A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • Patrick Swinden


A Midsummer Night’s Dream, like Love’s Labour’s Lost, may have been an entertainment for the nobility; more precisely, an entertainment to celebrate a wedding. The evidence from outside the play to support this view is sparse and inconclusive, but I should have thought the internal evidence was clear. The theme of the play is marriage. Three couples are married at the end of it, and one more, Oberon and Titania, have represented another version of the married state throughout. Theseus and Hippolyta are ideal lovers awaiting their wedding with the proper degree of impatience and ceremony; and it has been suggested that since they are given so small a part in the story — nothing happens to them — they may represent a flattering stage substitute for the betrothed in honour of whose marriage the play was first performed. There are plenty of parts for small boys who would have lived in the household where the celebrations were being held. What could be more suitable for children to speak than the monosyllables of Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed at m, i? And, of course, there is a repeated insistence on festive revels by members of all three groups on-stage: the nobles, the fairies, and the mechanicals. Altogether, the evidence from inside the play points to the fact that it was originally a wedding entertainment.


Married State Outer Frame Proper Degree Early Play Wedding Night 
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Copyright information

© Patrick Swinden 1973

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  • Patrick Swinden

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