A Midsummer Night's Dream: sub-text

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: sub-text

Sub-Text in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Understanding Sub-Text

  • Understanding sub-text: Sub-text refers to the hidden or underlying meaning that is not explicitly stated in the text. It is delivered through undertones, implications, and symbolism.

  • Understanding the sub-text will enrich your interpretation of the play and help you build well-rounded and nuanced responses.

Themes Conveyed through Sub-text

  • Concealed desires: Almost all characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” harbour concealed desires, which forms a significant part of the sub-text. For example, the forbidden love between Lysander and Hermia, which they persist in despite Hermia’s father’s clear disapproval.

  • Power dynamics: The sub-text often reflects social hierarchies and power dynamics. King Oberon’s power over his wife, Titania, and the impudent Puck is one such example.

  • Magical influence: The sub-text also explores the theme of magical influence disrupting natural order. Puck’s use of love potion alters Lysander and Demetrius’s affections, leading to chaos and confusion.

  • Reality vs. Fantasy: The dream sequences add a layer of sub-text questioning what’s real and what’s fantasised. For instance, the confusion when characters wake up from enchanted sleep contributes to this theme.

  • Gender and love: The sub-text also addresses gender roles and expectations in society during Shakespeare’s time. Helena’s desperate pursuit of Demetrius, despite his rejection, conveys Shakespeare’s commentary on woman’s role in love and marriage.

  • Comedy and Tragedy: The tragicomedy aspect of the play is a significant sub-text. While the tone of the play is generally light-hearted, there are profound moments of sadness and despair, such as Hermia’s threat of death or being a nun.

Sub-text and the Nature of Drama

  • Theatre within theatre: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” features a ‘play within a play’ as the Mechanicals perform “Pyramus and Thisbe.” The sub-text here includes a comment on the nature of theatre and drama itself.

Importance of Sub-text

  • Remember that sub-text often conveys the deeper themes of a play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is no exception. Questions about authority, love, reality, and theatricality are consistently brought up, often indirectly, via sub-text.