This play is about Egeus who brings his daughter Hermia to court for she has declined a marriage proposal from Demetrius. According to Athenian law, Hermia was subjected to marry the man of her father’s choice or choose between being killed and becoming a nun. Hermia is not willing to marry Demetrius for she is in love with someone else, Lysander. In the story, it is indicated that Demetrius has an affair with Helena who happens to be Hermia’s friend. To accomplish their mission, Hermia and Lysander decide to move to another town, which is past Athenian law. Before relocating to a different town, Hermia informs Helena about it, who in turn tells Demetrius so that she can ingratiate herself to him. Once the two run away to the woods, Demetrius and Helena follow them. It is in the woods that the whole play takes place with everything turning out to be as expected by Egeus, Hermia’s father. Puck uses flower juices to make Hermia fall for Demetrius and in turn, Helena falls in love with Lysander. Later in the story, the love portion is again used by Puck to make Demetrius fall for Helena and Lysander falls in love with Hermia (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). Despite the fact that there is modest character development in the play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare and there is no actual protagonist, reviewers point to Puck as the most imperative character in the play.
The roguish quick-witted fairy sets the play’s occurrences in action with Puck’s magic by means of both deliberate mischief and ill-fated mistakes on human characters. For instance, Puck transforms Bottom’s head to resemble the head of a donkey. It is also in the play that he soiled love portion on Lysander’s eyelids instead of Demetrius’s by mistake. The most important part is Puck’s unpredictable spirit, magical imaginations, fun-loving humor, and lovely reminiscent language that impart the impression of the play to the audience. Wild contrasts such as the implied comparison between the jagged, earthy crafts-men and the fragile, attractive fairies dictate the play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The other characters in the play think of Puck as an elegant but not saccharine as the other fairies such as Oberon. Puck is given a definite crudeness that leads him to make over Bottom’s head into that of an ass. This indicates that he is good-hearted but he is capable of nasty tricks. Whereas most of the fairies are beautiful and insubstantial, Puck is depicted as a character with weird looks. In the play, Puck is referred by other characters in the play as “hobglobin” (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). This means that he is not as glamorous as other fairies in the play.
The director of the play uses Puck in plot development. Puck plays a major role in giving a resolution to the plot. The theme of love is difficulty in the play as surveyed through the motif of contrast. This refers to the romantic state of affairs in which inconsistency or inequalities impede the synchronization of established relationships in the play. The imbalance is depicted by the irregular love that exists among the four young Athenians; Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius. It is illustrated in the play that Hermia loves Lysander, Lysander loves Hermia, Helena loves Demetrius, and Demetrius loves Hermia but not Helena who is in love with him. In the play, there is imbalance where two men are in love with the same woman. The play has a probability for a traditional ending, and the plot is in many ways based on a mission for internal balance. This implies that when the lover’s tangle is resolved into proportioned pairings; the conventional happy conclusion will be acquired. Similarly, in the relationship between Titania and Oberon, an imbalance occurs where Oberon’s admiration for Titania’s Indian boy overshadows the love he has for her. In the play, Titania’s love for Bottom corresponds to an imbalance of appearance and nature (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). This is because Titania is beautiful whereas Bottom is inept and ugly.
Puck was used to bring out the theme of love as difficulty in the play. Love is impossible in the play because the characters cannot be with the persons they love simply because there are people against it or there is no mutual love between the lovers. This is evident in the play where Hermia cannot be with Lysander because her father is against it. In addition, Helena cannot be with the person she loves for he is in love with her friend, Hermia. It is through Puck that Shakespeare gives the play the traditional happy conclusion and imbalance is ultimately resolved in the play. This is because with love portion, he makes sure that there is equality. Initially, love portion is applied on Lysander’s eyelids where he falls for Helena with Demetrius falling for Hermia. Later, after correcting his mistake, equality reigns with Demetrius loving Helena and Lysander falling for Hermia (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000).
