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Emotional Critical Lens Essay

653 words - 3 pages

It was once said that, “All literature shows us the power of emotion. It is emotion, not reason, that motivates characters in literature.” Basically this means that in literary works, such as dramas and novels, whenever a character is faced with a challenge, they will automatically use pathos instead of logos to overcome that obstacle. This critical lens is valid in many literary works, such as those of William Shakespeare. His characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet often make decisions subjectively, rather than stepping back and looking at the situation objectively. In Romeo and Juliet, elements that lead to the downfall of the lead protagonists root from poor judgement, and responding to a situation emotionally. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the main emotional force is love, or the lack of it. Love is altered and enhanced in order for the lead characters to reach their goals. In both of these ...view middle of the document...

This subjectivity though is what gives a humane quality to the work, and allows the plot to move as it does. After all, do humans truly view every obstacle they are faced with objectivity?


Alike to Romeo and Juliet, the drama A Midsummer Night’s Dream also relies on pathos, in several forms, to influence the key characters. Lysander and Hermia, for example,are motivated by their “true love” to run away to Lysander’s Aunt. Oberon is also motivated, but by a different emotion. He is stimulated by lust for the Indian prince, and places Titania under a spell to get him. On another note, Bottom believes he can pull of a one-man-show of Pyramus and Thisbe, which ironically parallels Romeo and Juliet, because of his hubris. All three of these situations are fueled by the characters acting subjectively. Lysander and Hermia set off the chain of events that comprise the plot, while Oberon sets in motion a minor subplot. These emotional responses from the characters shape the plot lines and direction of the play.

Literature often reveals the humanity of its characters in their decision making processes, and how emotion is often favored over logic. This is important because it reflects reality in that humans often make rash, emotional decisions, and adds excitement to the story. The fact that characters in literature are motivated by emotion rather than logic is completely true, and can be observed in Shakespeare’s works Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The lovers in both dramas are prime examples. Romeo and Juliet show exactly how not to act when you’ve got the hots for another teenager. Their poorly planned and executed decisions resulted in their death. The lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream however are more fortunate that they all live through to the end. Their decisions based out of lust, pride, and true love as well, but they consequences aren’t nearly as great as those for the star-crossd lovers. In essence, William Shakespeare’s works are excellent testimony to how literary characters make decisions.

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