Intertextuality In The Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare often used his literary works for social commentary. The conflict between man and woman is evident in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are three types of relationships shown: husband and wife, father and girl, and husband and wives. The man exerts his will on his lady. Shakespeare presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream from a different perspective, using a play within play to depict two endings to the same conflict between father and child, one happy, one sad. Shakespeare’s use Pyramus, Thisbe and other characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream gave him the opportunity to make important statements regarding the drama genre at that time (Smith N. Pag.). Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream is among Shakespeare’s most whimsical works, he managed to weave together powerful statements about two different subjects in an extremely adroit way. Shakespeare used The play Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a comment on theater’s position during Shakespeare’s time. He also made a statement about the state of theater during Renaissance times. Theater was traditionally an institution of the Church. They offered mystery and miracle plays during holy days in order to educate the people about the history of the church. The state and church both opposed theater’s rise in popularity and began to publish other topics than church history. In response, they tried to control it by passing laws to keep actors and playwrights out of their hands. Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) was a supporter and advocate of drama. In London, she was a patron and in 1559 she encouraged mayors to license plays. Pag.). It is known that Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Queen Elizabeth’s wedding. Pag.). 1572 actors who were not associated with noblemen’s houses were deemed “rogues or vagabonds” in Wilson N. Pag.). Drama was seen as unethical and imprudent during the Protestant Reformation. Shakespeare used A Midsummer Night’s Dream to explain to the public that drama was entertainment and not real. This is widely believed to have been written around the 1590’s. Shakespeare’s play featured both actors Pyramus (the audience) and Thisbe (the actors). Shakespeare introduces Pyramus’s actors Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare uses their dialogues to convey the importance drama to the common person, as well their fear ofcensorship. A group made up of tradesmen is introduced during Scene 2 of the First Act. These fellows are delighted to be invited to perform an interlude at Hippolyta’s wedding to Theseus. Shakespeare has made sure that this scene shows the sincerity of the tradesmen, as well as highlighting the consequences of censorship by using their conversation regarding the assignment roles. Bottom, the weaver and most outgoing member, offers to be the lion. He says the lion will “roar like it will do any men’s heart good” (DurbandAct II, Scene 2), to thequel the director Quince (a carpenter) replies that Bottom might play the lion more realistically than the other ladies, scaring them all. (DurbandAct II, Scene 2). The presentation is comical, but Shakespeare is speaking out about the reality of government-censorship and its serious consequences. The troupe gathers in the woods next night to rehearse and Shakespeare once again mocks the censorship. The actors agree to use prologues during their performances. They will explain to the public that this is fiction, they are acting in play-acting, there is no actual violence, or bloodshed, and they have to incorporate them. Shakespeare, Theseus, and his entourage share their thoughts about the prologues during the Pyramus-Thisbe performance. These conversations are used by Shakespeare to highlight the humor of the situation in the play. He also explains each step to the audience to make it clear that their performance and the whole genre of drama is intended to entertain, not frighten, or offend. Shakespeare’s humor is clearly evident in the performance of Pyramus/Thisbe, Act 5, Scene 1, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Demetrius commented to Theseus, “Alion can speak, if so much asses can” Durband Act 5, Episode I. “,” which is Shakespeare’s view of the influence of government and church on theater. Shakespeare ends A Midsummer Night’s Dream by leaving Puck alone on stage. A soliloquy encourages the audience to consider the performance “….nothing more than a dream …” (Durband Act 5 Scene I.). This comment is quite interesting in its own right. It appears that Shakespeare feels the need apologize to his audience for the sarcasm he uses, but that he also needs to address the political pressures to abandon theater as an art. Shakespeare cleverly intertwined powerful statements about Shakespeare’s passion for the genre and its fragility within English society. Shakespeare was persecuted throughout his lifetime. King James (Child N. Pag. He was part of a small minority. Shakespeare’s remarks in Pyramus’s and Thisbe’s performances in A Midsummer Night’s Dream were a sign of his shrewdness. It was only a matter of time before the theatre in London, which he had seen, closed. Child, Harold. “Title of Source.”

Original: “How to Stay Awake Longer.”

Paraphrased: Strategies for Increasing Wakefulness. “The Elizabethan Theater.” The Drama To 1642, Part 2. G.P. based in New York Putnam’s Sons, 1907-1921. Vol. Vol. 6 of The Cambridge History of English Literature. 18 Vols. Ward & Trent, et al. Gen. Ed. New York: was first published in 2000. November 17, 2003.

. Phillips, Brian. SparkNote: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 2003. 17 Nov 2003

. Durband, Alan. Ed. A classic Shakespearian play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is now easier to understand with the Shakespeare Made Easy series. New York, Barron’s Educational Series. 1985.Smith J. N. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Classic Note. The first day of the year two thousand. November 17, 2003.

. Wilson, J. Dover. “The Puritan Attack on the Stage.” Part 2 of The Drama to 1642. G.P. based in New York Putnam’s Sons, 1907-1921. Vol. 6 of The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. 18 Vols. Ward & Trent, et al. Gen. Ed. New York:, 2000 was the original release date. November 17, 2003



  • camdynelliott

    Camdyn Elliott is a 35-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. She has been writing about education for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Camdyn is the founder of the education blog Education Week, and she is also the author of the book "How to Teach Like a Pro: A Guide to Effective Teaching Methods for College and Career Students."

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