In the play, Puck was also used by the director in bringing out the theme of magic. The fairies’ magic that causes most peculiar and comical situations in the play is the other element that is essential to the incredible ambiance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Shakespeare uses magic both to signify the supernatural power of love as symbolized by the love portion, and to generate a strange world in the play. Despite the fact that the misuse of magic results into confusion when Puck erroneously applies love portion on Lysander, magic eventually determines the play’s apprehension by restoring the love balance among the lovers (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). The theme of magic helps the director in theme development where Puck applies love portion to Demetrius and Lysander making them fall for Helena and Hermia respectively.
As suggested by the heading of the play, dreams are an imperative theme in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Dreams are connected to the strange, magical occurrences in the forest. Hippolyta’s opening words in the play substantiates the pervasiveness of dreams. In the play, Hippolyta says that, “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night, Four nights will quickly dream away the time”. The theme of dreaming reappears pre-dominantly when characters try to explain strange occurrences in which they are involved. For instance, an incidence in the play where Bottom’s head is transformed to that of a donkey by Puck, he says that, “I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about t’expound this dream” (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). Shakespeare is also fascinated by the definite workings of dreams, in how proceedings occur without clarification, time loses its actual sense of flow, and the impossible transpires as a matter of course. Towards the end of the play, Puck pulls out the idea of dreams to the audience by telling them that in case they have been offended by the play, they should consider it as nothing but a dream. The sense of misapprehension is vital to the impression of the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It gives the play a fantastical familiarity rather than a profound drama.
Motifs are the inveterate structures, contrasts, and literary strategies that can assist directors in to develop and inform the major themes of a play. The thought of contrast is the fundamental edifying block of the play. The entire play is created around groups of opposites and doubles. For instance, Hermia is short whereas Helena is tall. Puck plays pranks whereas Bottom is the victim of pranks, Titania is beautiful and Bottom is ugly. The three main groups of characters are premeditated to contrast effectively with one another. The fairies are elegant and magical while the artisans are inept and simple. The crafts men are cheerful while the lovers are serious people. Contrast acts as the defining image characteristic of the play. The plays ineffaceable image is that of the beautiful subtle Titania interlacing flowers into the hair of ass-headed Bottom (Shakespeare & McDonald, 2000). It is not possible to picture the compatibility of the two figures. The concurrence of extra-ordinary differences is the most important characteristic of play’s fantastic ambiance.
The motif of the play is illustrated by Shakespeare through Puck. Puck was the one who deliberately transformed Bottom’s head to resemble that of a donkey. Through his magic, he applies love portion on Titania who falls in love with Bottom despite his physical appearance. This brings out the motif of contrast between the two individuals. Motif is an element that has been used by Shakespeare in the play’s plot development. In addition, symbols are also incorporated in the play.
A symbol can be defined as objects, characters, figures and colors used to represent conceptual thoughts. In the play, Puck uses love portion when performing his magic. The love portion that he uses is made from flower juice that was smacked with one of the Cupids misfired arrows (Shakespeare &McDonald, 2000). The situation of the four Athenian lovers was worsened when Puck mishandled the love portion. The use of the love portion creates devastation in the play and at the same time, it provides a solution to the problem of love among the youths.
In conclusion, the director used the character, Puck, in the development of the play’s plot. Puck contributed a lot in providing a resolution to the plot of the play towards the end. In the play, there is imbalance where two men are in love with the same woman. This is where both Demetrius and Lysander love Hermia. This problem is solved by Puck where he used his love portion appropriately by smearing love portion on Demetrius’s eyelids. Demetrius falls in love with Helena, thus coming up with a solution to the discrepancy of love as illustrated in the play. This is where instead of letting Demetrius fall in love with Hermia after his first mistake; he goes ahead to find a way in which he could make Demetrius love Helena, and make Hermia love Lysander.
Shakespeare, William & McDonald, Russ. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. New York, NY: Penguin Classics, 2000. Print.
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