A Midsummer Night's Dream: Literary Analysis

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 “A midsummer night’s dream” is a play that has liminal spaces between worlds. In the play Shakespeare uses the technique of iambic pentameter to show the parallels between worlds. Assonance and alliteration are used to contribute the comedic factor to the play.

Iambic pentameter is one short unstressed syllable and one long stressed syllable, it is a metric line that consist of 5 metrical feet, it is a rhyme or rhythm. Shakespeare uses it to distinguish between the nobles (Hippolyta, Theseus, Hermia, Lysander etc.) in Theseus’s speech to Hippolyta he uses iambic pentameter when he says “Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword, and won thy love, doing thee injuries.”(Act I, scene I, lines 15-16) putting stress on every second word and the non-nobles or mad people, The Mechanicals do not use iambic pentameter when they speak because they are non-nobles and it is looked at in a way that they are not part of the same world as the noble born, they use prose which is speaking normally without rhythm except when they are preforming the play of Pyramus and Thisbe because when they are performing they cross the parallel into another world and become nobles, “Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue, of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew, as true as truest horse that yet would never tire,” (act III, scene I, lines 92-95). This also shows the world inside a world with the play of Pyramus and Thisbe inside “A midsummer night’s dream”.

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The most obvious liminal space is the fairy world, it is separate from all the other characters though the fairies can interact in the other world and influence it. Puck also known as robin Goodfellow is the example of this as he as he passes through and is involved in both the reality of the real world and the illusion, he moves between worlds either helping or serving or creating mischief/play tricks. “Either I mistake your shape and making quite, or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite called robin Goodfellow” (Act II, scene I, lines 32-34) this quote is said by one of the fairies describing its thought of the type of character puck is but puck also serves the fairy king Oberon “I jest to Oberon, and make him smile” whilst serving Oberon, puck is tasked to “Fetch me that flower, the herb I showed thee once; the juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid will make or man or women madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees” (act II, scene I, line 169-172) he then must enter into the other world and drop the juices into the eyes of Demetrius but he accidently does it to Lysander, this could be seen as one of his tricks and shows his mischievous side.

The concept of time is also liminal, it is stated in the first act by Theseus “our nuptial hour draws on apace; four happy days bring in another moon” (act I, scene I, line 1-3) stating that the play is over the span of four days when in reality it is set over one night, the longest night of the year it’s the change in the seasonal calendar. It is said that over nights like these anything is possible, and things do get very topsy-turvy such as bottoms head being changed to a donkey’s head and then the fairy queen falls in love with him “what angel wakes me from my flowery bed?” (act III, scene I, line 107). The fact that is all over one night but is said to be four days is a very conflicting factor but is used well in the play for the fairy’s state that it was all but a dream.

Marriage is also an area of liminality it looks at the waiting for marriage over the four days for Theseus and Hippolyta and how Hippolyta is from a different world to Theseus as she was once queen of the amazons and because Theseus won the war between them she was won like a prize and is new to his world. There’s the feature of the star cross lovers Hermia and Lysander that are not allowed to be married as Hermia is betrothed to Demetrius but there’s is also the factor of Helena loving Demetrius, so there is a lot of conflict and confusion in that.

In “A midsummer night’s dream”, it is clear there is both illusion and reality and the quote by bell Shakespeare, 2016 is correct in its statement that “theatres are the ultimate liminal spaces, neither reality nor pure illusion             


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