A Midsummer Night's Dream: Love In All Its Variations

1608 words - 6 pages

There is a diversity of ways in which one may perhaps view or even undertake love. Often, it is explored as one of the most serious experiences of life; however, it may also be treated as a sort of madness. William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy that presents love in all its variations whilst embarking upon an evident comic element which illuminates pain and human imperfection while enabling the audience to remain enthralled. Three stories, each representing different aspects of love, are intertwined to develop a comic vision of reality and the "profound struggle to make sense of the human condition" (Lasser 5). Shakespeare would often use this comic vision throughout his works in order to bring forth a middle ground, crossed between absurdness and seriousness. This permitted him to take such serious experiences, in such case love, and treat them as a light-hearted matter in order to "heighten rather than relieve tension" (Lasser 1). The love between Hippolyta and Theseus is more fully grown compared to the others and Shakespeare uses his comedy to show Hippolyta's power over Theseus which is quite contradictory to the Elizabethan times. Oberon and Titania, on the other hand, are portrayed with reprehensible behaviour as they battle to retrieve the power that they want. Finally, the four Athenian lovers' quarrel is found to be quite amusing as they continue to make fools of themselves after their affections have been swayed.Theseus and Hippolyta share a mature love which is won by Theseus upon his victory at war where he becomes smitten with her and surrenders the things that give him power over her - making her even more powerful than she was previously. The union of Theseus and Hippolyta is celebrated for "its depiction of ideal love" (Kehler 27) as it is shorn of any romantic nonsense. It becomes apparent that neither of these lovers is experiencing love for the first time. Theseus was previously engaged in a relationship with Titania whilst Hippolyta was in a relationship with Oberon. This brings forth a sense of maturity as, unlike the four Athenian lovers, their love is not fresh and pure. Hippolyta's love was won over by Theseus upon his successfulness at war. He "wooed her with his sword" (I,i,16). Both of these particular characters represent order as they are "removed from any dreamlike events" (Frosch 487) as they only appear in the beginning and the end of the play. In Act V, Theseus states that "[l]overs and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends" (V,i,4-6). This passage expresses his beliefs that lovers, madmen, and poets are all prone to immoderation beyond the realm of reason. It is interesting to consider that Theseus is meant to be seen as a reasonable man yet, because of this statement, Dorothea Kehler believes that he seems to have discounted his position as a lover (28). Theseus is sceptical about the stories that the four...

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