Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Midsummer's Night Dream - Love, Identity, and Setting?

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In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, there were several noticeable themes that would be interesting to research. In the online group forum of Slack, Gaylie Bowles and I discussed several themes that kept popping up throughout the text. These themes included love, gender roles, and the setting of the play.

Love was a major theme we noticed, and that would be interesting to research for its varying appearances and qualities throughout the play. There is natural love and supernatural love at play, but sometimes they coincide and make those watching or reading believe that they are one and the same. Oberon procures a love potion, a paste to be put on the eyelids of a person, so that the first thing they see when they awake, they grow attached to. He does this as a joke and stab at Tatiana, who refused his love, to get back at her. Upon awaking, she fell in love with a man with the head of a donkey. This alludes to a natural like love caused by supernatural circumstances, which would be interesting to explore through scholarly articles.

Also interesting is how gender is portrayed in this play, and how gender roles are perceived. A line that stood out to me was “And though she be but little, she is fierce” (3.2.342). This line I think perfectly accentuates how gender is portrayed – women are strong and have power, though they are not perceived as such. Hermia and Tatiana exude power and authority, though others would deny it (the men). These strong themes of feminism would be cool to explore throughout a few of Shakespeare’s plays, because, in this play at least, the women are not degraded once out of the city. Out in the wild, they have great power and are equals to the men, which would an interesting thread to explore in other plays.

Setting also played a major role, and it would be neat to view different performances of this play to see how the setting interacts with the themes and characters as much as I believe it does, based on what happens in the play. Much of the drama is caused by marking the wrong Athenian for the love potion, therefore causing a spiral of unhappiness and misery. The Athenians wore their clothes boldly, and though they were sneaking off to get married where they could live freely together, Lysander and Hermia had no other thought than keeping their connection to their identity. It would be interesting to see how identity interacts with the other themes that we found while reading, and then to place their identities within the context of the setting.


  1. I agree Rachel, love was a huge theme in the play, and while I didn't categorize it as natural and supernatural, that would be a very interesting way to look closer at the play. Would you also include the love demonstrated between Theseus and "Hippo" who symbolize authority but also order? What does it mean that as symbols of order their love is of the natural sort, never affected by supernatural elements(love potion or otherwise)?

  2. Rachel, I love where you're going with the difference between natural love and supernatural love. Your line, "There is natural love and supernatural love at play, but sometimes they coincide and make those watching or reading believe that they are one and the same," really hooked me. Would you address the love felt by Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius? Is that kind of love purely natural, or purely supernatural, or affected by both?

  3. Love is valid as a theme to look at but quite general. Same with the supernatural angle. I'd like to see you talk about the themes in terms of the formal elements that give life to the drama.