What Do the Mechanicals add To the Audience’s Understanding and Enjoyment of the Play? “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” Is a play written by William Shakespeare in 1600. It is a play full of love, magic and dreams. With fascinating characters which range from supernatural fairies to noble humans. But how do the mechanicals add understanding and enjoyment to the play? In the play there are two worlds. The first world is the court; the second is the mysterious world of fairies. The Mechanicals are used in the play to add to the audience’s understanding of the play by exploring the central theme of love and its transforming power.
Shakespeare shows through bottom that something ugly can turn beautiful through love. The mechanicals are also used to add to the audience’s enjoyment of the play by adding humour to the play. Shakespeare uses a comic effect of names especially Bottom, as later he turns into an “ass” which is a donkey. The mechanicals also are always mixing up their words through oxymoron, malapropisms and nonsense words. The Mechanicals are the audience’s way into the play as they appeal to all people: educated, uneducated, rich and poor in the Elizabethan time. The theatre was very different in the 1600’s compared to now.
During the Elizabethan time, theatres were usually outdoors and the stage was very bare. It had little scenery so the acting companies had to rely on the imaginations of their audiences. The setting had to be created through the words of the play. The words of the play had to establish what time of day it was. Also men had to play women parts as it was judged to be inappropriate for a woman to undertake such a role so men for that reason were hired to act in the female roles. Consequently, in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” Thisbe who is a woman would have to be played as a man, which would bring humour to the audience.
In the time of William Shakespeare there was a strong belief in the existence of the supernatural. The Elizabethan Period and the academic era of the Renaissance introduced English persecution of Elizabethan Witches and Witchcraft. Ironically, this period of great learning brought with it a renewed belief in the supernatural including a belief in the powers of witchcraft, witches and witch hunts. In “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” the supernatural is a recurring part in the play. The Mechanicals add understanding to the play by bringing the two worlds of the play together.
In “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” there are four main plots: The lovers, the fairies, the Mechanicals and the Duke and Duchess. The Mechanicals bring together the palace and the woods as they use both settings. They use the palace to perform their play and the woods to practise there. The mechanicals fit perfectly into the structure of the play. The higher class which are the nobles, the lower class, which are the mechanicals and the supernatural world, which are the fairies. The Mechanicals bring together the world of law, order and reason by being unsystematic. They do this by contrasting themselves to the nobles.
In these quotations they show the nobles law, order and reason. “My Gracious Lord”[Theseus] Shows the characters’ respect for Theseus, also shows that Theseus has power and embodies Athens and the law. Theseus also shows that Athens is a land of law and order. “Either to die the death or abjure forever the society of me”. This line shows the rigidity of the Athenian law. Because Hermia’s father does not approve of her love, she must listen to him to not marry him, or to face the consequences. On the other hand the Mechanicals are not as educated as the aristocratic characters.
In this quotation it shows a clear contrast between the nobles and the Mechanicals. “What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant” [Bottom] I. i. 17 This quotation shows the lack of education and shows typical characters for a male lead in the theatre. It shows the lack of education, as this play would have been read in schools, at that time if they were educated. The mechanicals also make the audience understand some of their characteristics ” I am to entreat you, request, you and desire you to con them by tomorrow night” [Quince] L. i. 78-80 This quotation tells the audience that the Mechanicals are a little bit unreliable.