William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
This play of Shakespeare is well balanced and rich in variety of narrative style and dramatic procedure. This play is about the love quadrangle of four couples, namely: Hippolyta-Theseus, Hermia-Lysander, Helena-Demetrius and Titania-Oberon. Different couples represent different types of love: Hippolyta and Theseus stand for mature love, the love between Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius represent the youthful love, the love affair of Oberon and Titania refers to the renewed love.
The characterization is wonderful, the use of the language is praiseworthy and the interconnectedness of the plot is complex. Because of such unique and new features, this play provides many critics with the materials to make many theories. For the all-time readers, this comedy remains as a great source of aesthetic pleasure. The play wholly depends on the role of magic, though magic is usually unconvincing and external of the reality, it somehow makes the life enjoyable. Here, Shakespeare takes us to the world of fairies through the use of magic. Two contrary forces like reason versus imagination and rationality versus fantasy are mainly focused in this play. What happens when human judgment acts upon these forces and what happens when these things act upon human judgment? What happens when these two elements play a mutually predominant role?
The title itself is suggestive of dream. Summer stands for irrationality and restlessness or desires. The irrationality manifests itself when the conscious mind does not work. Nobody dreams in the play, but anything can happen in such dream which is similar to imagination. Magic creates an induced state of mind, which is full of confusion, conflict and chaos. Magic portion is the element that facilitates transformation. The inconsistency becomes the ordering principle which creates confusion and chaos.
The play is in contrast to the Aristotelian concept of single plot. How different the plot integrate is a problem in this play. There are mainly four stories of four couples: Hippolyta-Theseus, Hermia-Lysander, Helena-Demetrius and Titania-Oberon. All the issues of these stories are mainly concerned with love. There are issues of domination and subordination, issue of heart and mind, issue of patriarchal society. Ultimately, all the problems are solved by the magic.