The Role Of The Forest In Midsummer Night's Dream And As You Like It

1396 words - 6 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.

Imagination plays a key role in Midsummer Night's Dream. 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). Nearing the end of the play Theseus and Hippolyta discuss what the four lovers experienced. 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). 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).

Another important aspect of the play is escaping reality. Hermia is threatened with marrying the man she doesn't love, Demetrius, becoming a nun, or execution. She and Lysander, the man she loves, discuss what they should do and decide to go to Lysander's Aunts. Lysander tells Hermia, "There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee." And to that place the sharp Athenian law cannot pursue us." "If thou lovest me then, steal forth thy father's house tomorrow night." "And in the wood, a league without the town---" (1.1.163-167). Meanwhile Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, are arguing over possession of a Indian boy. Titania will not give up the boy, in response Oberon has Puck find a magical flower, its nectar makes the person fall in love with the first thing they see. While waiting for Puck, Oberon watches Helena and Demetrius, sympathizing with Helena he has Puck use the nectar on Demetrius. Oberon anoints Titania's eyes, "What thou seest when thou dost wake, do it for thy true love take. Love and languish for his sake. Wake when some vile thing is near" (2.2.33-35, 40). Puck finds Lysander, who he mistakes as Demetrius and anoints his eyes. Lysander sees Helena and says to her, "And run through fire I will...

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