In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare makes heavy use of hyperbole, the twisting of reality into something greater than what it actually is, in both the dialogue and the ridiculous, larger-than-life nature of the situations that occur to provide a basis for the conflict between reality and illusion, blurring the line that separates the two concepts.
Before the symbolism of the woods and the land of fairies, the main sources of the conflict between reality and unreality, is intact, there are small hints slowly leading to that direction in the opening scene of Act I, scene i. When Egeus approaches Theseus to aid him with his daughter’s infatuation with Lysander instead of Demetrius, he claims that Lysander has “bewitch'd the bosom of my child” (Shakespeare I.i.28) and “stolen the impression of her fantasy,” (Shakespeare I.i.33) and in essence complains that Lysander has stolen Hermia’s rationality and sense of reality.
As patently ridiculous and impossible as the claim is, it provides a steady basis for the blurring of the distinction between the real and surreal: a man convinced of his daughter’s lack of a grip on reality complains in a hyperbolic manner that another man has stolen her capabilities to think clearly, by making her fall in love with him and his “feigning voice.” (Shakespeare I.i.32) Most audiences, after reading or watching the play would know very well that Lysander is not capable of doing such things, and his actions afterward prove that he is just an innocent young man trying to pursue his true love. However, the rather grotesque and unrealistic picture painted of him during this hyperbolic scene becomes much less otherworldly when compared to some of the things later on in the play, which exploit the small flaw in perspective that this creates.
The fairy world and the interactions of the fairies within are the most striking example of the theme of illusion, and Titania’s dispute with Oberon in Act II, scene i comes out at the forefront. During a large argument with him in a chance encounter at midnight, Titania says, “with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport./Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,/As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea/Contagious fogs; which falling in the land/Have every pelting river made so proud/That they have overborne their continents.” (Shakespeare II.i.88) However, no evidence that any of the natural disasters are occurring is present in the play, aside from one fairy stating "Over hill, over dale,/Thorough bush, thorough brier,/Over park, over pale,/Thorough flood, thorough fire,/I do wander everywhere..." (Shakespeare II.i.2) No clear evidence exists for either side in the rest of the play. Either Titania could be speaking in an extended metaphor, which would be the so-called realistic interpretation, or they really are making these natural disasters occur, which looks like the hyperbolic...