What makes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” a comedy?

July 10, 2018 General Studies

A “fool character”
During play rehearsal, Bottom’s head is transformed by Puck into that of a donkey, making him the play’s biggest joke. Clueless that he’s been transformed, Puck declares that his friends have run away from him in fear because they’re trying to “make an ass” out of him -(3.1.16) which is a use of dramatic irony.

Light, humorous tone
The play features fairy magic, silly pranks, and the disastrous performance of a play-within-the-play by a bunch of wannabe actors.

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Clever dialogue and witty banter Shakespeare reserves some of the best dialogue for his warring lovers, especially Oberon and Titania, and even the “rude mechanicals” show clever banter.

Deception and disguise
Hermia and Lysander try to sneak away from Athens to run away together, behind Egeus’s back. Also, Titania and the young lovers have no idea they’ve been drugged by Oberon and his magic love juice.

Mistaken identity
In most of Shakespeare’s other comedies, someone usually runs around in a disguise to mask his or her identity. This isn’t necessarily the case in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, unless we count the fact that the love juice causes Titania to fall head over heels in love with an “ass.” In other words, Titania mistakes Bottom for a creature who is worthy of her love and affection. The same can be said of the other lovers who are dosed with Oberon’s magic love potion.

Multiple plots with twists and turns
There are several lines of action in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the first plot involves Theseus and Hippolyta’s upcoming wedding. The second plot line involves the young Athenian lovers who run around the wood in confusion. The third plot follows Oberon’s tiff with his wife, Titania. As a fourth plot line, Shakespeare works in a bunch of craftsmens (the Mechanicals), who plan to perform a play at Theseus’s big fancy wedding.

Love overcomes obstacles
The only reason Theseus is even engaged to Hippolyta is because he conquered her people and basically won her in battle. Just a few moments after we hear about Theseus and Hippolyta, we learn that Hermia and Lysander must also overcome a major obstacle if they want to be together because Hermia’s dad wants her to marry someone else. There are also a bunch of mischievous fairies running around the wood sloshing magic love juice into the eyes of hapless humans, causing them to fall in and out of love with the first creature that comes into view. In the end, though, love wins out and Theseus and each of the four young lovers hook up with a steady partner.

No matter what else happens, Shakespeare’s comedies always end with one or more marriages – or the promise of marriage. This is Shakespeare’s way of restoring social order to the world of his plays. At the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus finally gets to marry Hippolyta and spend the night with her, and as for the four humans who have been chasing each other around the forest and falling in and out of love, they finally settle down and hook up with a steady partner: Hermia weds Lysander and Demetrius gets hitched to Helena.


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