How does Shakespeare use confusion as a theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Topics: NatureNight

Confusion is often used by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so how does Shakespeare use confusion as a theme in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Shakespeare uses confusion a lot in this play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to make it more interesting and enjoyable and it adds a few twists to the story line which wouldn’t be expected by the audience, for example, when Nick Bottom’s head gets turned into an ass’ head, and all the mechanicals are scared and confused about the ass head in place of Nick Bottom’s head, and they all run away, and Nick Bottom is confused why they are all running away from him as he does not notice the ass head.

I think that Shakespeare uses a lot of confusion in a Midsummer Night’s Dream as it relates to the real world, like when Queen Elizabeth I was the reigning Queen of England (1533-1603), as she did not marry any person, and she did not want to marry anyone whom she did not truly love.

She also did not have any heirs to the throne so Elizabethan England was in mass confusion as they did not know who will be on the throne next. Near the beginning of the play, Hermia’s father Egeus, wants her to marry Demetrius, but she does not love Demetrius and she infact loves Lysander.

Egeus said to Theseus, the Duke of Athens “… Stand forth, Demetrius! – My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her.

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Stand forth, Lysander! – And, my gracious Duke, This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child. ” I : i 24-27, so Egeus wants Demetrius to marry Hermia, and not Lysander, as he thinks that he is bewitched Hermia. Hermia pleads to be allowed to marry Lysander instead of Demetrius for her husband. But Theseus warns Hermia that if she does not chose to marry Demetrius before his marriage with Hippolyta, she will be executed or she will be sent to a convent.

As Theseus takes Demetrius and Egeus away to talk to them, Lysander and Hermia are left alone, and they both agree to run away from home as it says in this quote, “… From Athens is her house remote seven leagues; And she repects me as her only son. There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee; And to that place the sharp Athenian law cannot persue us. If thou lov’st me, then steal forth thy father’s house tomorrow night, and in the wood, a league witout the town… ” I : i 159-165 and the reply to the quote, “…

Tommorrow truly will I meet with thee. ” I : i 178, So that means that Lysander and Hermia have planned to meet in the woods the very next day, so that they can go to Lysander’s widow aunt’s house to marry each other. This make the Elizabethan audience confused because women during that period of time obeyed what their father said as women had no control of their life’s, and because Hermia said she didn’t want Demetrius as a husband, this confuses everyone as this was unheard of, a women standing up for herself, and taking control.

The lovers are also confused because of the havoc the love flower has created, due to Oberon making a mistake, as he said to Puck ” A sweet Athenian lady is in love with a distainful youth; anoint his eyes, But do it with the next thing he espies May be the lady. Thou shalt know the man By the Athenian garment she hath on. ” But the mistake Oberon made is not obvious, but he did not tell Puck the names of the two lovers he wants together, so Puck squeezes the love flower into the wrong person’s eyes, who is Lysander, and when Lysander wakes up he then see’ Helena.

So Hermia still loves Lysander, Lysander now loves Helena and Demetrius loves Hermia so its like a love circle, but then Oberon tries to correct his mistake by putting some love flower juice into Demetrius’ eyes so he loves Helena instead of Hermia. Later on the play, as well as dispelling Titania from the love flower, he also tells Puck to dispel Lysander so he can return to Hermia. The other two lovers Demetrius and Helena were former lovers, as Lysander tries to state, “…

Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head, Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena, and won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes… ” I : i 106-108. But Helena still loves Demetrius, but Demetrius does not love her anymore, so Helena tries her hardest to win Demetrius’ love back. Helena is Hermia’s best friend, and vice versa, and Lysander and Demetrius seem to be worst of enemies, due to the argument about who will marry Hermia.

Dramatic confusion works to make us laugh because of the franticness of the movements of the characters in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, like when all the mechanicals run away from Nick Bottom because they are all confused about his ass head. I think that it does not make us question the fairness of the confusion because when Demetrius marries Helena at the end, the audience just accept it as it being fair, as its a happy ending, and as long as everyone is happy the audience is happy.

But Demetrius does not really love Helena truly, as he is under the influence of the love flower, and it isn’t his personal choice to marry Helena under his own will. There is a group of people who are named the mechanicals, who are called Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Starveling, and Snout. They all plan to act out a play in front of the Theseus the Duke of Athens’ wedding. Quince tells all the mechanicals what parts they are acting. Bottom is Pyramus, Flute is Thisbe, Snug is the lion, Snout is Pyramus’ father, Starveling is Thisbe’s mother, and Quince is Thisbe’s father.

Nick Bottom wants to play most of the parts, like the lion, as he says he can play a great lion. The mechanicals all plan to meet in the woods to practice the play before the big day, the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. When they all arrive in the woods to prepare the play, Puck or Robin Goodfellow as he is also know as, see’ the mechanicals acting out the play, and Puck thought it would be rather comical if he turned Bottom’s head into an ass’ head.

