A Midsummer Night's Dream: language

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: language

Shakespeare’s Language techniques in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Verse and Language Structure

  • Verse and Prose: The play includes both verse and prose. The nobles mainly speak in verse to highlight their elevated status, whereas the mechanicals typically speak in prose, reflecting their lower social standing.
  • Iambic Pentameter: This is a rhythmic pattern involving five pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables. It is used frequently, especially by characters of higher social standing, to mimic the natural rhythms of English speech.

Tools for Characterization

  • Dramatic Irony: Shakespeare employs this technique where the audience knows more than the character(s) on stage. This is often used for comic effect in the play.
  • Soliloquy: This is when a character speaks their thoughts aloud, often when they are alone. It gives us insight into a character’s motivations or feelings.
  • Malapropisms: This involves a character incorrectly using a word that sounds similar to another word, often with humorous results. This tactic is used frequently with the character Bottom.

Imagery and Symbolism

  • Rhyme: Rhyme is used at different points in the play. For instance, the fairies frequently speak in rhymed couplets, adding a magical, musical quality to their speech.
  • Figurative Language: Metaphors, similes and personification are regularly used. For instance, Titania describes the result of her and Oberon’s quarrel as causing chaos in the natural world, a metaphor for the couples’ romantic confusion.
  • Imagery: Shakespeare makes use of detailed imagery throughout the play, particularly when depicting the magical forest environment and the changing dynamics between characters.
  • Repetition: The repetition of words or phrases is used to emphasise certain points or themes within the play. For instance, “dream” is a frequently repeated word, reinforcing the fantastical and sometimes disorientating nature of the play’s events.

Word Play

  • Pun: The play features a number of puns, particularly in the exchanges involving the Mechanicals. This style of word play contributes to the overall humour of the play.

Remember to explore specific examples of these language techniques when analysing the play, and consider how they contribute to the overall themes, storyline and impact of the play.