As a twenty-first century academic, historical authors such as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickenson, and Thoreau are praised for groundbreaking style and concepts; Historical events such as 9/11, the American Revolution, and the Holocaust are accepted as customary and influence our culture as well as writing. These influential roots of modern culture shape contemporary writing in the form of various allusions that bring meaningful connotations, contributing to a greater theme. Allusions incorporate notable anecdotes, figures, and historical events into a written piece. However, allusions vary from culture to culture and between time periods. An allusion to Tom the Tiger may be common knowledge in the town of Wheaton, but the allusion would be completely trivial to someone in Luxembourg without the background knowledge of the school mascot. Likewise, William Shakespeare’s allusions tailored towards a sixteenth century audience are often times overlooked by a modern audience despite the literary device’s development towards a greater theme. In order to fully grasp Shakespeare’s motive for his plays, twenty-first century pupils must delve into Shakespeare’s allusions. Shakespeare utilizes allusions throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream in order to bridge the gap between human and divine by epitomizing mortal successes and humanizing the divine, in the hopes of motivating individuals to reach their full potential.
The interwoven, blurred line of fantasy versus reality creates a similar wavering line between celestial beings and humanity. As Shakespeare introduces the magical flower that will create the foundation of love gone array in this drama, a subtle allusion to Queen Elizabeth is referenced. “As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts./ But I might see young Cupid’s fiery
shaft/Quenched in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon,/ And the imperial vot’ress passed on/ in maiden meditation, fancy-free” (Shakespeare II. i. 166-170). Shakespeare describes Cupid taking aim at the Queen with his flawless, divine arrow, yet the human queen is capable of thwarting the intentions of a god. This allusion brings to light the possibilities of humanity. Oberon, the king of fairies, illuminates the divine, imperial, and pure characteristics of the mortal Queen. Examining the political and social atmosphere during the time of Queen Elizabeth, the reference to their queen most likely ensued a grateful and worshiping association. The unstable monarchies preceding Queen Elizabeth resulted in chaos and fear; first a period of religious and political turmoil under Henry VIII, his wives, and conflict with the Vatican, second a bloody, tyrannical reign under Queen Mary I. Elizabeth stabilized England with a celestial capability that ensured relative peace within England. The previously unimaginable peace that Queen Elizabeth ensured, stimulated a sense of divine perfection onto her aura as she provided a prosperity that reflected a utopia under divine rule....