

represented with different stories and characters. The Lovers represent the

effects and powers of love. Hermia is prepared to give her life up for the man

she loves. In a way, Shakespeare has adopted a modern view of things, as

Hermia?s character is not one of a ?typical? Elizabethan woman. She is a

fiery young lady, determined to be with the man she loves. Lysander and Hermia

have a good, strong relationship. Helena dotes upon Demetrius, but her

?love? is not real love, like Hermia?s, it is more of an infatuated love.

This contrast of being in real love and being blinded by love, very much makes

you think and if you were in a relationship you would think twice about your

feelings after watching the play. The Workmen are all very simple characters,

named according to their personality. They have been implanted in the play to

add humour and some lighthearted entertainment from the more serious issues

within the play. Bottom, in particular, is used to cause fun and drama. The

fairies make the play magical and exciting; Puck is a mischievous, cunning young

fairy that likes to play tricks on mortals. Some of his speeches contain

repetition for example: 396 Puck: ?Up and down, up and down, I will lead them

up and down. I am fear?d in field and town; Goblin, lead them up and

down?? Repetition has made this speech into a song/chant; this makes the

speech ?magical? and ?fun?. The use of repletion and rhyme by Puck at

the end of this scene is used to create a poetic country atmosphere. In which

the natural world is described well. The fairy scenes are very entertaining. The

language is in the way, Titania?s ironical words to bottom. 144 Titania:

?Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.? It is ironic that Titania is

saying this, because Bottom is clearly nothing close to beautiful. There is

sense of suspense present in Act 3, Scene 1. Titania is asleep on the stage, the

person she first sets her eyes upon when she awakens will be the one she falls

in love with. On the stage are the workmen. This suspense makes the play

exciting. The lovers are very much more involved in the dramatic side of the

production, with their arguments, Shakespeare uses alliteration to create a

dreamy, romantic, magical atmosphere. For instance: 435 Hermia: ?And sleep,

that sometimes shuts up sorrow?s eye, Steal me awhile from mine own company?

The use of alliteration emphasises what Hermia is talking about, making her

words more memorable. The plot is very clever, although it relies on

coincidence. The fairies? costumes would have been spectacular and dazzling.

The workmen would be dressed in rags and the lovers and court in very smart,

rich garments. The play begins as a tragedy and becomes comical. Act 3, Scene 2

begins to be comical in which the lovers are talking in rhyming couplets. These

are used to make the scene romantic and comical. Helena thinks that she is being

made a fool of, as both, Lysander and Demetrius appear to be madly in love with

her. Here is an example of this. 169 Lysander: Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will

none: If e?er lov?d her, all that is gone. My heart to her but as but as

guest wise sojourn?d, And now to Helen is it home return?d. The scene

becomes very dramatic when the lovers are quarrelling. We notice that the comedy

has gone, and become a serious quarrel when the rhyming couplets no longer

appear. There are many lessons to be learned from A Midsummer Night?s Dream.

Lysander says a line that implies that love can never be perfect. 134 Lysander:

The course of true love never did run smooth; I believe this is very true, as

there are so many problems in love. It also teaches us that ?true love? is

important and you should not try to meddle with it. Similes have been used in

Act 5, Scene 1 to comment on the play within the play. 122 Hippolyta: Played on

his prologue like a child on a recorder 124 Theseus: His speech was like a

tangled chain. Similes are often used to describe performances. Hippolyta is

comparing Quinces? prologue to a child, meaning it was not professional, as

the actors thought it was. Theseus comments on Quinces? speaking skills,

previously Quince has said the prologue completely wrong. I think the Duke is

enjoying the play within the play, as he has always seen ?professional,

serious performances. This is a unique experience for them, less drama and more

comedy. I have concluded that the play was amusing and interesting. My favourite

speech of the play was Pucks epilogue, it has rhythmic feel to it, and this

makes it the perfect ending for the play. The fact that I had previously read

the play in Year 8 familiarized me with characters. When I studied the play this

time, we concentrated on different aspects of it and took more of an interest in

the language techniques. I am very glad that I read this work of Shakespeare

again, as I do not think I have really appreciated his works up until now. An

understanding of how life was like in the 16th centaury is quite vital to

identify with the play. I am happy that our chosen Shakespeare piece was A

Midsummer Nights Dream, as it is very entertaining.

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