Many Titania are forced into a web

Many people have read the classic ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” watched it performed live, or even seen in on the big screen. Learn what literary critics think of this classic romantic comedy.

Critics Agree, It’s a Hit

When scholars read a work of literature and analyze it, they call the process literary analysis.

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Scholars then compile their thoughts into a paper called a critique that will be filled with literary criticism, or conjectures.You may be familiar with the popular website Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes is a critique website for movies. Literary criticism works the same way; it’s collected into scholarly journals to give readers a deeper understanding of a difficult text.William Shakespeare is one of the most renowned writers in history, but understanding his famous plays and poems is often difficult. Literary contemporaries tackle Shakespeare text to find the layered elements that are often missed due to the text’s difficult language.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is funny and charming on the surface but holds deeper meaning. Below are some popular critiques of ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from different commentators.

Good and the Bad

Good and bad; love and hate; and light and darkness are often different sides of the same coin.

These concepts are covered in many of Shakespeare’s plays, but they are presented in a uniquely comical light in ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Victims of Love

In the play, Demetrius, Lysander, and Titania are forced into a web of lovelorn affection due to Oberon’s magic and at the hands of a mischievous Puck. The play resolves with a comical, happy sense of amusement, but some critics view it as a slap in the face. Imagine being in love and then forced to love someone else? Ending the play with hearty laughs is definitely not the type of closure most people would require. One contemporary critic, Charles Isherwood from the New York Times, expresses his thoughts in a thorough critique.Isherwood points out the many cases that highlight men’s crass behavior towards women in the play.

He believes the abrasive treatment of women by men within the play sets a tone for forced love and antipathy for them. Isherwood discusses in Act I Scene where a wedding speech by Theseus in honor of his new wife Hippolyta that leaves a sour taste in the mouth:Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword,And won thy love, doing thee injuries;But I will wed thee in another key,With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.Not exactly a wedding toast for a ”blushing bride.” Isherwood states in his critique that, ”the strange note of violence between men and women that has been so quickly struck will recur again and again throughout the play.”Isherwood later goes on to say, ” In the realm of the fairies, too, love is inconstant and inspires brutality when it is thwarted.


Isherwood picks up on some subtle undertones of love-induced brutality that show readers a defunct relationship between men and women.

Is it Real?

Most people have been in love. People say that love makes us feel as if we are floating on clouds.

We often measure our happiness, especially when we are in love. In the eyes of early 20th century philosopher and scholar Gilbert Chesterton, Shakespeare created ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” centered around the ideology of happiness to teach readers about the state of the human soul.

Defining Happiness

The goal of the characters in ” A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is to be with their lovers. Helena wants to be with Demetrius, Hermia wants to be with Lysander, and King Oberon wants the unspoiled affection of Queen Titania.

This prompts the question: Is being happy such a bad thing? Definitely not!However, according to Gilbert Chesterton, Shakespeare uses simple emotions in the play to test the state of a man’s soul. In a scholarly paper, Chesterton states, ”Sorrow …

can go beyond itself; so, according to Shakespeare, can pleasure go beyond itself and become something dangerous and unknown.”Chesterton realizes that within the play, the pursuit of happiness can be a meditative process but can also cause dangerous problems. Being in love can be make you feel good, but it can also drive you crazy.

In the play, the illusion of love allows characters to self assess. However, there are a lot of problems that occur in the pursuit of love, such as Oberon using magic to humiliate Queen Titania because of his jealousy.

Lesson Summary

Shakespeare’s ” A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a play that explores the concepts of love and marriage between three different couples as they enter a supernatural forest. While the play ends its problems with big belly laughs and thoughtful closing remarks, many literary criticisms evaluate elements inside the play that are unseen to many readers.One contemporary, Charles Isherwood, states that the abrasive treatment of women by men within the play sets a tone for forced love and antipathy for women. A scholar from the early 1900s, Gilbert Chesterton, provides a philosophical critique of the play about the idea of happiness and its relationship with the state of a man’s soul.


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