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A Midsummer's Night Dream And As You Like It

2356 words - 9 pages

William Shakespeare often compares imagination and reality in his plays. He explores this comparison through the role and purpose of the forests in Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. Midsummer Night's Dream focuses on imagination and escape, while As You like It focuses on reality and self discovery.

The forest in Midsummer Night's Dream represents imagination. Puck, a fairy servant and friend of Oberon, watches six Athenian men practice a play to be performed for Theseus' wedding in the forest. Puck turns Nick Bottom's head into that of an ass. The other players see Bottom and run away screaming. He follows them saying, "Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound, a hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire, and neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn" (3.1.110-113). Puck chases the players, making them think a wild animal is chasing them. In our daily lives, people on often think in a logical and down to earth manner, but the mind wanders when a person is emotional, especially when feeling fear. Fear can cause a person mind to become unhinged. When the mind wanders, the imagination kicks in. One thing can become another--a harmless bush can become a crouching lion. Nearing the end of the play, Theseus and Hippolyta discuss how unrealistic the four lovers experience is. Theseus states, "I never may believe these antique fables, nor these fairy toys. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact" (5.1.2-3 and 5.1.7-8). Theseus does not believe in fairy tales, that what the four lovers said is not true. In his view, the lunatic, the lover, and the poet have wild imaginations. A lover's emotions can be out of control. When a person is emotional, the mind often becomes scrambled. A person has trouble speaking, their thoughts are jumbled, and actions are dictated by emotion. A lunatic's mind is unhinged and his/her imagination is free to do what it wants. The person may think they have magical powers. A poet's mind is dominated by imagination. They use imagination and creativity to create poems. At the end of the play, the fairies arrive to bless the three couples. Puck tells us, "Now it is the time of night that the graves, all gaping wide, every one lets forth his sprite in the churchway paths to glide. And we fairies, that do not run by the triple Hecate's team from the presence of the sun, following darkness like a dream, now are frolic" (5.1.396-404). Oberon and Titania sing, "So shall all the couples three ever true in loving be and the blots of Natures' hand shall not in their issue stand. Never mole, harelip, nor scar, not mark prodigious, such as are despised in nativity, shall upon their children be" (5.1.424-431). A dream is another form of imagination. The conscious mind is not in control. In dreams anything can happen, a person can become someone else or get chased by dinosaurs. Fairies are a thing of the imagination, bringing magic to our lives.
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