A Midsummer Night Dream

My first reading of Shakespeare’s plays

The story of Puck and the world of fairy tales:

The sense of hastiness brought up by Puck underlines the existing association between fairies and evilness. “Damnèd spirits all” — the ghosts of suicides mentioned by Puck is an image representing the shame that fairies should have felt, just like those apparitions who commit suicide. A brilliant comparison for during the Renaissance those who choose to take their own lives must have been looked down upon and hence the need for evading Aurora the goddess of dawn, by “willfully themselves exile from light.” The contrasting images of “Aurora’s harbinger” — the morning star and “black-browned night” display the dogma that fairies only belong in darkness for they are believed to be the portent of unpleasant events. In larger context, it is the idea that freedom will be undermined and circumscribed once the morning coming up, for the wood and the fairies, whose freedom and playfulness are freely expressed, could only happen at night.

In reply to the speech delivered by Puck, Oberon states that they are “spirits of another sorts,” and with that Oberon manifests the idea that fairies, indeed, are not evil spirits. By bringing up the images of him reveling in the dawn with the “Morning’s love” and “like a forester, the groves may tread,” Oberon underlines the freedom and elation that should be associated with fairies. That is used to indicate the restrictions fell upon Athenians when unlike fairies, they are just common people that are living under strict rules handed upon them generation after generation. Which is the reason why at the end of his deliver, Oberon instructs Puck to “haste; make no delay,” as ultimately those lovers will have to return back to their normal life, under Athens’ rules, and freedom and love and happiness will not be achieved unless there is opportune intervention from the fairies.

This colloquy extracted from the play underscores the contradiction of the two worlds, the world of fairies in the woods, and Athens of strict rules and common people. The whole play focuses on the idea of following desires and true love, and that is not permitted in Athens. Thus, the wood and the fairies are metaphors for the happening of those things. As a result, the wood and the fairies are attached to the stigma of being evil, just like how Athens’ s society will perceive the idea of freedom in desire, love and marriage.

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