A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  A Midsummer Night’s Dream

author  William Shakespeare

type of work  Play

genres  Comedy; fantasy; romance; farce

language  English

time and place written  London, 1594 or 1595

date of first publication  1600

publisher  Thomas Fisher

narrator  None

climax  In the strictest sense, there is no real climax, as the conflicts of the play are all resolved swiftly by magical means in Act IV; the moment of greatest tension is probably the quarrel between the lovers in Act III, scene ii.

protagonist  Because there are three main groups of characters, there is no single protagonist in the play; however, Puck is generally considered the most important character.

antagonist  None; the play’s tensions are mostly the result of circumstances, accidents, and mistakes.

settings (time) Combines elements of Ancient Greece with elements of Renaissance England

settings (place) Athens and the forest outside its walls

point of view  Varies from scene to scene

falling action  Act V, scene i, which centers on the craftsmen’s play

tense  Present

foreshadowing  Comments made in Act I, scene i about the difficulties that lovers face

tones  Romantic; comedic; fantastic; satirical; dreamlike; joyful; farcical

symbols  Theseus and Hippolyta represent order, stability, and wakefulness; Theseus’s hounds represent the coming of morning; Oberon’s love potion represents the power and instability of love.

themes  The difficulties of love; magic; the nature of dreams; the relationships between fantasy and reality and between environment and experience

motifs  Love out of balance; contrast (juxtaposed opposites, such as beautiful and ugly, short and tall, clumsy and graceful, ethereal and earthy)