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?
The story of Pyramus and Thisbe offers a very subtle return to a couple of the main elements of
However, it is important to recognize as well that the inherent structure of a play-within-a-play allows Shakespeare to show off his talent by inserting a gem of pure comedy. The conflicts have been resolved and a happy ending procured for all; the performance, thus, has no impact on the plot. Rather, the craftsmen’s hilarious bungling of the heavy tragedy allows the audience, and the melodramatic Athenian lovers, to laugh and take delight in the spectacle of the play.
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?
That Shakespeare takes his characters from vastly different sources (e.g., the bumbling, rough craftsmen and the delicate, fanciful fairies) contributes to the imaginative scope and pervasive absurdity of
How is A Midsummer Night’s Dream structured? Is there anything unusual in its treatment of the five-act dramatic form?