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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a highly entertaining play, even today in 2005.

What did Shakespeare’s audience find entertaining in A Midsummer Night’s Dream so that it became one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays?

 

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a romantic, humorous and magical play.  Written by William Shakespeare, the play is full of the trials of love, wicked pranks and magic potions to weave spells. Much enjoyed by the Elizabethans and still thoroughly enjoyed today, it is still one of the Bard’s most popular plays.

 

One of the main themes was love. With the four main characters constantly falling in and out of love, the play was highly entertaining. Since love is  a universal emotion, the use of love gave the Elizabethan audience an experience it could relate to. As Lysander said to Hermia when their own love plans were not prevailing,

 

“ The true course of love never did run smooth”.

 

This now modern saying reflects what the whole play portrays. With various love conflicts, the Elizabethan audience would have found the complex love plot captivating. The use of love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is entertaining, captivating and absorbing.

 

The audience were not only entertained by the concept of the foolishness of love but also by humor. Wrapped in humorous pranks, cheeky mistakes and clever puns, the audience would have found the play hilarious. Dramatic ironies, when the audience knows more than the character, were extensively used in the play. It is well illustrated when the cheeky fairy, Puck, gave Bottom the head of an ass. Neither Bottom nor Titania, Queen of the Fairies, knew this. Titania said to Bottom,

 

“Thou art wise as thou art beautiful”

 

The audience would have found this extremely funny as they would have seen Titania calling the ugly and pompous Bottom, and ass. Humor provided an essential part of the entertainment for the Elizabethan audience.

 

Magic was an absorbing section of the play. With fairies and magic potions A Midsummer Night’s Dream would have been very entertaining. People went to the plays to escape reality and this is exactly what the magic of the play allowed them to do. Because the Elizabethans very interested in magic, as it was new and different and therefore let them use their imaginations. Magic was able to change people’s points of view at the sprinkling of a potion. The Elizabethans would have found this most entertaining as mistakes could be rectified and the fairies had the ability to play with people’s minds as they wished. After Puck put some of the magic potion on Lysander, Lysander said,

 

“The tedious minutes with I have spent

not Hermia but Helena I love”

 

This would have been most intriguing as only a moment before Lysander was declaring his love for Hermia. Magic was a thoroughly entertaining part of the play as it allowed the audience to imagine and fantasize about what they could do with magic.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream had something for everyone. From magical pranks to humourous dramatic irony. Full of love and magic it is no wonder that the Elizabethans could not resist the play and it is no wonder that it became one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.  


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