A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Exploring the Existence of Love

“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of an imagination all compact" (Act 5, Scene 1, Lines 7-8). This quote by Theseus encompasses the notion of love as being an illusion, a product of the imagination. Love is equated with lunacy and poetry, both intangible qualities, which makes it necessary to question its existence. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, love is viewed in many different ways. Bottom proves to be quite accurate characterizing the four main lovers when he states, "O what fools these mortals be” (Act 3, Scene 2, Line 115). While the four main characters believe in romanticism, Theseus is a strong supporter of realism. This sets up a comparison between the dichotomy of reason and love; that love is without reason and if we use reason to rationalise love, then perhaps it does not exist or is tenuous at best.

In Act 1 Scene 1, Hermia declares her love for Lysander and swears upon “Cupid’s strongest bow, By his best arrow, with the golden head, By the simplicity of Venus’ doves, By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves, And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen When the false Troyan under sail was seen. (Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 169-174)” The oath is strong and invokes the power of mythological...

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