Quince, Starveling, Snout, Snug, and Flute are all scared and confused as they all spot Bottom’s new head, and due to the confusion they all run away in a panic. After that Bottom himself is left confused about why they had run away, and due to Bottom speaking he woke up Titania, who is the Queen of the fairies, and is under the influence of the love flower, and who ever is under the influence of the love flower will instantly fall in love with who ever they see first, and in this case it is Nick Bottom.

When Oberon, The King of the fairies, spots Titania with Bottom and he feels bad about using the love flower on Titania so he dispells her, and she no longer loves Nick Bottom. Oberon explains all about Nick Bottom to her. Oberon also commands Puck to change Bottom’s head back to normal and so he does. Bottom then wakes up thinking that it was all a dream as he says “… I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of a man to say what dream it was.

Man is but an ass if he go about to expound his dream. methought I was – and methought I had – but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. ” IV : i 197-200. He also thinks that the mechanicals are playing a trick on him as they are nowhere to bo seen, but then he thinks that they abandoned him and left him to sleep in the woods as he says in this quote ” When my cues comes, call me, and I will answer. My next is ‘Most fair Pyramus’.

Heigh ho! Peter Quince? Flute the bellows mender? Snout the tinker? Starveling? Gods my life! Stolen hence and left me asleep? ” I don’t think that it was fair to use Bottom in this way, even though it does add comical value to the play, because Nick is really confused about what is happening and its not his fault, as this is a joke by Puck, and he really thinks that Titania loves him due to Oberon being selfish, but he then realises his mistake.

There is confusion in the relationship between Oberon and Titania because they argued about the Indian boy, which Titania is looking after, as the Indian boy’s mother died a child birth, and Oberon wants this boy as it seems to him as the most important and valuable possession around as during Elizabethan England, India was only just discovered, and one of the things that they brought back were slaves but they were rare. What Oberon thinks is that as long as you have that Indian boy you will be the most important person/fairy around.

Oberon wants that Indian boy so he drugs Titania with the love flower so that he can take the Indian boy as Titania does not want to part with the boy. This leads to nature being confused as floods and storms are happening because they are conflicting, and nature will not turn back to normal until they make friends again. Puck cause dramatic confusion as he makes Nick Bottom’s head turn into an ass head, which causes dramatic confusion as all the mechanicals run away from Bottom.

He also causes dramatic confusion as he anoints the wrong person as this leads to a chain reactiom, when Lysander longer loves Hermia and loves Helena, and Demetrius also loves Helena, and this results into an argument, and they almost start fighting. He causes all this confusion because he enjoys it, but the putting the love juice into the wrong person’s eyes was a mistake, but with Nick Bottom, that was just Puck wanting to see what the mechanical’s reactions would be, and he found that rather funny.

The natural father and daughter relationship is in confusion because Hermia is disobeying him about the marriage between her and Demetrius, and during Elizabethan England, women were not allowed to have a choice and their lives were directed by their father. This is confusing to the Elizabethan audience because women in Elizabethan England weren’t expected to stand up for themselves, as it was unheard of at that time, but now, to a modern day audience, no one really takes notice of this and just thinks it’s a father daughter argument.

During Elizabethan England, Queen Elizabeth was in control of the country she ruled from 1558-1603. The confusing thing to the Elizabethans is that Queen Elizabeth did not want to marry anyone whom she didn’t truly love. The problem is that there was no heir to the throne, so England was in confusion about what is going to happen next. Queen Elizabeth is similar to Hermia, as Hermia defied the unwritten rules of the time, and did what she wanted and not what her father wanted.

She is also similar to Harmia because she didn’t marry anyone who she didn’t love, like when Hermia was told to marry Demetrius, but she really loved Lysander, and Queen Elizabeth did not marry anyone who she did not love. I think that confusion is a strong theme in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as it is used a lot, and without the confusion theme the play would have not been very exciting and interesting, and instead it would have been very dull and lifeless.

I did enjoy the play, but there are some boring parts to the play like the beginning where there is no or very little comedy, but there is just the decision of who is going to marry whom. My favourite part is near the end where the mechanicals are chosen to act out their play in front of the Duke of Athens. This part is good because this is where the mechanicals are truly confused about what their lines are, and the way it is written is awful.

I think that Shakespeare added this to A Midsummer Night’s Dream because he wanted to show his audience that he writes better plays then most people, as the mechanical’s play was over the top and terrible, and there was too much alliteration as well. I think that the audiences in the Elizabethan period would have found this play either very scary, due to the fact that women can speak for themselves or that it was too far fetched that none of the events that happened in the play could happen in the real world.

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How does Shakespeare use confusion as a theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream. (2017, Jul 06). Retrieved from

How does Shakespeare use confusion as a theme in A Midsummer Night's Dream
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