‘Identify and evaluate the presence and execution of Shakespearean comedy tropes in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’
He is ostensibly the greatest play write ever, with the production of over 37 plays and productions that are constantly staged even now in the 21st century. But one of his more prestigious plays ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’, is “the best written play every produced” as quoted by Chris Hastings of The Telegraph. One of his most illustrious and famed plays which falls within the comedy genre of Shakespeare’s plays has more to it than meets the eye, for it beholds the undeniable recipe of a Shakespearean comedy. Historically all Shakespearean comedies behold the art of a happy ending however it may find its way there, for “true love never did run smooth” as quoted by Lysander from within the play itself. The contents of the essay will incorporate all of the traits that all add up to your stereotypical comedy produced by Shakespeare; this includes a clever servant, a struggle of young lovers, separation and re-unification, disputes between characters, and finally multiple intertwining plots.
One of the main character tropes used in a standard Shakespearean comedy is the clever servant. For the duration of the play we see that Shakespeare creates a realm centered between a world grounded in reality and one existing in the fantasy world. Within this fantasy world, the audience is introduced to a class of characters dubbed ‘The Fairies’ which belong within the ‘Atlantis’ like fairytale that is ‘The Woods’, but we also observe them interact with people from Athens, the realistic setting in which the play begins. This also ties in with the trait of intertwining plots which will be spoken about subsequently. Within the fairy kingdom, we find the mischievous fairy, Puck. Puck’s occupation is that of comical intent; he is the jester of Oberon, the king of the fairies.
It appears that Puck is fuelled by pranks and causing chaos, with this he provides many of the complications that propel the play. We first see the true colours of Puck during Act 2 Scene 1 when he confronts a fellow fairy and is told that he is indeed “that shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin Goodfellow.” From this the audience can conclude he is of no good at all. The words the fairy uses, especially ‘shrewd’ and ‘knavish’ tell us he is an agitator and rascal; he has created a fearful reputation within the fantasy world up to now. But during this short calamity the audience also discovers Puck’s faithful servant qualities, he “tells jokes to Oberon” and also “makes him laugh.” He may be a dog-like character to Oberon, hell bent on doing as he is told and forever daring not to question his authority.
We see the effects of Puck’s knavish behavior in Act 3, Scene 1 when Puck stumbles across the Mechanicals rehearsing their play for Theseus and Hippolyta. During this scene, we see Puck focus his ill will upon Bottom – one of the more feeble- minded and moronic characters – and ends up enchanting Bottom’s head into an ass’s head, “Enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass’s head.” As forecast, we see the outcome of Robin’s trick on the panicked craftsmen around and try to frighten them in his many available life forms, “I’ll run you around in circles, through bogs and bushes and woods and thorns”. Furthermore during this little playtime session we also see that he can transform into any beast or living organism at the clap of his hands, “I’ll take the shape of a horse, sometimes I’ll take the shape of a hound or a pig”. As well as the trouble he has caused already we see him come back to his normal self during the majority of Act 3 Scene 2.
As we learnt previously during the play – Puck the troublesome fairy – inserted some of the mysterious and powerful love potion into the eyes of Lysander, mistaking him for Demetrius, the original target. This then allows the audience to straightforwardly predict that chaos will occur in the near future. Nevertheless we see Puck admit his wrongdoing to his master Oberon and promise to fix it as best he can, but notwithstanding we again see Puck show his fondness of creating chaos and trouble he famously declares to Oberon “Lord what fools these mortals be!” This quote from Puck simply reinstates the hypothesis that his yearning for problem producing is very strong indeed, furthermore we see him separate the fairies from the humans by saying “These mortals” the specific use of the word “These” produces an idea that he really wants to detach himself from them, like they are a waste of space and time ultimately.
Finally, during the end of the play – specifically during Act 5 Scene 1 – we see Puck go back to a swell and cordial character, he is seen to attend Theseus’s and Hippolyta’s wedding and subsequently follows his job of being a ‘house spirit’ and sweeps the house of the dwellers to make sure nothing distracts them or bothers them, “I’ve been sent to clean house a bit before the fairies come”