A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Discuss the role of the play-within-a-play in Act V of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Does the Pyramus and Thisbe story have any relevance to the main story, or is it simply a comical interlude? What effect does the craftsmen’s production of their play have on the tone of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a whole?
2. How does the play’s broad frame of reference heighten its use of contrast as an atmospheric device? More generally, how does Shakespeare use contrasting tones and characters in the play?
3. How is A Midsummer Night’s Dream structured? Is there anything unusual in its treatment of the five-act dramatic form?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Though Bottom often steals the show in performance, Puck is usually considered the most important character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Comparing Puck to Bottom, why might Puck be considered the protagonist? In what way does Puck’s spirit dominate the mood of the play? In what ways does the comedy surrounding Puck differ from that surrounding Bottom?
2. Compare and contrast the Athenian lovers with the craftsmen. In what ways are the dispositions of the two groups different from each other? Are they the same in any way?
3. What role do Theseus and Hippolyta play in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? What is the significance of the fact that they are absent from the play’s main action?
4. It has been argued that the characters of the Athenian lovers are not particularly differentiated from one another—that Hermia is quite like Helena (even down to her name) and that Demetrius resembles Lysander. Do you think that this is the case, or do you think that the lovers emerge as individuals? If you believe that these characters are quite similar to one another, what do you think Shakespeare’s intent was in making them so?
by DanMitchell23, January 02, 2013
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