A Midsummer Night's Dream: form

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: form

Overview of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy written by William Shakespeare, often categorised as a romantic comedy.
  • The play consists of several interrelated plots which are intricately woven together. The main plot revolves around the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, and the comedic subplot of the lovelorn young Athenians.

Textual Forms and Structures

  • The play integrates verse and prose, with traditionally more elite characters speaking in verse, and more working-class characters speaking in prose. This can be used to represent social hierarchies.
  • Use of rhyming couplets and quatrains appears throughout the play offering a rhythmic charm and enhancing the comedic and fantastical elements of the story.
  • The interchanging forms within the play can be seen as a tool to phrase comedic and serious tones differently. While iambic pentameter is used for more serious dialogues, prose and rhymed verses are utilised in lighter scenes.
  • The play exhibits a tight five-act structure expected in Elizabethan drama, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.

Techniques and Devices Used by Shakespeare

  • Shakespeare often utilises soliloquies, and, in many moments of dramatic irony, directly involves the audience by letting them know more than the characters on stage.
  • Its comedic form is enhanced by the use of dramatic irony, particularly in the play-within-a-play performed by the folly of the craftsmen.
  • The blending of magical elements with reality, also referred to as the fantastical form, is one of the distinct characteristics of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It pulls together mythology, fairy-tales, and romantic narratives into one cohesive piece.
  • Adding to the form, Shakespeare uses the device of a play within a play, presented by the Mechanicals which provides a stage for additional comedy and satire in the storyline.

Classical Comedy Elements

  • Lastly, the use of song and dance, a splendid finale, and a meticulous return to order align with the structure of a classical comedy.